Just north of Qualicum and hidden amongst the trees are the Free Spirit Spheres. In my opinion, the Spheres are by far the most unique accommodation available on the island and I have wanted to stay in one for as long as I can remember. Seriously… just ask my friends… I’ve been talking about them for years! I mean… Who wouldn’t want to sleep in a hanging treehouse?!
This year, on my mission to get out & play more and experience more of what the Island has to offer, I decided it was time to stop just talking about them and finally book a night!
The Spheres are usually booked quite far in advance so I emailed to request a random date in the summer as a “save the date.” I heard back within a day and turns out The Free Spirit Spheres are currently preparing for a move and only taking reservations on a month by month basis. To my surprise, they actually had a couple dates still available in March and asked if I wanted to book that instead. It was going to happen, I was going to stay in a Sphere, and I wouldn’t even have to wait that long! I called immediately to confirm a reservation and I think I smiled for 4 or 5 days afterwards.
Free Spirit Spheres has three spheres you can stay in: Eve, Eryn, and Melody. Each one is entirely unique and offers a different experience. I was booked into the Melody Sphere. On the day of my stay, I packed quickly and headed out after work with a friend.
The drive from Nanaimo to the Spheres would usually be about 45 minutes but when you stop for pizza at Salt Pizzeria, it’ll take a bit longer. The pizza is delicious though, totally worth the stop and it’s more or less on the way, so win-win!
Arriving at Free Spirit Spheres, they have a sign in the trees so you will know that you’re in the right spot and you’ll find the office right where you park. You have to look up to see the office; it’s also a Sphere hanging in the trees! Your Sphere experience starts with checking in, which honestly just made me even more excited!
Jamie met us upon check-in. He was awesome and super welcoming. He showed us around the property and, eventually, to the Sphere. Beyond the Spheres, there is a dry sauna and small galley kitchen built in the fashion of tiny houses for all guests to use. Next door, you’ll find lovely private bathhouses, one for each sphere. Equipped with showers, toilets, sinks, on-demand hot water, it’s nice to have these available during the stay.
From there, we circled a pond, making our way towards Melody. There are hand-painted rocks hidden all along the path (picture them on the edge of the pond and in the trees!) and it was fun to spot those along the way. We arrived at the composting toilet at the Melody Sphere first. Built in it’s own cool little mushroom-like space, this option saves you the trip to the bathhouse if you’d prefer.
Having showed us the lay of the land, we finally got to go to the Sphere! Melody hangs out over the edge of the path, suspended about 15 feet above the ground. There’s a bridge out to Melody and I couldn’t wait to step inside!
The door is a very cool hatch that swings off to the left. Walking into Melody, I was beaming. Melody is special for many reasons, one being its use of a murphy bed. The bed was stored upon walking in so the Sphere had an open feeling to it. A table was set up and the sides both had built-in benches with enormous porthole-style windows. A little skylight above was another highlight and made for a fun night watching the stars appear, branches blow in the wind, and the moon drift by overhead.
A quick orientation later on how the bed works, where the lights and heat are, how to use the headlamps should we need them, Jamie stepped out and let us know where to find himself, Tom, or Rosie if needed. There was a beautiful welcome basket filled with water, juice, pastries, granola bars, and a little bottle of champagne. It was just so damn delightful!
Having snapped a bunch of pictures, I wanted to pull out the bed and see how that changed the feel of the Sphere. In all honesty, it made it better! I laid there, eating pizza, laughing, and feeling the sway of the wind.
Throughout the night, the Sphere did move with the wind and the trees. I want to say it was like being on the ocean, but it was different. Maybe it was the feeling of constant motion that is comparable between sleeping in a Sphere and being on the ocean, but the feel of the two is different for sure.
Before going, I was slightly afraid I’d be cold during the night but, happily, I wasn’t at all. The Spheres are heated so I can’t actually explain why I thought I’d be cold… The whole idea seems totally silly now! In terms of amenities, the Spheres have dishes, a kettle, tea, garbage, compost, and a small sink (for gray water disposal). Short of using a bathroom, you don’t really need to leave the Sphere if you don’t want to!
I slept like a baby in the Sphere (and if you know me, you know that’s an amazing feat!). Check-out time is 11:30 and I think it was 11:27 when we finally made our way out of the Sphere. Having enjoyed showers in the bathhouse and a walk around the pond in the morning, it was hard to think about leaving! Jamie joked he was just about to come by banging pots & pans to make sure we were up, but we told him it was just that we didn’t want to leave.
Free Spirit Spheres is located centrally on the Island and is surrounded by natural rainforest beauty. In the surrounding areas of Parksville and Qualicum, there are so many different parks to explore, restaurants to try (check out our Local Food Adventure post for inspiration!), and beaches to find that you could stay for a few nights and easily make a vacation of out it.
With two new Spheres, Luna and Flora, being added to the lineup soon, the Free Spirit Spheres are more accessible than ever. I just recommend that you don’t wait as long as I did to experience this… Go have a night sleeping in a hanging treehouse!
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