We woke early the next morning after arriving in Ucluelet. This was partly to enjoy hearing the roaring ocean lapping at the hotel’s black, jagged rocks from our balcony. It was also partly to make the most of a day to explore this wonderful part of the world. We bundled up for a walk along the Pacific Rim National Park, and grabbed a coffee from the hotel lobby on our way out. The view always makes getting up that little bit easier.
Pacific Rim National Park
If you’re staying in Ucluelet or Tofino, a hike along the Pacific Rim National Park is a must-do. The Pacific Rim National Park is a lush national park that boasts a long beach, over a hundred tiny islands, and a rainforest trail of over 75 kilometres. It offers unique terrain with craggy rocks, misty beaches, and fir trees that literally feel as though it’s the end of the earth. I can instantly recognize images of somewhere on Vancouver Island, and I’m sure you would too. Just a short drive from the hotel, we jumped into the Jeep and headed for our first beach, Half Moon Bay.
Half Moon Bay
We arrived at the boardwalk only to spot some alarming wildlife warnings. Not only are there wolves, but also bears and cougars. Not what you want to see before heading off!
Is there really anything better than having a beach all to yourselves? It was so mysterious and special, thanks to the fog and drizzle. We went for a long walk along Half Moon Bay to see what we could find.
Every beach along this area of the Island is covered in the craziest seaweed. We couldn’t stop jumping on the seaweed tubes and bursting them, kinda gross but super satisfying. They also creepily look like snakes, don’t you think?
Half Moon Bay is a secluded beach which is ideal for visiting at low tide. There are plenty of tidal pools to explore, with sea creatures to spot. Nearby Florencia Beach is a five kilometre long beach that’s popular with surfers.
One lengthy beach walk and two coffees later, it was time to dodge the drizzle and head further down the coast. This time, the famous Long Beach – known for its epic waves and surfers to match. Unsurprisingly, Long Beach is the longest sand beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Visitors come to surf, swim, kayak, and simply sunbathe. You can spend the day and light a beach fire by night. It’s perfect for long, peaceful walks with a view.
If you’re visiting Long Beach, don’t forget to pop into the Kwisitis Visitor Centre. You’ll learn a little more about the First Nations who lived off the whale in this part of the world. It’s always good to learn a few facts along the way.
The super cold temperatures and rain didn’t stop the surfers. I’d love to have had another surf lesson at the school here, but even I wasn’t that brave. Check out the time I went surfing in Tofino.
Yes, that’s an umbrella on the beach. Clearly I haven’t quite made my transition from Brit to Canadian just yet.
While on Long Beach, you may spot these adorable sandpipers. They float along the sand so gracefully, pecking for sea creatures on their way.
Having worked up an appetite from our long morning walks, it was time to eat. If you know anything about Vancouver’s obsession with Tacofino, you’ll see where this is heading. Having been born out of Tofino – hence T(ac)ofino – the Canadian take on the Mexican favourite is simply delicious. Having visited as a regular to the Yaletown branch, the original truck is superior.
I’d heard a lot of good things about the original taco truck, so it was our first stop en route to Tofino. It serves additional menu items to any of the Vancouver eateries, so frankly, I was ready to make the most of it! Make sure to have a gringa – my whole life since has been a desperate attempt to have another. I had a chicken gringa and a classic fish taco, both of which were delicious. The only downside is that there isn’t anywhere inside to eat if it’s cold and rainy like when we visited. Hey ho, the food will keep you distracted.
With tummies full, we progressed onto another Pacific Rim National Park beach – Chesterman. Chesterman Beach is one of the most popular among Tofino locals. Just under three kilometres long, the beach is bordered by stunning beach home. At the north end, you’ll find the luxurious Wickaninnish Inn hotel.
You’ll see a sign for surf etiquette as you arrive at Chesterman Beach – that shows how seriously it’s taken here. The beach is adorable and pretty boho. We saw a little art shack which tells you a lot about the Tofino area. You can even drop in and watch wood carvers at work.
Visitors can spot all kinds of sea creatures from sand dollars to starfish in tidepools during low tide. There’s also a sandspit at low tide where you can walk across to Frank Island. From here, you can panoramic views across the entire Chesterman Beach, with mountains in the backdrop.
Of course, if you fancy you can watch surfers or even try your hand at a surf lesson. Isn’t there something quite distinct and amazing about these grey, gloomy beaches? So different to the blue ocean of Vancouver.
Feeling pretty jaded by the freezing cold rain, we admitted defeat and headed back to the car. One more stop along our way back to Ucluelet – Radar Hill. Aptly named thanks to its history back to 1954 and the beginning of the Cold War, the hill was one of the radar stations built to provide warning of attack from long range bombers.
Apparently, the views are incredible from this point with spectacular scenery, lakes, and mountains. Unfortunately, the fog wasn’t quite on our side, but this is what we could see. Check out my recent Tofino post to see what we were meant to see on a clear day.
Black Rock Oceanfront Resort, Ucluelet
We took the short, drizzly drive back to our hotel, Black Rock Oceanfront Resort. Feeling the need to defrost, we jumped into our robes, cracked on the fire, and then opened a bottle of red. It was wonderful to relax while watching the gloomy weather outside.
I’d never considered a holiday in November, but now I’m all about snuggling up in moody weather. There’s nothing quite like it.
That evening, we checked out the hotel restaurant. We had the most delicious seafood spaghetti, with fresh bread and full bodied wine. Enough exploring done for one day, we relished in the fact that the clocks would be going back that evening. This meant a bonus hour of beautiful beaches and coastline in the awesome Pacific Rim National Park.
The perfect end to a wonderful day. You can see us explore more of the beautiful area tomorrow.
Have you visited Pacific Rim National Park? If so, what did you get up to and where did you stay? Let me know your recommendations below.