The western coast of Canada is mountainous, wild and inaccessible to cars. One of the only places that is somewhat easy to reach, and where you can behold to force of the Pacific Ocean, is the southern coast of Vancouver Island.
Here, in 1970, the first Canadian National Park, Pacific Rim, was established. It is located a not-too-long ferry ride (about an hour and a half) from Vancouver, coupled with a few hours of driving on a winding road with exquisite views.
Pristine beaches and bays
The parks’ beaches, located at the foot of the mountain range, are pristine and dotted with numerous green islands. Human development is scarce. Climate rain forests reach the waters’ edge, and the trees don’t need a deep root system thanks to the rainy and misty climate (averaging around 3000 inches of rain a year!).
As a result, large trees get torn out of the ground by stormy winds and thrown back to the beach by the waves, where they pile up like matches. Tide schedule dictated the daily routine, allowing us a glimpse into the life of some aquatic creatures like star fish, anemones, crabs and saltwater clams. Mammals such as black bears, seals, seal ions and otters can be seen in the area as well.
Overhead, bald eagles survey the coast and enjoy the abundance of marine life. Underwater, whales and a number of different types of dolphins frequent the area year round. Suffice to say – animal lovers will enjoy this.
More about the park
The park is made up of three adjacent regions: Long beach, the Westcoast Trail and the Broken Group Islands, that separates the two.
Out of these, Long Beach is the most relevant for the average visitor. The region stretches between two small towns, with Indian roots: Ucluelet in the east and Tofino in the west. As the name suggests, the coast is sandy and wide, and perfect for walks of surfing.
There are trails leading from route 93, through the rain forest, alongside small streams, eventually arriving at the exposed ranging beach.
The area north of the park might as well be part of it. Clayoquot Sound is an amazing fjord, populated by small forest covered islands.
Cruises leave the town daily, offering marine life viewing and exploring the many forested islands. The quiet fjord waters are perfect for kayaking and it is one of the most popular activities in the area.
So, is it worth a visit or not?
To the Canadian traveler, Pacific Rim is considered to be secondary to the Rockies – somewhat of a side dish to the main course of the trip. But at the end of the day, you will feel like you should have stayed a little longer.
- Marine life viewing
- Hot Springs Cove
- Cruise to Meares
- West Coast Trail
Gray Whales and Humpback Whales can be seen during most of the year, with the occasional Killer whale (Orca) sightings. Small zodiac boats leave both Tofino and Ucluelet. If you are lucky, you might catch a whale cinematically breaching.
Any bear lovers can take a cruise that is dedicated to watching black bears emerge from the forest to dine on crabs and clams on the beach. On both cruises you can see the more “boring” animal of the region – sea lions, Otters, bald eagles and plenty of birds.