Camping the West Coast of Vancouver Island
If you love to camp and have not been to the West Coast of Vancouver Island this trip needs to be your next outdoor adventure. Vancouver Island is easily accessible from Bellingham.
Make early ferry reservations and take the BC ferry from Tsawwassen to Duke Point/Nanaimo. Plan to have breakfast on the ferry and keep an eye out for whales and other marine life during your two hour crossing.
Be sure to stop at the MacMillan Cathedral Grove on your way to the Long Beach peninsula and walk through the type of forest that transforms you into a dark world that makes you feel tiny. Next stop is Port Alberni where you can pick up any supplies that you have forgotten to pack before continuing your trip to the coast. Farther down the road to the coast you can eat a picnic lunch at the Taylor River Rest Area. It is a nice stop with clean restrooms and a river next to the picnic tables. Feel like doing some cliff jumping or swimming in a giant river pool? Stop a few miles farther toward the coast at a spot marked as “cliff diving” on Google Maps.
When you reach the Long Beach Peninsula information center you are almost at your destination. You can turn left and explore the fishing town of Ucluelet or turn right and continue on to the surfing town of Tofino.
Camping in Ucluelet
If you are ready for wild beach camping with pit toilets and outdoor showers make reservations at Mussel Beach Campground. The road in is six miles of washboard dirt but the reward at the end of the road is your own beach fire, great kayak access and a beautiful view of the broken group islands. Be sure to bring your own water!
Hiking in Ucluelet
Plan to spend an hour or two hiking out to Amphrite Lighthouse and walking along some of the Wild Pacific Trail. Take photos of the ocean between wind shaped trees and look for stairs down to hidden driftwood-covered beaches.
Eating in Ucluelet
If you are tired of camp food be sure to make a reservation for Norwoods Restaurant. Their menu item “A Taste of the West Coast” offers a gourmet approach to great West Coast seafood. If you are an Oyster fan be sure to reserve a table at Raven Lady Oyster Forte. You will not be disappointed.
Camping in Tofino
If you are interested in forest camping with access to a beach that you can walk six miles in either direction then Parks Canada Green Point is your campground. Each site has electricity and there are four large new tiled bathroom toilet facilities with room to clean dishes, take showers at no extra charge. Simply the best facilities we have ever seen. Reservations are open now and they go fast.
Another great campground is closer to Tofino on Long Beach where you can walk six miles on a flat sand beach is Bella Pacifica. At least check out their list of things to do in Tofino.
Hiking in Tofino
Be sure to take a shuttle out to hike the Big Tree Trail on Meares Island. This island is part of the B.C. conservation history and the opportunity to stand among these giant cedars is something that reminds us of our place in natural history.
Eating in Tofino
Plan ahead and find a way to eat at Wolf in the Fog. This is a very famous restaurant with outside and indoor seating. West Coast ambiance plus! Stop off and buy a bag of Rainforest Blend coffee at Tofino Coffee Roasting Company on your way into the city. Rainy day? Find The Pointe Restaurant Wickaninnish Inn Tofino for a great lunch with a view that consists of a 200 degree window to the waves of the West Coast. We park in their lot, have a great lunch and then go down their stairs and walk the beach in front of the Inn. You can walk for two hours in one direction on a low tide.
What else to do in Tofino?
The list ranges from Salmon Fishing to First Nations Art Galleries. You can rent Kayaks, go on a whale watching tour or spend time at their farmers market and craft shows on Saturdays. It is a great community that gets more interesting every year that we visit.
Please let us know if you would like more information about travel on the West Coast of Vancouver Island and of course, if you would like a comfortable, safe restored Westfalia Van to use during your trip. All of our vans have heaters and a built in electric refrigerator.
It is time to plan your summer adventure!
Bob and Maureen