The houseboat—or floating home if it’s sedentary—offers all the benefits of a cabin and boat combined. Canada’s extensive waterways make floating hotels of all shapes and sizes ideal additions to the landscape—and great destinations for those looking to get off the beaten path. So, next time you want to explore our home and native land, try staying on one of these unique vessels. We’re sure you’ll have a whale of a time.
Nimmo Bay Resort, B.C.
Located in the Great Bear Rainforest, Nimmo Bay—like many of B.C.’s wilderness getaways—is only accessible by air or water. Originally designed as a fishing lodge, they now offer a variety of wilderness adventures—and with their own A Star helicopters, you’ll have unprecedented access to B.C.’s most beautifully remote spots. There’s room for 18 guests in nine waterfront cabins, as well as services for boaters looking for a little luxury. Fun fact—the resort has a hydroelectric system that’s powered by a waterwheel in one of the nearby waterfalls.
Great Bear Lodge, B.C.
Air-accessible Great Bear Lodge has definitely earned its name—the hotel actually runs bear-watching tours. In fact, the BBC used the lodge as their home base while filming Secrets of Our Living Planet. The lodge has eight bedrooms and a cozy common area, but it’s what’s outside that’s truly spectacular: you can go hiking, stargazing, and bear watching in the Great Bear Rainforest. The lodge regularly hosts biologists who give talks and conduct interpretive walks, so guests head home with a greater appreciation for the B.C. wilderness.
Nootka Sound Resort, B.C.
Located on Galiano Bay, Nootka Sound Resort is accessible by boat and plane—if you don’t have either, you can arrange for them to come get you at nearby Moutcha Bay Resort or charter a seaplane. Lounge chairs, rustic decor, and a fire pit add a cottage feel to this floating hotel, and the fishing is second to none. This is definitely a water-centred property—even the garden floats.
Houseboats on Lac Seul, ON
Located close to Fort Frances, just north of the American border, Lac Seul floating lodges are a boat and cabin all in one. Each floating home comes with a 16-foot aluminum fishing boat—you can rent a 20 hp Honda motor, or bring your own. And if you don’t feel like piloting your own craft, there are guides available who will do that for you. You can also explore the lake with a kayak or canoe.
Making Waves Boatel, ON
This isn’t a cottage-y place at all, but if you’re staying in Toronto, you could do worse than the Boatel, a 65-foot private yacht docked at the city’s waterfront. Walking distance to pretty much all of Toronto’s attractions—including Harbourfront, the Ripley Aquarium, the Rogers Centre, and the CN Tower–the Boatel offers unique accommodation (three guestrooms) and breakfast each morning, plus beautiful views of the surrounding city and the Toronto Islands. Just FYI—the Boatel stays docked, but the owners are happy to help you arrange a harbour cruise on another boat.
Yellowknife Bay Floating B&B, NWT
Sit back and watch the aurora borealis virtually year-round in Yellowknife Bay on Great Slave Lake. Two off-grid floating cabins, accessible by water during the summer and over the ice in the winter, provide perfect viewing for the northern lights (except from the beginning of June to the middle of July, when the sun doesn’t actually set). The B&B is kind of famous—in 2012, it was featured on the Travel Channel’s Extreme Houseboats. Be aware that if you’re renting during open water season you’ll need to have basic canoe skills, since that’s how you get from the hotel to the mainland.
Floatel Penetang, ON
Just 90 minutes north of Toronto, these floating hotel rooms in Penetanguishene are a jumping-off point to the 30,000 islands in Georgian Bay. Jet skis, pontoon boats, standup paddle boards, and kayaks are all available to rent so you can explore the Bay however you like. In the winter, you can rent ice fishing equipment and snowmobiles. A bonus—the Floatel is pet friendly, and even offers pet babysitting services while you take advantage of the great outdoors.
When you’ve got a cargo ship with extra space, what do you do? Turn it into a floating hotel, of course. Passengers aboard the M/V Bella Desgagné can explore the towns and villages on the lower and middle north shore of the St. Lawrence as the boat delivers cargo and people to several stops along its route. Stops like Port-Menier, Anticosti Island, and Blanc-Sablon will give you a unique view of Quebec and, if you choose, Labrador. Many travellers take this route as part of a longer trip to Newfoundland. Hint: bring your bike if you want to explore the various towns along the way quickly and comfortably.
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