The only highway to Pacific Rim National Park is Highway 4, which starts at Parksville, travels through Port Alberni and on to Ucluelet and Tofino, 140km (86.6 miles) away. From Port Alberni, the Pacific Rim Highway (Highway 4) leads west through the rugged mountain scenery of the Mackenzie Range, past the rushing waters of Kennedy River and the shores of Kennedy Lake, to the west coast of Vancouver Island. At the edge where land meets the Pacific Ocean lies Ucluelet.
Ucluelet is surrounded by the spectacular beauty of Canada's temperate rainforest and the Pacific Ocean. Some of British Columbia's largest inventories of red cedar stand adjacent to the town. They enjoy a fairly temperate climate with year-round temperature ranges from 5º C to 20º C. Snowfall is minimal, and Ucluelet has 328 frost-free days and over 1800 hours of sunshine a year.
The Nuu-Chah-Nulth people have long used the word U-clue-let, meaning "safe harbour" and it is indeed an apt description for a village that offers both a sheltered inner harbour and magnificent vistas of the open Pacific Ocean within easy walking distance. From the sheltered inner harbour, you can spot the ever present bald eagles as they soar overhead, and keep an eye out for the Sea lions, harbour seals and river otters. While we were there on one occasion, we watched a small pod of Orcas playing in front of our room in the bay.
The rocky shoreline of the open Pacific offers spectacular view and breathtaking winter storm watching.
There are numerous signs with information about where you can hike, stroll the beach and even camp.
The Wild Pacific Trail takes you into a coastal forest walk. Don't miss this. It is well worth the hike.
Every spring, over 20,000 gray whales move through these waters on their annual migration from Baja California and Mexico to the Bering Sea. There are locations in the Park for whale watching, or you can take a whale watching tour. We took the tour in early April and were the only people on the boat and saw several Grey Whales as well as nests of Stellar Sea Lions on a side trip out to the Broken Island Group.
Down the road from Ucluelet is Long Beach in the Pacific Rim National Park... a beautiful spot to spend the day. Surfing is excellent at Long Beach. Or just go beach combing. The beach stretches for miles. For a good overview of the Pacific Rim National Park, visit the Wickaninnish Centre, an interpretive centre with theatre programs, exhibits, displays and activities helping visitors to understand the marine ecology, ocean and rainforests.
A variety of accommodations as well as excellent restaurants featuring fresh seafood are available in relaxed, casual Ucluelet. Visitors from around the world come here for the excellent fishing, whale watching, scuba diving, nature cruises, beachcombing, kayaking, wilderness hiking, the pristine nature and the 20-kilometer stretch of pristine beach at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Dive into the waters of Barkley Sound in and around the Broken Islands Group for an underwater adventure among the numerous reefs and shipwrecks or rent a kayak and go exploring.
During the winter months, nature is at its wildest during storm watching season. Eight-meter waves, thundering surf, and ocean spray whipped into a foaming frenzy provide nature's ultimate natural theatrics. Watch the storms from safe, designated viewpoints outdoors or from the comfort of an ocean view inn.
Places we recommend to stay include The Cabins at Terrace Beach.
Meaning ‘Safe Harbour’ in the Nuu-Chah-Nulth language, Ucluelet is surrounded by Canada’s spectacular temperate rainforest and the Pacific Ocean.
The rugged, dramatic views of this small town are surely nature at it’s Canadian wildest.