Although I was born and raised in Vancouver and had been on many family road trips all over the province of BC, I had never been to the surfer’s paradise of Tofino. In July 2017, we took an extra long weekend and hopped on an early morning ferry at Horseshoe Bay, making our way to the beautiful seaside towns of Tofino and Ucluelet on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
The long drive from Nanaimo combined with the early morning ferry ride took a toll on us and the first thing we did when we arrived at our Airbnb in Ucluelet was take a nap. When we woke up from our nap we were rewarded with amazing views from our seaside balcony framed by large trees. We had decided to stay in neighbouring Ucluelet rather than Tofino because we had heard the prices were more reasonable but the views were just as fantastic.
Hiking in the Pacific Rim National Park
As many of the trails in Pacific Rim National Park are quite short, we decided to hit as many as we could in a day. After fueling up with a big brunch, we started our day at Wickaninnish Beach and were amazed at how far into the horizon this beach went (part of Long Beach). From Wickaninnish Beach we took the South Beach Trail to a beautiful pebbly beach that we had all to ourselves. From there we took the Nuu Chah Nulth trail to Florencia Bay to watch some local surfers enjoy the waves. The Rainforest trail took us on two 1km loop trails through towering rainforests. And finally the Schooner Cove Trail took us to Schooner Cove. We arrived at low tide and were able to walk to a rocky island and exploring tidal pools
Hikes in Pacific Rim National Park:
- South Beach Trail – near the south end of Wickaninnish Beach, just past the Kwisitis Visitor Centre, the South Beach Trail begins. The short 1.6 km trail brings you past Lismer Beach which was covered in mussel shells at low tide and extends to another pleasant beach with towering rocks. This trail also intersects with Nuu Chah Nulth trail. Parking is available at the Wickaninnish Beach Vistor Parking area.
- Nuu Chah Nulth trail – this trail can be reached from the south end of Wickaninnish Beach via the South Beach trail. It is 3.8 km to Florencia Bay through the rainforest paths. This was a great area to sit on the logs watching the surfers. There is also a parking area at Florencia Bay. There are a number of stairs to get down to this beach.
- Rainforest trail – The Rainforest trail is actually two loops on either side of the highway. The two loops total 2km and include 731 stairs. Walking along the raised wooden boardwalks you will be surrounded by lush forest of trees and ferns. There is a parking lot on the West side of the highway.
- Schooner Cove Trail – This 2km trail from the parking area near the main highway takes you to Schooner Cove (north end of Long Beach). The wooden footpath takes you through the forest, past streams to the open expanse of Schooner Cove.
Hiking the Wild Pacific Trail
The Wild Pacific Trail was a short distance from our Airbnb in Ucluelet and we set-off to explore the first section which is also known as the Lighthouse Loop. This 2.6 km loop took us past the rugged rocky cliffs and through mossy temperate rainforest before arriving at the Amphitrite Lighthouse. Plenty of beautiful viewpoints are dotted along the trail. It was a great introduction to this beautiful area.
We walked another 2.75 km along the Artist Loop section of the Wild Pacific Trail on our last day in Ucluelet.
Food in Tofino and Uclulet:
Hank’s BBQ (now closed)
Was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere and decent wine/beer list at Hank’s BBQ. The beef brisket was delicious and was served with mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, beans and cornbread. It went very well with the Witbier I had chosen off the chalkboard menu (wish I could remember the name of it).
The Blue Room
There was a long wait at this popular Sunday brunch spot but it was worth the wait for this hearty brunch of eggs, homestyle potatoes and sausage in this friendly atmosphere.
I’ve been to the Tacofino trucks and the restaurants in Vancouver many times, but the original Tacofino food truck in Tofino was better. I had a fish taco (must-have) and the beef taco and both were delicious. My boyfriend tried the fish taco and the chicken gringas (kind of like a quesadilla). I’m hoping they have the gringas at one of the Vancouver restaurants because it looked amazing. These tacos were the perfect treat after our day enjoying the trails.
Cathedral Grove was a must-see on the drive from Nanaimo to Tofino. Trails on either side of the highway lead you past enormous Douglas fir trees. The largest trees are more than 800 years old. The trails on the south side of the highway have the largest Douglas fir trees, some with a circumference of 9 metres. The north side of the highway has groves of ancient Western red cedar.
Parking is available on either side of the highway but it can get quite busy in the summer.