The Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival
It's the time of the Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival on Vancouver Island. Again and again three gray whales emerge from the waves of the Pacific in front of us. They swim north towards Alaska. For a while their backs slide out of the waves at the same time. After a while, however, the animals separate from each other. While one of the gray whales is catapulted out of the water with a jump and says goodbye to us with a splash, the other two dive. One of the whales presses its breath into the cool spring air. He sucks in oxygen again before diving into the depths. Next to him the fluke of the second rises from the waves. A sign that this is also on the way down.
Stormy ride to the whales at the Tofino Whale Festival
We drive from Long Beach Lodge, where we stay overnight, to Jamie's whale watching. We struggled to find support on the backs of the benches of our front men on the top deck of the Leviathan II. We take the excursion boat from Jamie's Whaling Station to take photos of this spectacle. We hope, gray whales to see. Around this time - in March and April - they move north from their winter grounds off the coast of Baja California. They spend the summer off the coast of Alaska.
“Put warm clothes on,” we were advised as we left Jamie's Whaling Station. “And take pills for seasickness. A trip to the whales can be bumpy. ”The boat wobbles between the waves. These have the expanse of the Pacific to make a call. But even I don't mind. The looks at the whales' capers make up for any discomfort. In addition, the sun shines so warmly from the sky, as if we were in the middle of summer.
Tofino and Ucluelet - venues at the Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival
The towns on the west coast of Vancouver Island are not old. Tofino was officially founded in 1909 on the Esowista Peninsula. Settlers had settled there at the end of the 19th century. Among them were Norwegians, Scots and English. The idea to make Tofino a tourist destination arose early on. But the geographic situation delayed the plans. It was not until 1959 that the longed-for lumberjack road was finally built over the mountains from Port Alberni.
At the Wickanninish Inn on Chesterman Beach
Charles McDiarmid, owner of the Wickaninnish Inn, shares what his father's work was like before the road was built: “My father was a doctor and didn't own a car. Instead, he had a pilot's license and an airplane. With this he flew along the coast of the island to his patients. ”It was also McDiarmid's father who recognized the opportunities for tourism in the region:“ He bought land on the coast when there was no road to Tofino. He wanted to build a motel there as soon as there was a road connection to the east of the island. ”His son was already thinking further. He ran luxury hotels before deciding to put his father's plans into action. Except that he didn't build a motel, but one of Canada's top hotels: the Wickaninnish Inn on Chesterman Beach in Tofino.
Hippies in Tofino
In the late sixties, young people came to Tofino. These built camps in the woods. At the same time, surfers surfaced on the beaches. 1970 was eventually set up the Pacific Rim National Park. When 1972 is tarred the road, it is Canada's only tarred road that reaches the Pacific Ocean. Today Tofino is the tourism center on the Pacific Rim.
Gold in Ucluelet
Ucluelet was created at the beginning of the 20. Century, when gold was discovered in Florencia Bay. However, it turned out that the mining of the precious metal was unprofitable. Therefore, the place developed into a fishing village. The second source of income is the woodworking industry. Tourism has only played a role in the fishing village for twenty years. But one sees the place its past as a fishing center and logging place.
Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival on Vancouver Island
The arrival of the gray whales off the coast of Vancouver Island gives the coastal towns an occasion to celebrate. This is not just about the 20.000 whales migrating north at the end of March. People on the west coast of Canada celebrate the beginning of spring at the Pacific Rim Whale Festival. They also celebrate life on the British Columbian coast and, above all, themselves. The Washington Post counts the festival as one of the best events Canada has to offer during the year. Organizing a party, you can do that at the Pacific Rim. With a variety of events that revolve around eating, drinking, learning and partying.
Events for everyone at the Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival
Events are offered for everyone. Those who like it culinary can start with the Fire Brigade at breakfast. Then he can award the best fish soup at the Chowder Chowdown at noon. This is offered by the local chefs. In between he can learn how the gray whales eat. And in the evening he can finally attend the dessert reception. There are as many sweets as the stomach can absorb. Alternatively, watch the bakers at Common Loaf Bakery create seafood from dough.
Sandcastles, handicrafts and interesting facts
But not only enjoyment is provided. Children like the sandcastle builders' competition. Meanwhile, her parents stroll through the handicraft market. If you want, you can find out more about diving. Or you can attend one of the lectures. It deals with issues such as protecting the world's oceans. You can find out what you can do yourself to preserve endangered species. Or you can find out more about the dolphins of British Columbia, their history, their diet and their distribution. Another lecture provides information about the feeding behavior of porpoises. You can also learn more about calamari, the meaning of life and more. Of course, whales play a role. They and their way of life are finally presented in detail.
Movies or readings at the Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival
Those who prefer culture can visit a film screening or listen to an author reading. The history of Vancouver Island's west coast is presented. Or you can listen to the stories of Roy Henry Vickers. He is a painter whose Eagle Aerie Gallery is in Tofino. If you want, you can also be introduced to basket weaving. If you want, you can also watch two artists at work in the Wickaninnish Inn.
The Pacific Rim, a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts
We choose outdoor events. So the first thing we do is visit the Botanical Garden. A New England businessman has thus fulfilled a dream. George Patterson leads us through his wonderland. The Tofino Botanical Gardens Foundation offers both teaching programs and information about the preservation of the temperate rainforest. A network of paths and boardwalks winds from the visitor center into the forest. In it Patterson transformed clearings into a series of show gardens.
In some of them you can see plants that once grew in the coastal rainforests of the world. Others, after all, are dedicated to the ethnic groups who live on Clayoquot Sound. These include the Nuu-chah-nulth Indians, the early settlers, Japanese fishing families and of course the hippies.
The Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet
In the morning we set off for the Wild Pacific Trail near Ucluelet. The trail is part of a network of trails that will extend from Ucluelet to Pacific Rim National Park once completed. Sections in the area of Ucluelet have been opened. They wind their way along the cliffs and coastal landscape on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
The views of Barkley Sound and the Broken Group Islands to the east and the ocean to the south and west are breathtaking. Our hike reveals coastal panoramas and views of the sea through cedar and spruce forests. This walk past giant trees, from which trees are already growing, makes every photographer's heart beat faster.
What is essential in your suitcase?
- rain jacket - Which is the best, you can read here
- Do you want to hike in BC? rainproof hiking shoes are essential.
- A backpack does a good job on a trip to the Pacific Rim. Hiking trails and miles of beaches invite you to take long walks and hikes.
- Check our hiking checklistwhether you have packed all the hiking equipment you need for your tour.
Net fishing in Ucluelet
The highlight of our outdoor adventure at the Pacific Rim Whale Festival Vancouver Island is this Net fishing at Terrace Beach in Ucluelet. This is organized by the local aquarium - for one simple reason. Every autumn all animals in the aquarium are released into nature. Therefore, helpers ensure new life in the exhibition showcases in spring.
They pull nets out into the water at Terrace Beach. In it they drag everything that can get caught in it. These include starfish, mussels, oysters, fish and much more. David Hurwitz, the director of the aquarium, is proud of the concept. This gives the animals their freedom again six months later. So he enthusiastically helps in collecting new guests in his aquarium. “We want to make people aware of how important it is to preserve nature in this region. Our aquarium contributes to this. ”A sentence that fits well with the Pacific Rim Whale Festival Vancouver Island.
The Pacific Rim Whale Festival takes place on March 21st 2024 instead.
Parking at the airport
Do you already know:
- Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre
- packing list for campers
- Gifts for campers and motorhomes
- Make hikers happy with these gifts
Tips for Slow Travel Experiences can be found here.
Source: On-site research for the article Pacific Rim Tofino Whale Festival on Vancouver Island with the support of Tourism Vancouver Island. However, our opinion remains our own.
Note: This article first appeared in the travel magazine 360 ° Canada.
Text: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Photos: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline