Five tips for a trip to Tofino in the spring
Very few plan a trip to Vancouver Island in the spring - unless they want to see the wild storms for which the Pacific Rim, the rugged west coast of the island in Canada's west, is so famous. That was also the reason why we went to Tofino in March a few years ago. We hoped to savor the elements unleashed on the island's long sandy beaches. We wanted to experience high waves, wild winds and roaring surf that breaks on the rocks off the coast between Tofino and Ucluelet. Only - that was not the case! No trace of storms! During our entire stay, which lasted less than a week.
The only snow we saw on our journey through Vancouver Island lay on the pass we passed on our way to Tofino. On the coast itself, we only saw the snow-capped peaks of the mountains that make up the backbone of the island. Instead, we had temperatures of over twenty degrees Celsius daily, bright sunshine, and a mild climate that looked more like spring than the stormy winter we'd expected. But there was enough we could do and what made this trip an unforgettable experience. Maybe these five tips will get you going to Canada's West Coast in spring, be it for stormwatching or to have the Pacific Rim National Park and its surroundings all to yourself.
The Pacific Rim Whale Festival
Every year in the second half of March, the two neighboring towns of Ucluelet and Tofino celebrate the return of the gray whales, who, from their winter quarters off the coast of Mexico or Hawaii, return to their feeding grounds in the waters off Alaska. On their way they pass close to Vancouver Island - the perfect opportunity to celebrate their arrival together with the start of spring. The feast, of course, is all about the whales, but the two small towns on Vancouver Islands's West Coast are also celebrating themselves - cooking, singing, dancing, storytelling and life together on Canada's Pacific Coast are celebrated. This festival is well worth a trip.
Whale watching off the coast of Tofino
This is a must at this time of year: when the gray whales pass by, it is worth keeping an eye out for them. With a lot of luck you might see them from the coast, but mostly they swim so far out that you have to take a boat out. We were warned to dress warmly and be prepared for rough waters - but again we enjoyed the trip in the most beautiful spring weather. We forgot the rocking of the boat as soon as we spotted the first whales, which performed their capers in front of our eyes: a fluke sank elegantly into the water, and one even did us a favor and heaved his whole body length out of the water before he let himself fall back into the water with a loud clap. We were traveling with Jamie's Whaling Station.
Flight over the Archipelago Islands of Clayoquot Sound
If the west coast of Vancouver Iceland is beautiful on the ground, then you will really appreciate this landscape from the air. We went out on a seaplane. There is nothing more typical for this country. Until a few years ago, when the road from Vancouver Island's east coast did not exist, seaplane and boat were the only means of transport linking Tofino and Ucluelet to the outside world. And Charles McDiarmid, the owner of the luxurious Wickaninnish Inn, told us, that his father, who had worked here as a doctor, made his medical visits with his own seaplane. A world best explored, how the locals do it.
A hike on the Wild Pacific Trail
You should not confuse this trail with the exhausting and rough West Coast Trail, which leads south along the entire west coast of the island from Ucluelet. The Wild Pacific Trail is - despite its name - much tamer and more comfortable. It goes back to an initiative of "Oyster" Jim Martin, an artist from Ucluelet, who makes his living by making big wooden hearts, among other things. His idea was to create a walking path from Ucluelet to the Pacific Rim National Park, a project that is still in progress. However, some sections of the trail are already finished. We chose a circular route that leads from Ucluelet along the rocky coast to the lighthouse and back into town - a good choice, as it turned out. A hiking trail that on none Journey through Vancouver Island should be missing. The path was easy to walk and ran through dense rainforest, but also past jagged little bays that reach inland here. This is exactly how we imagined the Pacific west coast of Canada.
A visit to the botanical garden of Tofino
A visit to the Tofino Botanical Garden is worth a visit throughout the year, as it shows the various forms of temperate rainforest in all parts of the world. If you visit this garden, you should not expect a sea of flowers. On the contrary, it's all about ferns, impressive trees and mosses. On a circular route, we repeatedly come to small clearings where various rainforest plants - and bizarre curiosities - are explained, and when you meet George Patterson along the way, be prepared to be made fun of. He shows a lot of humor, when he wants to save the world with his rainforest compound.
Tips from other travel bloggers
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- Rachel Elizabeth has great tips in her Guide to Camping on Vancouver Island
Do you already know:
- packing list for campers
- Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival on Vancouver Island
- Long Beach Losge in Tofino
- Hiking at Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, on the Wild Pacific Trail
- Art up close in Tofino
- Fresh fish for the Aquarium of Ucluelet
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- Ottawa Winterlude
- Ottawa Winterlude hotels
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Source: On-site research supported by Tourism British Columbia
Text: Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Photos: Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline