Wednesday, September 17, 2014

vancouver island's west coast...

Who knew we had Hawaii-like beaches in British Columbia? We do!

We packed up the camper and took a wee trip across the island to the west coast before summer 2014 was over. 

Right after Labour Day weekend, we caught a ferry to Nanaimo.  Though it was a little cloudy and drizzly, the weatherman told us we were in for a perfect week of camping weather.  He was right!

We spent the first night at Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park...a park which straddles the Little Qualicum River and lies on the southern shore of Cameron Lake.  Just a short hike from our campsite we viewed the falls...where the river plunges through a narrow gorge.  Beautiful...and worth the short detour from Parksville if you are ever in the area.
We so enjoy camping in September when others seem to think that camping season is over!  We shared a large provincial park with a few European tourists.

We walked along well-maintained trails through lush old-growth forests of Douglas fir and stunning, arbutus trees.  Arbutus trees are always a novelty to me...with their crooked and twisted trunks and peeling red bark.  Arbutus is the only native broadleaf evergreen tree in Canada....and grows only near the ocean.  Tall, rugged and is quite beautiful!

We left our campground in the morning...and carried on westward down Highway 4.  Our next stop was Cathedral Grove...a remnant of an ancient Douglas Fir forest.  Many trees that are over 800 years old...and one has a trunk that is 9 meters (about 30 feet) in circumference.  We explored the trails...breathed in the forest scent, observed moss hanging from every surface and gazed up the massive trunks. And took photos!

Near Port Alberni...we visited McLean Mill.  It is Canada's only commercial steam-operated sawmill, and has many of the original buildings erected by R.B. McLean when he started the sawmill in 1926.  It is a national historic site...a working mill  featuring logging demonstrations using the rebuilt equipment.  Interesting...logging being such a part of British Columbia's history. 

From there we carried on our way...up and down the narrow twisting road that is Highway 4...past scenic lakes and on to the open sea.
We arrived in Ucleluet towards evening...

...and were delighted with our campsite right on the water.

Ucluelet means 'safe harbour'...and is a town with 1,600 residents situated on the western edge of Barkley Sound.  They get a lot of rain...and little snow.  And they are rather isolated out there on the west coast...being 1 hour and 42 minutes down that winding road from the nearest town (Port Alberni).  But they like it like that!

 We were also delighted to have our friend Trish show up at our camper and welcome us to 'her town'. (For those who are trying to connect the dots...Trish was part of the MGCC blog in the early days...before she moved to Ucluelet.)  The following day...Trish returned to take us on a tour.  Who better to have as a tour guide than Trish...since she knows the ropes of Ucluelet inside and out!

She also knows all the seems!  This fisherman was just returning from his time out at sea...and more than happy to show us the catch of the day!  He told us the name of each and every fish in his cooler...but my memory is rather like a sieve.  I do know that the one with the 'big throat' is a Ling Cod.  Since everything in Ucluelet seems to revolve around only made sense that we have fish for supper.  But where?

Our trusty tour guide took us to Jigger's Fish 'n Chips...a food truck in the middle of town with outdoor seating and excellent food.  They have a good reputation for a reason!  Then it was off to tour Trish's home...her 'shack by the sea' as she calls it.  Quite a lovely shack, I must say!  And before the sun dipped behind the horizon...she took us on a sunset tour.  From our prime location...we watched the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean right before us.  And to our left...the moon was riding high.  And on our right a jet streaked upward leaving a pink trail behind.  I have lovely memories of Ucluelet at sunset on a warm September day.

While in Ucluelet...we also hiked the Wild Pacific Trail through a section of mossy rainforest and down a scenic path to the Amphitrite Lighthouse.  Folks come here to watch the waves surging above the reef...but all was calm during our visit. During the annual gray whale migration, this is also the perfect spot from which to view the whales not far from shore...or to see the sea lions and seals playing in the surf.

Before we left town and carried on up the coast...we also met up with a cousin who is one of those 1600 residents of Ucluelet.  She has made this her home for decades and quite enjoys her life here on the western edge.  As adults, our meetings have been few and far it was good to catch up and enjoy a delightful lunch on the deck of the Canadian Princess. Thanks, Lorane!

Our next stop was Long Pacific Rim National Park. It is aptly named...and is a popular surfing location in British Columbia. 

We walked in the sand...watched others surf...and marveled that we have such a beach so close to home.

Just a little further up the road is Wickaninnish Resort...which we checked out while we there.  Maybe one day we will return to watch the storms...and visit The Pointe restaurant.

We stayed at Crystal Cove Beach Resort near Tofino...where the beaches continue...

...and the sun sets are spectacular! If you ever have a chance...visit Vancouver Island's secluded west coast.

It was the perfect little end-of-summer get-away...but now it is back to real life and corn harvest on the farm. 

Whew...this was a very long post!


  1. A great post filled with so much beauty. What great spots to visit and camp in. God created so much beauty for us to enjoy. Thanks for sharing, Judy!

  2. What a beautiful vacation spot. I remember going to Nanaimo on our first trip to BC in 1978. So long ago that was now. It certainly is beautiful there and the beaches and old growth forests are gorgeous. I'm glad you shared them with us and it's always so nice to see you post. Take care and enjoy the rest of September. Pam

  3. Such a beautiful and varied country you live in!

  4. Gorgeous photos....gorgeous spot to vacation. So nice to see you with Trish.

  5. glad you enjoyed the west coast, that's my neck of the woods. Angharad

  6. You are such a good tour guide, Judy! Your mind is definitely not like sieve!
    I love the forest walks, the beaches, sunsets and seeing Trish.

  7. Your tour brought back warm memories of a motorcycle trip we took to the West coast of the Island. It truly is a fabulous place of beautiful beaches and breathtaking views.

  8. What a perfect trip!! I so enjoyed seeing each and every photo! I have been able to travel to some pretty awesome places through your blog! Places I would never have seen otherwise! We are about to go to Colorado. I have been there too many times to count in my lifetime but Louis Dean has only been once on vacation. Buffalo burgers remain his favorite memory of that trip. No camper or camping. This will be a driving and staying in motels kind of trip - but we are looking forward to it!

  9. Beautiful, beautiful photos. I'm glad the weather was so wonderful and sunny for you. The long post was great - full of fun information and photos. Always nice to see a post from you.

  10. What lovely places you visited. I long to return to Vancouver...maybe one day!

  11. Yay! We had such fun!! Thx for spending time with this talkative tour guide! Loved it. Do come again. Storm watching is amazing!!!!!!!

  12. I'm so glad you made this trip back over here and got up to Tofino. Your photos are lovely! I had the pleasure of meeting Trish two years ago, after we were 'introduced' by Vee. Where would we be without blog friends?!

  13. Looks like you accomplished alot in your little get away...but what confuses me is that you say the beaches are like Hawaii...I have yet to see you swim or surf...water temperatures don't compare....
    The islands give one more reasons to visit BC. Our own beautiful country has so much to offer.

  14. Oh wow - this brings back memories of one of our most favourite trips to that area just two summers ago! We stayed at the sweetest B & B in Ucluelet, enjoyed the Wild Pacific Trail and loved Tofino and Long Beach! Perhaps one day we will have to take our trailer on a trip back to that gorgeous area. Fall looks like a lovely time to be there too.

  15. The tourist bureaus of the places you visit, would do good to hire you to advertise for them. I always find myself wanting to visit every place you share, and this post has my wanting to jump on a plane right away. Absolutely beautiful, and it seems to me, that September is the best time to visit. Really, I want to visit and sit on the beach and watch sunsets take place, just like you shared. So interesting!

  16. I never saw that unusual Arbutus tree before, Judy! Ucluelet looks beautiful, and it must have been so nice to meet with Tricia and also a cousin on another day to share their company and see the sights with them. The Wild Pacific trail looks like one I'd enjoy, and those beautiful beaches and sunsets were all wonderful.

  17. What? I didn't comment? I thought it began with a "Trish!" Such beautiful scenes captured and framed so skillfully, too. Hope that autumn has many if its own joys for you and your family. Is the harvest in?

  18. This does indeed look like another beautiful area of British Columbia. 900 year old trees... amazing!!
    Lovely that you could meet up with Trish.
    Judy, your travel posts are always so informative and interesting. Makes me want to plan a trip.

  19. You make me 'homesick' for my favourite vacation destination. Your photos are beautiful and bring back so many memories. How nice you were able to meet up with Trish.

  20. You find such beautiful places to visit. I enjoy each and every one of your posts!


'The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.'
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson