Best Private Islands: Canada's Sonora Island

British Columbia is dotted with private islands — for fishermen. But Sonora Resort has a bit more than a cabin and a fish-cleaning station. This all-inclusive Relais & Chateaux luxury outpost includes guest rooms in 12 rustic-yet-modern lodges on the otherwise undeveloped and road-free Sonora Island. Across its 64 square miles, the pure beauty of the Canadian wilderness is everywhere. Bald eagles and black bears live among the red and yellow cedars, while orcas and porpoises cavort offshore. The wildlife gets its own privacy when the resort closes from November through April. But in the summer, guests can respectfully observe the animals. An eco-adventure boat tour goes to a nearby river where families of grizzly bears catch salmon.

No need to fish yourself if you don't want to; chef Matthew Stowe will be happy to serve you his fresh catch. Here's further info from the managers of Sonora Resort: Is Sonora Resort the only development on the island? Yes! Sonora Resort is the only resort on the island; however, there are few private residences spread throughout. Sonora Island is located within the Discovery Islands at the mouth of Bute Inlet, one of the deepest inlets in North America.

Celebrating the authentic island culture

At Sonora Resort, guests have the opportunity to not only view bears in their natural surroundings but also have a chance to get right down on the river bed with them! After guests take a 30 minute Eco boat tour through the Arran rapids and Desolation Sound, they arrive in the Orford Bay, which is the original winter village site of the Homalco First Nations People.

Every summer, the Homalco would return to take advantage of the abundant Chum, Pink and Coho Salmon runs that pass through the Orford River. The Grizzly Bears think along the same lines. The guests watch Grizzlies and their cubs feed in the river bed, and with a guide who knows each bear's name and family history, it just doesn't get more authentic than that!

What makes Sonora Resort unique

Sonora Resort, a Relais & Chateaux property, has truly stuck to its heritage roots. Throughout the resort, guests will be surrounded by native artwork, history, and culture. As stated by Relais & Chateaux, Sonora Resort is unique because "Sonora Resort is a jewel of the very purest caliber. The enchantment already begins during the transfer to the hotel, accessible only by sea and air. No roads, no villas on the horizon."

Phillips Rivers walking tours are a new experience for Sonora Resorts guests for 2009. Visitors have the chance to walk among the red and yellow cedar and the western hemlock. This is where the Phillips River meets the ocean — the emerald rainforests tower above the clear water that teems with salmon.