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 Cox Bay Beach, Tofino

(Hubert Kang photo)

Trip Ideas

Wild West Coast

A trip to Vancouver Island's wild west coast is to experience nature in all its glory. Walk through lush green rainforests where massive trees block the sky. Hike rugged shorelines or beachcomb along miles of sandy beach. Paddle with First Nations guides and learn their cultures and traditions. Travel by boat to remote villages and settlements, or take a guided wildlife viewing trip to see whales, bears and sea lions. Discover hidden galleries and eclectic attractions; award-winning restaurants, luxurious resorts and everything in between. Experience moments both tranquil and exhilarating - all part of life on the edge.

Things to Do

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Tofino

Tofino, tucked on a peninsula on Vancouver Island’s wild west coast, is a funky little... Read more beach town attracting well over half a million visitors annually with its compelling mix of wilderness, creature comforts, and laid back surf-haven vibe. Join the locals for a coffee at the Common Loaf Bake Shop, pick up some handmade treats at Chocolate Tofino, and enjoy the serenity at Eagle Aerie Gallery, where the works of Tsimshian artist Roy Henry Vickers hang in a long house setting. Just south of town, spot indigenous plants, art, and local history along the pathways of the Tofino Botanical Gardens.

West Coast Beaches

Whether it’s endless sandy beaches, wild waves crashing on a rugged shoreline, or exploring tidepools or just beachcombing, every beach on Vancouver Island’s wild west coast coast has its own unique flavour. Stroll for miles along sandy Long Beach near Tofino. Watch massive waves crash ashore along Ucluelet’s rugged shoreline. Beachcomb or explore tidepools teeming with aquatic life at Botanical Beach near Port Renfrew. Be sure to keep your camera handy – whales and wildlife abound, and west coast sunsets are stunning!

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Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

In Long Beach, run barefoot through the sand, surf the waves, stroll along a boardwalk trail, and camp under the canopy of the rainforest. At the Kwisitis Visitor Centre discover the rich history and vibrant traditions of the Nuu-chah-nulth people...
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Whale Watching on the Pacific Rim

Up to 20,000 grey whales migrate along the coast here each spring. Join the people of Tofino and... Read more Ucluelet in welcoming them at the Pacific Rim Whale Festival held every March in both towns. Can't make it in March? You can spot grey whales, humpbacks and Orcas (killer whales) in the area all summer long.

Jamie's Whale Watching

We are your one stop for adventure in Tofino & Ucluelet. Operating since 1982, we are the original whale tour company & offer whale watching, bear watching & Hot Springs Cove tours aboard high speed open zodiac-style vessels or larger, covered cru...
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(Canadian Tourism Commission photo)

Hot Springs Cove

Spend a serene day at Hot Springs Cove. These rustic geothermal springs, about 80 minutes by sea from Tofino in Maquinna Marine Provincial Park, are accessible year-round by boat or floatplane. Several water taxis and tour operators offer trips to the park. After gliding past forested islands, spotting marine mammals and birdlife on the way, you stroll along a forested boardwalk to the springs. Here, a steaming waterfall cascades into a series of pools carved into the shoreline and cooled by ocean swells, making it an idyllic setting for a relaxing soak.
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Tourism Tofino/Samantha Fyleris

Aboriginal Culture

Aboriginal people have lived on the west coast for thousands of years. Visit the Kwisitis Visitor Centre at Long Beach and learn the history and traditions of the Nuu-chah-nulth people. In Tofino, step into the serene ambiance of the Eagle Aerie Gallery, syled after a traditional cedar Northwest Coast longhouse, and view the colourful displays of decorated First Nations artist Roy Henry Vickers. Looking for a more hands-on experience? Paddle an authentic dugout canoe and learn traditions and stories from a First Nations guide with T'ashii Paddle School. 

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T'ashii Paddle School

Join your Nuu-chah-nulth guide and paddle a handcrafted dug out cedar canoe on one of our first nations canoe tours and learn about local aboriginal culture and history. Walk along thousand-year-old red cedars on the Big Tree Trail of Meares Islan...
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Tofino Botanical Gardens

Tofino revels in its beaches, laid-back vibe and outdoor lifestyle, and a journey through the Tofino Botanical Gardens is like visiting a small slice of outdoor paradise. This 5 ha/12 ac plot of waterfront, gardens and shoreline celebrates the coastal rainforest ecosystem with a network of trails that wind through gardens, ponds, funky art displays, homestead buildings, waterfront mudflats (great for birdwatching) and lush forest. After exploring the grounds, visit the Darwin Café and enjoy the cozy ambiance and healthy snacks, or dine al fresco in the colourful gardens.

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Canadian Tourism Commission

Rainforest Hikes

The west coast is famous for tall trees. Watch for massive cedar, fir and hemlock trees as you hike through lush temperate rainforest. Whether you’re on an epic multi-day hike like the world-famous West Coast Trail or exploring the trails of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, the old-growth forests will be sure to impress. To view some of the oldest and largest trees on the west coast, board a water taxi in Tofino and take a guided trek along the Big Tree Trail on Meares Island or visit Avatar Grove near Port Renfrew. 

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Ucluelet

The tiny fishing village of Ucluelet, just 40 km/25 mi south of Tofino, is a destination in its... Read more own right thanks to its stunning coastal scenery and some great dining and lodging options. Tucked between two sections of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, the village is a great base for halibut and salmon fishing, and for diving and kayaking in nearby Barkley Sound and the Broken Group Islands.  Head out with Archipelago Wildlife Cruises to see whales, bears, sea lions, and more, then enjoy a stroll along the Wild Pacific Trail, an accessible route offering stunning views over crashing surf and rugged headlands.

(Brendan van Son photo)

Wild Pacific Trail

For the feel of the West Coast Trail, without the multi-day commitment, try some short hikes around Tofino and Ucluelet. Hike around rugged headlands and through coastal rainforest on the Wild Pacific Trail. This shoreside path in and around the village of Ucluelet, offers an easy and accessible taste of the area’s magnificent coastal scenery.
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Barkley Sound Cruise

Experience the sights, sounds and smells of the west coast onboard a working coastal freighter. You will board the MV Frances Barkley in Port Alberni for a day cruise to Ucluelet through Barkley Sound and the Broken Group Islands.  Ports of call may include the abandoned whaling station Sechart, now a thriving eco-adventure and kayaking lodge. Grab a meal onboard, and sit outside and watch for whales and other sea life.

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Canadian Tourism Commission

Wildlife

It’s called the ‘wild’ west coast for a reason! When 20,000 grey whales migrate past your shores, whale watching is sure to be one of the area’s most popular activities. Whales are often spotted from the beaches and shores. Seals, sea otters and dolphins are often seen, and resident sea lions often lounge on the docks waiting for a snack from returning fishermen. Black bears can be seen foraging the beaches at low tide – take a guided trip on a zodiac-style boat to view these creatures in their element, and keep a sharp eye out: wolves and cougars are sometimes seen as well.

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Hiking on the West Coast of Vancouver Island

For the feel of the West Coast Trail without the multi-day commitment, try some short hikes... Read more around Tofino and Ucluelet.  The Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet winds through rainforest and around rugged headlands, offering an easy and accessible taste of the area’s magnificent coastal scenery. Near Tofino, the trails in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve include the lovely Schooner Cove Trail, a 2-km/1.2-mi round trip that leads to a secluded sandy beach. Or hike Long Beach; its forest-backed, driftwood-strewn sand is the ultimate beach walk.

(JF Bergeron photo)

Kayaking the Broken Group Islands

Spot eagles, seals and whales as you paddle among more than 100 islands in the Broken Group Islands, part of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
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Storm Watching on the Pacific Rim

Every winter, dozens of storms blow across the open Pacific, lashing Tofino and Ucluelet with... Read more rain, high winds, and crashing six-metre (20-foot) high waves. Do residents complain? Of course not! Storm watching is all part of the fun here, and you’re invited. Grab a seat by the window at a cozy seaside inn and watch nature do her worst. Top spots? The Wickaninnish Inn, Pacific Sands Beach Resort, and Long Beach Lodge Resort all offer ringside seats.

Tidal Pools at Botanical Beach

Marine life along BC’s coast comes in rainbow shades and Botanical Beach offers one of the... Read more best opportunities to view intertidal marine creatures and plants on Vancouver Island. Visit at low tide when the retreating ocean exposes tidal pools resembling jewelled boxes with colourful sea stars, chitons and anemones clinging to the walls. Venture out onto the flat, kelp-covered rock shelves to peer into deep, crystal-clear pools. Botanical Beach is near Port Renfrew, two hours west of Victoria. Be sure to visit Parks Canada's office in Port Renfrew or the Sooke Museum and Visitor Information Centre for details on tide times.

JF Bergeron

Port Renfrew

To get a real feel for west coast wilderness, there’s no better place than rustic Port Renfrew. This tiny community lies on the edge of the rainforest and the Pacific Ocean, and has the look and feel of a frontier town. In spite of its small size, there is delicious array of restaurants serving up fresh seafood like crab, halibut and salmon. Port Renfrew is the start (or end) of the West Coast Trail and the northern terminus of the Juan de Fuca Trail, making it a mecca for hikers. Be sure to check out Botanical Beach Provincial Park, which offers amazing tide pools and beach combing.

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Province of BC

Wilderness Cruises on the MV Uchuck III

Sign on for a maritime adventure on the MV Uchuck III. The Uchuck, a converted WWII minesweeper, sails from Gold River to settlements and logging camps along Vancouver Island's isolated northwest coast. The 100-passenger ship travels through historic Nootka Sound and Esperanza Inlet, bringing freight and passengers to coastal villages; it also ferries adventurous hikers and kayakers to places way off the beaten path. Book day and overnight trips, on-shore accommodation, and kayak launches with Get West Adventure Cruises in Gold River.

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Getting Here and Around

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Getting to Tofino and Ucluelet

BC Ferries sail every few hours from Horseshoe Bay, just north of Vancouver, to Nanaimo on... Read more Vancouver Island. From there, it’s a three to four hour drive through Vancouver Island’s mountain scenery to the coast. Travelling car-free? Tofino Bus Island Express runs daily service from Nanaimo to Tofino and Ucluelet. Orca Airways fly to Tofino from Vancouver International Airport.

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BC Ferries

From the countless inlets of the Southern Gulf Islands to the untamed wilderness of the rugged North, BC Ferries is the gateway to your next coastal BC journey. Sail through spectacular scenery aboard one of our modern, well-appointed vessels, ser...
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Victoria International Airport

Victoria International Airport (Airport Code: YYJ) is the 10 busiest airport in Canada with over 1.5 million passengers per year. Victoria is well served with more than 120 daily flights.

The airport is situated approximately 25KM (15.5...

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