A group walks the Carmanah trail. From Left: Jim Jenkins

A group walks the Carmanah trail. From Left: Jim Jenkins

New ecotours provide holistic aspect to health and wellness

These tours are not just a chance to see the sights. “All of these things will have a wellness aspect to them.

Honeymoon Bay Lodge and Retreat is a not-for-profit health and wellness centre whose mandate is to “provide rest, renewal, and growth through the use of its facilities and resources.” Starting May 19, the centre will be including new ecotours in its list of resources and providing guests with unique, guided tours of the local area.

Chris Clarke has been a counsellor with the centre for the past four years and he feels that the launch of these new ecotoursim excursions only add to the already established services the centre has to offer. These tours are not just a chance to see the sights. “All of these things will have a wellness aspect to them. I think people today are more interested in an experience. So this is an experience that’s a healthy experience. Instead of sitting there watching a movie, or having experiences that may not necessarily add to your wellness, this is an experience that people will enjoy, but it will also enhance them on a health and wellness level.”

Clarke also hopes that these excursions, in some small way, motivate people to have more of an appreciation for nature. “I don’t think people would really be motivated to do anything about it until they’ve experienced it for themselves. And so we want to provide an experience for people, and not necessarily with the purpose of saving the world, but we want to provide an experience for people that will help them to gain an appreciation for this world that we live in.”

In many ways, Honeymoon Bay is seen as the end of the road by many tourists because it is so remote, but Clarke hopes to change that point of view. “So we’ve been thinking, how can we promote this area, how can we promote this location? And I think it’s to kind of transform the idea of ‘it’s the end of the road’, to ‘it’s the beginning of something’. That’s why we use the slogan ‘gateway to the rainforest’.”

Clarke also hopes to bring attention to the need for repairs and costs related to the upkeep of the trails and boardwalks in the parks, particularly in the Carmanah Valley. Through the tours, and hopefully their gain in popularity, Clarke hopes to resurrect interest in the area and facilitate donations towards groups who are already doing the best they can to maintain the trails. “Carmanah used to be a popular place to go, but it seems to have just kind of died off. But now you go out there and the boardwalk is all needing repair and it’s almost like it’s been forgotten,” he says.

Right now the lodge is only focussing its advertising locally in Cowichan Lake and on Vancouver Island, but Clarke says that with ecotourism being a growing industry they hope to attract the attention of tourists from around the world. However, the centre does not want to grow too quickly. “I think we’re going to strategically start local and then begin expanding. We want to see what kind of interest there is. As we begin to refine the trips and as we get the manpower and equipment and everything in place, then we can begin expanding.”

Honeymoon Bay Lodge and Retreat will be offering tours, with guide Jim Jenkins, to Botanical Beach in Port Renfrew, Avatar Grove, Big Trees, Carmanah Valley and the Cheewhat Cedar. The cost is $195 per person, which includes transportation, bagged lunch, the full-day guided tour, and a hot tub soak and dinner at the end of the day. Tours last from 8 a.m.–8 p.m. and guests are reminded to bring proper footwear and to be aware that west coast weather is not always predictable.

For more information, visit the retreat website at honeymoonbayretreat.com, or phone 250-749-4252.