Travel guide 3/3: Vancouver Island via Tofino & Ucluelet

Oh, Vancouver Island.

A final ferry ride brought us from Port Angeles into Victoria. The city is bustling with bicycles and coffee shops and bright sun, as expected during Canadian summers. We took a long drive to arrive at our cabin in Ucluelet, British Colombia - a small town 15 miles south of the popular surfing area, Tofino. I found a cute spot in the woods for us to stay that had a hot tub (a requirement for at least one of our accommodations on each trip).

After so much hiking and driving and seeing, it was nice to have the most relaxing part of our trip come at the end. There was sleeping in, and eating out, and strolling along empty beaches. Most of Vancouver Island's provincial parks are full of tourists, similar to what you'd imagine the Grand Canyon's parking lot to look like. As you drive mile after mile (slowly, because of trucks), the population starts to fade and you arrive to a quiet and sleepy part of Canada.

We ate a wonderful meal at Kuma Tofino, a tiny little bungalow filled with fresh cocktails and authentic Japanese food. And Dillon enjoyed what I can only imagine were the freshest oysters at the bar of the Ice House, while I guzzled down some crisp rosé. One morning I snuck out to grab pastries, and stumbled upon Zoe's Bakery and Café, a few minutes into Ucluelet. People and dogs spilled out onto the porch, sipping coffee and enjoying plates full of muffins and quiche and all things that make breakfast the best meal of the day. We didn't make it to Wolf in the Fog, after getting too hungry before our 9pm reservation, but I'd suggest trying to get there (if you make a reservation ahead of time!).

One thing I wouldn't take back for the world is the seaplane we took with Tofino Air. Having been on a helicopter together once before, we weren't so sure how different this would be. Gliding into the clouds from the Pacific Ocean is a pretty amazing experience, though, and one that included soaring above glaciers and watching whales close to the shore. I can't recommend enough how incredible it is to see the place you've been hiking through from the air. The colors and shapes put into perspective the scale of the land you've been traversing. 

The Wild Pacific Trail is a 9km network of trails built by a passionate Ucluelet native named "Oyster Jim." It weaves in and out of woods and rocky cliffs that overlook the sea and beyond. No surprise here, try to experience this during sunset to see magical rays of light hitting the waves and casting shadows over the rock faces. Tale is you might even see a bear on the paths. It's easy hiking with large view impact at each turn. I might have had a glass or two of rosé before "hiking" this.

If you are up for a long, winding drive and are looking to hike through woods to magical beaches, Tofino and Ucluelet are for you. Each secluded piece of coast has sea creatures flowing out of mini tide pools and tree-sized pieces of smooth drift wood that make a great bench while you eat a PB&J. There are plenty of accommodations in both towns; mainly boutique hotels and small seaside cabins, and the bar and restaurant scene is truly booming with local seafood. Sadly, here, we ended our 10 days away and started our 24 hours of travel back to Philadelphia.