Relaxing in an AlumiTubs after a day exploring BC's coastal wilderness is hard to beat, but seeing humpback whales swim past you while you soak is another story altogether.
Breanne and Rick, the owners and operators behind Spirit of the West Adventures, a wilderness kayaking company, are no strangers to this once-in-a-lifetime experience. They reached out to outfit both their remote basecamps with an AlumiTubs, offering what we think is the perfect addition to their wilderness paddling experiences.
We asked Breanne and the team about the history behind their kayaking business and what modifications they made to their AlumiTubs to accommodate their guest experience.
Tell us a little about yourselves, and your business, Spirit of the West Adventures.
Spirit of the West Adventures aims to connect people to the incredible places we visit by kayak and inspire our guests to want to protect and preserve them, all while having an awesome vacation.
Spirit of the West has been running sea kayaking trips for more than 25 years along the coast of BC. We bet you've seen some pretty incredible things during that time. Can you tell us about some of your most memorable trips or sights?
There is no shortage of beautiful places or moments we could share with you. The coast and its creatures never fail to impress. One of my personal highlights was the very first time we filled our hot tub, I had just gotten in when a humpback passed by and gave a perfect tail fluke—watching whales from a hot tub was a new high for me! I also have watched whales pass by in the moonlight and bioluminescence from the hot tub, which of course is also pretty special!
Can you tell us a little about your base camps at Johnstone Strait and in Blackfish Sound? What kind of experience did you want to create for guests?
When we created these basecamps, they were designed to help people of all ages and experience levels feel comfortable in the wilderness. We wanted camping to be accessible to everyone, even those who prefer creature comforts and might not be as inclined to go camping otherwise. The hot tubs really are incredible to come home too after a day of fresh air and exercise in the kayaks.
Why choose an AlumiTubs wood-fired hot tub for your basecamp?
We chose AlumiTubs because they are made right here in BC, they are well built and the company owners were great to deal with.
Did you make any modifications to your AlumiTubs to make it suit the basecamp or the experience for your guests?
We have built some additional stairs and a little platform for people to sit on to swing their legs in. We have had guests with some mobility issues and these modifications have allowed them to enjoy the hot tub.
The hot tub is perched right on the ocean's edge. How often do guests brave the cold plunge dip in the ocean while hot tubbing?
The waters around our camp are really cold! This cold water means lots of dissolved oxygen and therefore lots of marine life. Jumping in after dark into the bioluminesce is really spectacular, but it sure isn’t for everyone. We actually have guests wear a lifejacket to make the jump as the cold can take your breath away!
The underwater hydrophone is so cool. Can you tell us more about what it's like to listen to whales?
The hydrophone lets us non-invasively experience the underwater world and listen to the conversations of whales as well as hear what they might hear underwater. The unique calls and dialects amongst the different echotypes of whales is pretty cool to learn about. There is a research station called Orca Lab just around the corner from our camps that is dedicated doing just that — studying the whales through their calls.
Besides soaking in a wood-fired hot tub, and looking for whales, what other rituals do you — or guests — partake in while staying there?
Each group seems to have their own special moment and ‘ritual’. People come from around the world as strangers and leave as friends. Often these groups have their own special song, saying, dance or moments that make their trip special to them. Kelp instruments (made from washed up Bull Kelp) and kelp bands are always popular though!
Lastly, what's next for Spirit of the West? Any exciting adventures on the horizon?
We are always keeping our eyes and ears open for ways to help people connect to these special places. We are currently working on some ways to help people actively help make the places we travel better, possibly working with local researchers or helping with beach clean ups or citizen science. The possibilities are limitless!