Vancouver Island’s Rugged West Coast
The west coast of Vancouver Island is not something to be missed. With rugged and beautiful coastlines, wondrously long stretches of sandy beach, and thundering waves that crash the surf, it is in stark contrast from the peaceful and calm waters of Vancouver Island’s east coast. Visiting the coastal towns of Tofino and Ucluelet will leave you wondering if you are still on the same Island.
To start your trip to the West Coast, from Port Alberni head down the Pacific Rim Highway (BC-4W) for 1 hour and 24 minutes (or 93km).
- To visit the seaside village of Tofino turn right and continue on Pacific Rim Hwy (BC-4 W) for approximately 31 minutes (or 32.3km)
- If the community of Ucluelet is your destination turn left onto Tofino / Ucluelet Hwy and continue for approximately 6 minutes (or 6.4km)
About two hours west of Port Alberni, you’ll find the world-class beaches of Tofino, dubbed the Surfing Capital of Canada and well known for its laid-back lifestyle and friendly people. As the only spot in Canada where surfers can ride the waves year-round, Tofino is a popular training ground for athletes.
Stop off at the Pacific Rim National Park’s Kwisitis Visitor Centre on your way to town. Here you can learn all about the rich history of the west coast as well as take in amazing views of the expansive and beautiful Wickaninnish Beach. Continuing on to the town of Tofino, you will find a number of top-rated restaurants. Try Shelter for an authentic west coast meal or Shed for a delicious burger and fries. If you’re looking for something to fill the rest of your day consider taking some surfing lessons, try a meandering hike through rainforest, or visit the Whale Center to book a whale-watching tour. The west coast of Vancouver Island is lucky enough to have Grays, Humpbacks, and Orcas as seasonal residents.
To learn more about what Tofino and its surrounding area has to offer be sure to visit the Tourism Tofino website.
The First Nations people have called Ucluelet their home for over 4300 years. This seaside community is growing in popularity as a destination for travellers wanting to explore the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and Tofino to the north. Outdoor activities abound, such as whale watching, surfing, stand up paddle boarding (SUP), kayaking, and storm watching. Port Alberni is the closest city to Ucluelet, about 110 kilometres away.
- things to do (hikes, beach walks, downtown shops)
Learn more about what Ucluelet has to offer at the Discover Ucluelet website
WHERE TO SURF
The most popular surfing beaches near Tofino are Chesterman Beach, Cox Bay and Long Beach. These beaches are located within 5-25 km (3-15 miles) of the town centre.
GEAR UP for ocean adventures
Island Surf Co (Qualicum)
PACK the PICNIC BASKET
Be savvy and stock up on everything you need for your travels. Tofino and Ucluelet have limited retail businesses and items may cost more. Find everything you need when you shop in Port Alberni.