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Advice on whale watching/wildlife trips from Ucluelet/Tofino?

Advice on whale watching/wildlife trips from Ucluelet/Tofino?

Aug 24th, 2009, 05:43 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 550
Advice on whale watching/wildlife trips from Ucluelet/Tofino?

My husband and I will be driving from Nanimo to Uclulet on Tues., 9/15, spending Tues. & Wed. nights at a Ucluelet B&B. If we make a few stops along the way, it will probably be late afternoon before we get to Ucluelet on Tues. So we will have only a full day Wed. and maybe most of Thurs. (particularly if we don't drive back to Victoria Thurs. but stay somewhere along the way). Not long enough, I know, but that's the best we can do.

I have been looking at whale and wildlife cruises - Ocean Outfitters, Archipelago & Jamie's - but have not been able to find any info about similar cruises in previous Fodor's threads. Does anyone have experience or knowledge about any of these companies or the trips? (Thinking whales, bears, hot springs.) We're mostly interested in wildlife but supposedly there is a good chance of seeing animals to and from the hot springs. I rather doubt there will be any humpbacks around that time of year and am somewhat skeptical of spending a lot of time hunting the resident orcas -they're such fast-moving whales and I suspect only likely to be seen from a distance. So would maybe bears be a better shot? If we do the Ocean Outfitters hot springs trip, that would pretty well take care of Wed. and only leave us Thurs. AM & early afternoon for the Pacific Rim park and Pacific Rim Trail. As I occasionally suffer a bit of mal de mer, I also wonder about zodiac trips in those waters. If it might get a bit rough, I'd better off on a boat with stabilizers. Any comments/advice welcome.

Also, I'm looking at stopping Thurs. night at Port Alberni, just to get part of the trip back to Victoria out of the way but still have most of the day on the west coast. Does anyone know of somewhere else along that route with a decent hotel, comfortable bed? Or would we be better off driving farther?
polly229 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2009, 09:09 PM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 1,604
We did the Archpelago tour about the same time last year. Highly recommend it. I have lived in this area my whole life and learned more that day ! We saw bears, seals, whales, eagles. A fabulous trip on a gorgeous small yacht very comfortable and we had the optional lunch as well. We plan on doing it again with friends.
We have also done the whale watching from Tofino, in open boats. Went to the hot springs. Saw whales. Open ocean, bumpy ride, rough water compared to the Ucluelet one, however it was a calm day when we did Ucluelet.
We have also flown into Hot Springs cove as well on a small sea plane a couple of times which is great too, but then you dont get too close to the whales. I dont like the rough waters so was much happier on the yacht, not too much rolling or bumping.
When you get to Ucluelt go on the wild pacific trail, it is a fantastic trail that hugs the ocean and you can do that until around 7PM when it will get dark. You will most likely see eagles from there and maybe even whales if you are lucky, but they will be far out.
If I were you, I would spend one day doing the Archipeligo tour, you could then explore some more of Ucluelt when you return, the Wild Pacific trail has many sections to it.
I would spend the next day and head to Tofino. Stop at the Wicinninish interperative centre to see the beach there, (Quite often there are bears on the beach there too)., and there is a small museum. A resteraunt too if you want lunch. You need to pay for parking in the federal park but it is good for all of the parks for that day. Further down the road is Long Beach, you can stop for a walk along the beach there if you like, or head furher along and stop at the Schooner Cove parking lot. You can walk through the forest and boardwalks to the beach below which is less busy. At low tide you can head to the right and you will be on a very secluded sandy beach. Just watch the tides.
Tofino is a quaint little town, and not too busy in September. Sobo is a great place to have lunch or dinner.
if you like chocolate or ice cream, a small little place beside 'live to surf' and 'groovie movie' is called Tofino Chocolate where they make thier own chocolate and ice cream. To die for.... It is on the right when you are heading to Tofino, just before you get to 'Crystal Cove resort'.

Port Alberni would be fine to stop in. The Barclay Hotel (best western) is the biggest one, You could travel 1/2 hour further and stay in Parksville. There are many hotels there and lots on the beach or across the road from the beach.I dont know what your budget it.
Please let me know if you have any other questions.
live42day is offline  
Aug 24th, 2009, 10:37 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 550
Thanks for the advice. I'm definitely leaning toward the bigger boat. My previous zodiac trips have been in reasonably calm water and it might be just as well to keep it that way. Had planned to do the Wild Pacific Trail since it's very close to our B&B, as well as the Wickaninnish interpretative center and trails in the park. And now we'll have extra time. Just for the heck of it, I checked the B&B again in case of a cancellation and the other room became available Thurs. night, so we'll just change rooms and stay there, drive back to Victoria on Fri. (My husband will be very happy to hear about Tofino Chocolate.)
polly229 is offline  
Aug 25th, 2009, 02:29 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,175
We were in Tofino in June and took a whale watching trip with Jamie's. We went on one of the larger boats and took a half day trip which lasted about 3 hours. We saw grey whales and were lucky enough to see orcas too. We really enjoyed our trip. Some pictures of Tofino anf area and the boat we went start towards the bottom of this page:

Maria_H is offline  
Aug 25th, 2009, 08:00 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,916
I've done the combo hot springs/whale watching trip with Remote Passages in a zodiac and thought they did a good job. I enjoyed the zodiac (didn't think it was too bumpy) but of course it's not for everyone.
NWWanderer is offline  

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