Tofino, Ucluelet, and the Pacific Rim Travel Guide
Making the Most of Your Time
Three full days are about the minimum: once you've made the five-hour trek from Vancouver, it takes a day to unwind and allow the place get into your consciousness. A quick conversation with your host will help you hit the highlights—the best spots to view wildlife, the top trails (some get washed out in stormy weather), when to browse the galleries (some close Monday), and what musicians are playing (if nightlife is on your list).
The Pacific Rim has various festivals throughout the year.
MAR.: The Pacific Rim Whale Festival (www.pacificrimwhalefestival.com) marks the spring migration of as many as 22,000 Pacific gray whales between Mexico and the Arctic with crafts, food, and cultural events for the whole family. You can try everything from building sand-sculptures to decorating sea creature-cookies.
APR.-MAY: The Tofino Shorebird Festival (www.tourismtofino.com) celebrates the thousands of shorebirds that migrate north from Central and South America to tundra breeding grounds in Alaska. The date changes annually, so check with Tourism Tofino.
JUNE: Area lodges and food and wine producers sponsor the three-day Tofino Food and Wine Festival (www.tofinofoodandwinefestival.com) at Tofino Botanical Gardens.
JULY: The Pacific Rim Summer Festival (www.pacificrimarts.ca) is a celebration of music, dance, and the arts during the first two weeks of July.
AUG.: Hundreds of imaginatively crafted lanterns make the Tofino Lantern Festival (www.tourismtofino.com) a sight to behold. It's usually held around Labor Day weekend.
NOV.: The humble bivalve is celebrated during the Oyster Festival (www.oystergala.com), a three-day gastronomic adventure.
Thinking about some side trips? Then why not hop onto a boat or floatplane and explore the surrounding roadless wilderness? The most popular day trip is to Hot Springs Cove, where you can soak in natural rock pools. On Meares Island, an easy 20-minute boardwalk trail leads to trees up to 1,600 years old. The remote sand beaches of Vargas Island are popular in warm weather. On Flores Island, a challenging five-hour hike called Walk on the Wild Side leads through the old growth cedar, hemlock, and spruce. These destinations can be reached on various adventure tours.
For boat trips, several companies conduct multiday sea-kayaking trips to the coastal areas of Vancouver Island. Some excursions are suitable for beginners, and many trips are an excellent chance to view orcas, sea lions, and other marine wildlife. Gabriola Sea Kayaking has trips to the Broken Group Islands in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and other areas off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Majestic Ocean Kayaking offers guided half-day harbor tours, day trips, and multiday camping trips to the Broken Group Islands.
Remote Passages provides half-day whale-watching excursions as well as trips to Meares Island and to Clayoquot. For hiking and parks information, visit the B.C. Parks website. For West Coast Trail information and reservations, contact Hello BC.
British Columbia Parks (604/660–2421. www.bcparks.ca.)
Gabriola Sea Kayaking (250/247–0189. www.kayaktoursbc.com.)
Tourism BC (800/435–5622. www.hellobc.com.)
Majestic Ocean Kayaking (250/726–2860 or 800/889–7644. www.oceankayaking.com.)
Remote Passages (800/666–9833. www.remotepassages.com.)
Tla-ook Cultural Adventures (250/725–2656. www.tlaook.com.)
The Pacific Rim Visitors Centre sells park permits and provides free information and maps on the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and Tofino-Ucluelet area.
Pacific Rim Visitors Center (250/726–4212. www.pacificrimvisitor.ca.)
Tofino Visitor Info Center (1426 Pacific Rim Hwy., Tofino, BC, V0R 2Z0. 250/725–3414 or 888/720–3414. www.tourismtofino.com.)