I know I should travel more overseas. It's just that I get so distracted by the landscapes in North America, then run out of time. If you haven't already noticed, you'll know all about it soon--I'm obsessed with Canada.
In a remote corner of Vancouver Island, the tiny towns of Ucluelet and Tofino sit at either end of the small but mighty Pacific Rim National Park. Years ago, I added the oddly-named (and how-the-heck-do-you-say-it) Ucluelet to my bucket list due to photographs I'd seen of a craggy, seastack-infested coastline. It beckoned. When I had an opportunity to be within a few hours of the area, I jumped on it and planned a sidetrip with Nathan.
I'm so glad we went. I'm not going to be able to get this place out of my brain--it is absolutely wild. It feels like Oregon and the Olympic Peninsula, only bumped up a hundred notches on the rugged, mossy, wildness scales. It's MAGICAL.
After taking a beautiful ferry ride from Port Angeles, Washington up to Victoria, BC, we stayed the evening at a pretty little bed and breakfast that overlooked Craigdarroch Castle. We went for a long, sunny walk through the castle grounds (I, of course, immediately found the resident castle cat) and down to the harbor for dinner. The next morning, we started the second leg of the drive up to Ucluelet.
Vancouver Island is very mountainous, so getting out to the coast is roundabout. We went north along the inner shore, then west on Highway 4. What a beautiful drive--the entire road closely follows rainforest, lakes, mountains and tons of roadside waterfalls. It's very curvy and narrow in places, and a bit hair-raising to drive in the pouring rain, but totally worth it. Through the mist, you can see huge thundering cascades rumbling down the hillsides into the lakes. Gahhhhhhh.
We stayed at a pretty little house on Cygnet Cove, with a beautiful view of the splashing waves and a cozy hot tub on the cliff.
While we semi-humorously dubbed this trip the "raincation", we got some excellent sunny time along with the epic blowy storms. I've never spent so much time studying hour-by-hour forecasts on Weather Underground before. We took some very rainy/windy hikes just because, well, what can you do? We weren't there to sit in our room and read all day, we were there to explore and see and experience. We did our best to put on as much rain gear as possible and explore whenever we could. The rain let up at least once a day, and the day before we left, it was gorgeous from about 10am until sunset. We did a LOT of hiking, photographing and drone-flying in those precious hours.
Some of our favorite places were the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet (especially Big Beach and south of the lighthouse), the trail to Schooner Cove, and Wickaninnish Beach. Up by Tofino, we found some beautiful little spots, along with the Tofino Brewing Company and its excellent IPA. Along the highway to Ucluelet, Cathedral Grove and its 800-year-old trees can't be missed. We were spoiled by yummy food at The Shelter (dinner in armchairs by the fireplace, anyone?), and The Wolf in the Fog (order the Block Party platter and some of the Basque cider). If you like any kind of seafood, this is the place to eat it. It tastes like it was just hauled out of the water. Which is was.
I look forward to returning to this amazing piece of the world. Next time, we'll aim for late summer when we can see more of the piercing blue skies and turquoise water. We also want to visit a few of the islands off Tofino, and hike along one of the gorgeous trails maintained by the tribes up there. Even with a full week, we'd never run out of things to see.
Here are some highlights of our trip. Enjoy! Drone video is coming soon.
And hello from Tofino!