We decided to spend a few days on Vancouver Island, so we took the ferry to Nanaimo. It was a 2 hour trip, with our truck having to go on the bottom level – as an oversized vehicle. From Nanaimo, we headed to Ucluelet and Tofino – on the west coast. It was a three hour drive along a winding two-lane highway.
In the native Nuu-chah-nulth language – Ucluelet means “people of the safe harbour”. It had a comfortable, small town feel – the population is approximately 1,800 people. Many of the local people are involved with fishing and logging, though tourism is becoming more prevalent. Fishing and charter boats continually move in and out of the harbour. The view from the rocky shoreline was spectacular.
Separated by the Pacific Rim National Park, Tofino is 30 minutes north of Ucluelet. Tofino has become a year-round hotspot. With similar population to Ucluelet- 2000 people, Tofino has moved to a tourism based economy. In the summer, the number of tourists reaches over 20,000. The town had a very bohemian atmosphere – lots of funky shops, art galleries and eclectic restaurants. The beach-line here was sandier than in Ucluelet – lots of beachcombers seeking treasures.
Both Ucluelet and Tofino are utopias for those seeking any range of outdoor experience. Hiking and biking trails permeate the area. Many come to the area for the whale-watching tours, and the coastlines are perfect for sea kayaking. What surprised John and I, was how popular surfing is along this coast. It was raining when we visited, but there were still many people on the beach. Tofino is known as Canada’s surf capital. There are a number of surf shops in both Tofino and Ucluelet, offering lessons and equipment rentals. Wet-suits are essential, but surfers can be found in the waters here almost year-round. Surfers come from all around the world to catch the Canadian waves of the Pacific Ocean.
No visit to the coast could be complete without trying some local seafood. We stopped at a popular outdoor eatery called Big Daddy’s Fish Fry in Tofino, where John had the Coconut Prawns. He gave them two thumbs up.