Tuesday, 20 January 2015

A quick winter visit to Tofino, Ucluelet and Pacific Rim National Park

by Keith and Heather Nicol
View near the Amphitrite Lighthouse
     We decided to take advantage of a good weather forecast on Friday, January 16th to head to the Tofino area on the wild west coast of Vancouver Island. Although Thursday was rainy and windy, Friday’s forecast was for sunny skies and highs of 10 C and so we quickly arranged some accommodation and set out from Courtenay around noon. We arrived about 3 hours later and checked in. The forecast was pretty much bang on and although the wind buffeted our Ucluelet guesthouse that night, it did dawn sunny with light winds the next morning. First we hiked a portion of the Wild Pacific trail in Ucluelet which we loved. The huge waves rolled in smashing on rocks and tossing spray many meters into the air. Be sure to see the Amphitrite Lighthouse which is on the upper end of the 8 km trail. From there we checked out the Ancient Cedars trail which passes by some monstrous trees and we highly recommend this 1 km loop which is located near the lower end of the Wild Pacific trail. 
Keith along the well named Wild Pacific Trail
     We then worked our way north toward Tofino stopping at Florencia Beach and Long Beach. Close to 40 years ago we had visited Long Beach and at that time you could camp on the beach and the entire area was much less developed. You can’t camp on the beach now but there were lots of people beach walking , taking advantage of a fine mid winter day. We also took a drive up Radar Hill but by now the clouds had begun to roll in so our views were truncated. That evening we checked into the Tofino Travellers Guesthouse which we suggest for anyone looking for great value while staying in this area (see blog below for more details). 

Heather walking along Florencia Beach
 Saturday, January 17th we visited the Eagle Aerie Gallery in Tofino which features  the amazing work of  artist, Roy Vickers. We also visited North Chesterman Beach and the surfers were out in force. This area has certainly become a surfer’s destination and it showed by the dozens of people out playing in the big waves that were rolling in. By mid afternoon the showers returned in earnest so we decided to head back to Courtenay realizing that we had just touched the surface of what this area has to offer. We can’t wait to return!  For more information check out Ucluelet (http://ucluelet.ca/ ) and Tofino tourism (http://www.tourismtofino.com/) . 
Surfing is alive and well at Chesterman Beach

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