Ever since we moved to Vancouver from London, UK, I’ve wanted to visit more of the local islands.
I know that most of them are a short ferry ride away and have readily available adventures just waiting for me, but I never made it a priority.
This summer, we’re pushing ourselves out of the door and away from the weekend routines of the same three streets we always visit for coffee, something for lunch and a walk around the shops.
The first of the places we booked, based on a recommendation from another blogger, was Woods on Pender.
An eight minute drive from the Pender Island ferry terminal will find you at the driveway to my new favourite restaurant. Seriously!
I’ll get to the accommodation in a minute, but the Coffee Kitchen is a humble name for the home to an incredible chef and ‘Chief Concept Guy’, Curtis Redel.
From the Woods on Pender website, Curtis says, “At WOODS we can do all the things we loved but ignore the things we only put up with. We have a proper Whisky Sour, very few mosquitos, no bears or cougars and hot water.”
From the burger that comes with thick, glazed bacon, chuck beef patty, greens and some sort of onion wizardry, to the breakfast parfait with berries that Curtis macerates with lavender and honey that he bought on the mainland, the Coffee Kitchen is a truly hidden gem.
It’s clear he cares about this place so much, he even creates new Spotify playlists based on who is coming for dinner.
Usually the music in a restaurant or coffee shop isn’t anything worth mentioning, but I had to download Shazam to try and figure out what the songs were. He found music that I fell in love with by artists I’d never heard of.
It’d be cruel to mention it and not share, so here’s a link Coffee Kitchen playlist.
As you drive up the hill, your pre-selected accommodation awaits, either the Woods Motel, small Shasta Airflyte (small 60s style caravan trailer) a sleek and delightfully retro Airstream trailer that has been refurbished and turned into a luxury Instagram-worthy glampsite (fancy camping) or a wooden cabin that is so beautiful it made me spend the majority of the trip trying to convince my wife to sell everything and move to the woods.
Attached to two of the three cabins are hot tubs, which provided the perfect quiet moments while my daughter napped.
When it came time to explore the island, we found a lake that only my wife was brave enough to endure the chilly water, a beach where we listened to a man play a tin whistle beautifully, and a short hike up a path to a stunning view of the ocean.
Wherever we walked, drove, or even when we stepped outside of the cozy, (and full of modern amenities) cabin, we found deer. They didn’t seem to mind our presence, and went toward my daughter’s fascination with the island. Although she thought they were reindeer and was convinced it was going to be Christmas morning when she woke up from her nap.
I know in the title I promised three surprises, but Woods on Pender has so much more. This started out as a location that my wife booked because she knew I’d love it, and she was besotted the second we arrived. So much so that within five minutes of arriving, she said “I think we should book three more days in September.” Before I suggested we go and chat with the owners or see what the food is like, she had a new confirmation email.
Alright, alright, since you asked, my top three surprises from this trip have to be:
- A chef who curates his Spotify playlists will put the same love into his food.
- A log cabin with wifi, Netflix, a hot tub, a beautifully laid out interior and a comfy bed will make your wife say “this is how camping should be” a lot.
- Pender Island is perfect.
Disclaimer: This post is completely un-sponsored. However, I am very open to offers of complementary family vacations, as long as they can live up to this!