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All reviews hot shower sea kayak kayak guide coffee delivered oysters the entire experience chef dan kayaking equipment an excellent cook guided trip british columbia sea life comfortable beds an adventure paddle boarding each morning three nights
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Reviewed March 12, 2015

Concept: the longtime dream of owner Adam (who designed the cabins) and his wife Laurie (who operates tirelessly behind the scenes despite holding down a full-time job) and two children (Ella in particular has done a splendid job with the interior design but Caleb is just as enthusiastic and passionate about this project as the rest of the family) who modelled the cabanas on Costa Rican eco-lodgings but with a distinct Canadian flair and design. Every effort has been made to ensure minimal environmental disruption (from the use of boardwalks, renewable energy sources, sensitive water systems and waste disposal) and the use of local, often reclaimed or recycled materials and staff (who are largely local too though perhaps not recycled!).

Packages: two options - one self guided, one guided, though both provide unrestricted access to kayaks and paddle boards. We opted for the five day (four night) Chill & Immerse package (self guided) and our entire stay was superb and faultless. We were the last and only guests of the 2014 season and we particularly appreciated the fact that despite the other two cabins being empty and the resort being to all intent and purposes closed for the season, we didn’t get the impression the resort and operation were winding down. Both packages are very reasonably priced considering the care, attention and luxury you get and guest/staff safety is paramount (you need to fill in a comprehensive medical questionnaire before you head out).

Access: the cabins are located on Kinghorn Island some 8 nautical miles from the Okeover Inlet put-in. Energetic guests can paddle there (this can take anything from two hours to five depending on speed and stops) while more lethargic visitors can opt, for an extra fee, for a 25 minute or so boat-ride to the island.

Cabins: there are three for guests and an extra one for staff, along with a larger dining cabin. All are beautifully and solidly handcrafted from locally milled wood and the sleeping cabins are equipped with custom-made log beds and lusciously comfortable mattresses; relaxing day beds; large, glassless windows (but with bug netting and curtains) with views to the sea through the trees and private showers with on-demand hot water. Other thoughtful touches include beach towels (as well as bath towels), masks and snorkels, head lamps and romantic candle lanterns. These cabins have been beautifully planned and crafted and Adam has thought of everything right down to the transparent roof above the door and shower allowing for maximum light. The dining cabin is a masterpiece. Skylights and open sides buttressed by large trunks let in plenty of light (solar panels backed up by a generator provide more once the sun has set) and make you feel part of the forest; the custom-made benches and table are comfortable; the breakfast bar a nice touch; the large map of the sound useful; and the decoration and colour-scheme tasteful and relaxing. There’s even an alcove where electronic devices can be recharged.

Toilets: did I mention them? No, well I didn’t want to spoil the picture, but they are probably the best thing about Cabana Desolation. Where else have you encountered gravity-fed, flushing toilets (two located at either end of camp) in the wilderness? Heaven indeed!

Activities: apart from the kayaking (lots of locations to visit nearby), guests can swim (the sea here is warm in summer - you don’t need a wetsuit); fish; explore the island though there are only limited trails and once you leave them you will need to bushwhack and require a sense of direction (the island takes about an hour to leisurely circumnavigate by kayak if you stop to explore the seashore but requires much longer to cover on foot and is surprisingly steep in places); or simply while away the hours (reference books and games are provided). Wildlife we spotted included turkey vultures, bald eagles, loons (lots of other birds), marine creatures (fish, bat stars, starfish and sea cucumbers etc.) as well as Henrietta (black-tailed deer) and Albert (seal) though I suspect Albert has multiple doubles as there is a healthy seal population on Kinghorn Island, which does apparently draw in transient orcas though we unfortunately didn’t see any.

Kayaks: top quality boats of varying makes and sizes. The latest acquisitions are Delta boats which are safe, stable, fast and track well. All come with rudders. Spray skirts, pumps, tow ropes, pfds, sponges and paddles are provided too.

Food: superb, fresh, local, balanced and beautifully presented. Dan was an accomplished, gifted and inventive chef who spoiled us with three meals daily and freshly baked snacks in between. Picnics weren’t a question of sandwiches, but featured freshly made salads, dips and cookies. Guests’ dietary requirements and preferences are respected as much as possible so we were regaled with vegetarian and seafood dishes. Dan’s menu is thoughtful too. On a cooler, wetter day he warmed us with a hearty vegetable soup, while he produced lighter fare on the other sultry ones. All his dishes were superb, but his lavender flavoured scones and sushi were particularly memorable, as were the freshly harvested oysters from neighbouring Station Island which we chose to eat raw (Dan checks with Adam for possible red tide before guests consume them). Portions weren’t just delicious, they were generous so don’t be surprised if you actually put on weight despite hours of kayaking! The resort’s policy is to provide guests with a happy hour beer or a glass of wine, but we brought our own wine and enjoyed it with our food, though we did take up the offer on our last night when we ran out of white. We offered some of our wine to Dan and he politely and thoughtfully declined (which we really appreciated as it meant all the more for us :-). Apart from cooking he also acted as the site manager and entertained us with his good humour, infectious energy and enthusiasm.

Experience: this is what Glamping is all about. Cabana Desolation allows guests to experience wilderness surroundings but without the inconvenience/hardship of wilderness camping. You’ll have all the comforts of home (of course there’s no wifi or TV but there is cell phone coverage) with the added bonus of being pampered and well looked after. It feels exclusive and it is as the three cabins guarantee privacy. But it’s the little things (things that are unfortunately becoming all too rare these days) that make Cabana Desolation so special. It’s the thought and love that have gone into the design and build; the quality of the amenities and service; and the passion that everyone involved with the project harbours.

Superb and highly recommended. The best eco-experience ever, with some of the friendliest, most helpful and passionate people. Thanks again for a wonderful time.

Date of stay: September 2014
  • Trip type: Travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
7  Thank wucie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed October 24, 2014

Picture three cozy, private wood cabins linked by a meandering cedar boardwalk nestled in a sheltered forest on a private island right at the heart of one of BC’s most popular kayaking destinations. You are surrounded by a picturesque island-dotted sound bathed in warm waters and a row of high quality kayaks and paddle boards with which to explore it (if you’re energetically inclined) or hammocks strung between trees and custom-made and strategically placed Adirondacks (if you aren’t). Behind you, your very own chef is preparing a delicious dinner of locally grown and harvested foods in the large open-air dining cabin cum kitchen. After dinner imagine retiring, pleasantly sated, to the Adirondack perched high on the rocky outcrop and watching the light fade from the sky, the outlines of the islands darken and the stars appear. If you’re really lucky you might spot the inquisitive Henrietta and Albert or witness the amazing bioluminescence that illuminates the sea at the tail end of summer. Then retire to your cozy cabin and let the sound of the waves lull you to sleep safe in the knowledge that despite the luxury and comfort of your surroundings, you are impacting minimally on the island. It sounds like heaven. Well Cabana Desolation is.

Not surprisingly despite only opening in July 2014 (and without much advertising), the Cabanas have proved very popular and they won’t be a secret for long. Not once the word gets out (why am I writing this review!?). So stop reading this and book your space for next year. Adam and his team answer all emails promptly and send any prospective guests a comprehensive pre-trip list, but here’s our take on the resort.

Concept: the longtime dream of owner Adam (who designed the cabins) and his wife Laurie (who operates tirelessly behind the scenes despite holding down a full-time job) and two children (Ella in particular has done a splendid job with the interior design but Caleb is just as enthusiastic and passionate about this project as the rest of the family) who modelled the cabanas on Costa Rican eco-lodgings but with a distinct Canadian flair and design. Every effort has been made to ensure minimal environmental disruption (from the use of boardwalks, renewable energy sources, sensitive water systems and waste disposal) and the use of local, often reclaimed or recycled materials and staff (who are largely local too though perhaps not recycled!).

Packages: two options - one self guided, one guided, though both provide unrestricted access to kayaks and paddle boards. We opted for the five day (four night) Chill & Immerse package (self guided) and our entire stay was superb and faultless. We were the last and only guests of the 2014 season and we particularly appreciated the fact that despite the other two cabins being empty and the resort being to all intent and purposes closed for the season, we didn’t get the impression the resort and operation were winding down. Both packages are very reasonably priced considering the care, attention and luxury you get and guest/staff safety is paramount (you need to fill in a comprehensive medical questionnaire before you head out).

Access: the cabins are located on Kinghorn Island some 8 nautical miles from the Okeover Inlet put-in. Energetic guests can paddle there (this can take anything from two hours to five depending on speed and stops) while more lethargic visitors can opt, for an extra fee, for a 25 minute or so boat-ride to the island.

Cabins: there are three for guests and an extra one for staff, along with a larger dining cabin. All are beautifully and solidly handcrafted from locally milled wood and the sleeping cabins are equipped with custom-made log beds and lusciously comfortable mattresses; relaxing day beds; large, glassless windows (but with bug netting and curtains) with views to the sea through the trees and private showers with on-demand hot water. Other thoughtful touches include beach towels (as well as bath towels), masks and snorkels, head lamps and romantic candle lanterns. These cabins have been beautifully planned and crafted and Adam has thought of everything right down to the transparent roof above the door and shower allowing for maximum light. The dining cabin is a masterpiece. Skylights and open sides buttressed by large trunks let in plenty of light (solar panels backed up by a generator provide more once the sun has set) and make you feel part of the forest; the custom-made benches and table are comfortable; the breakfast bar a nice touch; the large map of the sound useful; and the decoration and colour-scheme tasteful and relaxing. There’s even an alcove where electronic devices can be recharged.

Toilets: did I mention them? No, well I didn’t want to spoil the picture, but they are probably the best thing about Cabana Desolation. Where else have you encountered gravity-fed, flushing toilets (two located at either end of camp) in the wilderness? Heaven indeed!

Activities: apart from the kayaking (lots of locations to visit nearby), guests can swim (the sea here is warm in summer - you don’t need a wetsuit); fish; explore the island though there are only limited trails and once you leave them you will need to bushwhack and require a sense of direction (the island takes about an hour to leisurely circumnavigate by kayak if you stop to explore the seashore but requires much longer to cover on foot and is surprisingly steep in places); or simply while away the hours (reference books and games are provided). Wildlife we spotted included turkey vultures, bald eagles, loons (lots of other birds), marine creatures (fish, bat stars, starfish and sea cucumbers etc.) as well as Henrietta (black-tailed deer) and Albert (seal) though I suspect Albert has multiple doubles as there is a healthy seal population on Kinghorn Island, which does apparently draw in transient orcas though we unfortunately didn’t see any.

Kayaks: top quality boats of varying makes and sizes. The latest acquisitions are Delta boats which are safe, stable, fast and track well. All come with rudders. Spray skirts, pumps, tow ropes, pfds, sponges and paddles are provided too.

Food: superb, fresh, local, balanced and beautifully presented. Dan was an accomplished, gifted and inventive chef who spoiled us with three meals daily and freshly baked snacks in between. Picnics weren’t a question of sandwiches, but featured freshly made salads, dips and cookies. Guests’ dietary requirements and preferences are respected as much as possible so we were regaled with vegetarian and seafood dishes. Dan’s menu is thoughtful too. On a cooler, wetter day he warmed us with a hearty vegetable soup, while he produced lighter fare on the other sultry ones. All his dishes were superb, but his lavender flavoured scones and sushi were particularly memorable, as were the freshly harvested oysters from neighbouring Station Island which we chose to eat raw (Dan checks with Adam for possible red tide before guests consume them). Portions weren’t just delicious, they were generous so don’t be surprised if you actually put on weight despite hours of kayaking! The resort’s policy is to provide guests with a happy hour beer or a glass of wine, but we brought our own wine and enjoyed it with our food, though we did take up the offer on our last night when we ran out of white. We offered some of our wine to Dan and he politely and thoughtfully declined (which we really appreciated as it meant all the more for us :-). Apart from cooking he also acted as the site manager and entertained us with his good humour, infectious energy and enthusiasm.

Experience: this is what Glamping is all about. Cabana Desolation allows guests to experience wilderness surroundings but without the inconvenience/hardship of wilderness camping. You’ll have all the comforts of home (of course there’s no wifi or TV but there is cell phone coverage) with the added bonus of being pampered and well looked after. It feels exclusive and it is as the three cabins guarantee privacy. But it’s the little things (things that are unfortunately becoming all too rare these days) that make Cabana Desolation so special. It’s the thought and love that have gone into the design and build; the quality of the amenities and service; and the passion that everyone involved with the project harbours.

We can’t recommend Cabana Desolation enough. The only problem was that it set the bar very high for the rest of our trip which, unsurprisingly, rarely came close after that…

Thanks Adam, Dan, Laurie, Ella and Caleb for a most memorable stay. We hope to see you again some day. Oh, and Dan, get yourself enrolled on MasterChef!

5  Thank wucie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed October 17, 2014

My husband and I have travelled to many beautiful places around the world. Desolation Sound is one of the most spectacular. The four days our group of 6 spent at the Cabana Resort were truly ideal--the accommodations were so comfortable and pretty, the plentiful food was delicious, the guide knowledgeable and fun to be with. The kayaks and paddles supplied by the resort were excellent and we spent perfect days paddling around the pristine, quiet Sound.
Thank you, Adam, for your superb hospitality and the perfect resort.

3  Thank JuneSF
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC