After a 45-minute boat ride, our BC Ferry docks at Otter Bay on Pender Island, or the "Penders," as locals say. The two Penders (north and south islands) once joined a broad neck of land known as the Indian Portage. A narrow channel was dredged in 1903 to benefit the steamboat trip through the Gulf Islands. The islands remained separate until a single-lane bridge was built in 1955.
The Penders have a mild climate, many parks and hiking trails, and almost forty access points to the beach. South Pender has approximately 10% of the population, has fewer roads and much virgin natural vegetation. North Pender has the majority of the population. There is no city center, but there is a small shopping area (Driftwood Center) with a service station, restaurants, supermarkets, drug stores, liquor stores, banks and bakeries.
We drive the 15 km from Hope Bay to Poet & # 39; s Cove Resort and Spa. We met the super friendly staff at the reception. "Why is the resort called Poet & # 39; s Cove?" I ask. In the next two days, nobody can give me an answer, but the impressive architecture, interior design and serenity of the complex make it easy to understand.
As we explore the complex, we find solid wood, granite and soft colors combined to perfection, creating a general feeling of warmth and comfort. There are three types of accommodation in the complex: villas, cabins and lodge rooms. Each of these is tastefully decorated and offers views of the Marina and the Bedwell Harbor. It is easy to see why any poet worth his weight in salt would find this beautiful, romantic and comfortable complex truly inspiring.
Making an extra effort is evident in every detail, from heated bathroom floors, solid wood doors, night fireplaces, granite countertops and private hot tubs, to welcome cards, chocolate truffles, toiletries and folded towels . Our cabin has a deck heater, barbecue and hot tub. It seems someone really cares.
Our stay at the resort would not be a stay at the resort without a treatment at the Susurrus Spa ("whispering sound"), so we booked a massage and a pedicure. The spa is spacious with six treatment rooms. Outside, on the deck, there is a sandstone steam cave complete with a large waterfall and a jacuzzi at the bottom. Service options include facials, body wraps, manicures, pedicures, massages and beauty treatments. When we emerge later, we can see satisfaction in the face of the other.
After a dip in our private jacuzzi, we spend a restful night in our cabin overlooking the marina. We woke up the next morning and headed to breakfast at the Aurora restaurant, a luxurious dining room with attentive staff. Breakfast is excellent and serves some of the best "bennies" on the west coast! Later that night we return to dinner. We follow the suggestions of our waiter Andrés and we are very rewarded. While we sat in front of a warm campfire drinking red wine with Andres serving us excellent food, it's easy to say we were in a first class resort! Everything about Poets Cove is first class.
A visit to the activity center surprises us with what is available. Whale watching, eco-tours, vineyards, fishing, sailing, diving and kayaking. The complex has two swimming pools and a well-equipped gym.
To complete our visit to the Penders, we visited several local businesses. The first is Blood Star Gallery. We had noticed the works of art by Susan Taylor in the dining room of Poet's Cove. Its gallery is at the southern end of Pender Island and has incredible views of Mount Baker. Paintings, drawings and folk art by Susan Taylor and Frank Ducote are inspired by the surroundings of the sea and the island.
We take a look at Sahhali Oceanfront Luxury Bed and Breakfast and meet the new owners Frank and Michelle Hiebert. Show us your most recent renovations of your spectacular accommodations in Oak Bluff!
Carol Hoffmann at Ferndale B&B is very kind to show us her place even though she has a house full of guests. Spacious rooms and a comfortable lounge for guests are the highlights of this B&B.
Ken and Jean Daley, very friendly hosts, operate a Place of Your Own B&B. They offer a private suite on the lower floor with a private entrance overlooking the Navy Channel. It has a terrace near the water for storage of kayak or canoe. It is a great place to practice kayaking, as it faces a protected channel where Mayne Island is located.
At Renaissance Gallery you can buy unique homemade jewelry and look for unusual antiques. Peter & Tessa Emmings & # 39; Arcadia by the Sea has a heated pool, hot tub, tennis court and some small cabins. A great place for a family vacation. In Hope Bay Marina we find Pender Island Kayak. This is a great protected place to launch a kayak adventure.
After our day of exploring the Penders, we had dinner at the Islander restaurant in North Pender, near the ferry dock. This elegant restaurant is located in a renovated house on the water and serves exceptional food. Georgina, the owner, is a top-level chef and an excellent hostess. During the low season, she makes a real effort to unite the community. Some of their events include a "guest chef" night, "starving artists night" and a pajama party. Visiting tourists are always welcome. Our food is delicious and desserts are divine.
The next day we headed to the ferry dock to return to Victoria. For years I have been hearing about the hamburgers that are served in "The Stand", on the ferry dock. I try one. Believe me, I am not disappointed.
PS In case you don't know, the west coast of Canada is often known (jokingly) as the "left coast".