The wild west coast of Vancouver Island’s Long Beach area offers pristine wilderness, old-growth rain forest, endless beaches, and mystical vistas. Bald eagles appear in large numbers in Clayoquot Sound, a UNESCO biosphere reserve, while the Pacific Ocean teems with Dall’s porpoises, sea lions, and seals. Surfing, fishing, kayaking, and storm watching are superb.
Eagle Aerie Gallery: 350 Campbell St, Tofino; open 10am–5pm daily; www.royhenryvickers.com
Kwisitis Visitor Centre: 485 Wick Rd, Ucluelet; open 10am–5pm Fri–Sun (daily in summer)
Wild Pacific Trail: www.wildpacifictrail.com
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada: www.pc.gc.ca
West Coast Trail: www.westcoasttrail.com
Hot Springs Cove
Rolling waves thrash the sandy shores of this seemingly endless beach, 15.5 miles (25 km) in length. Temperate rain forests featuring giant Sitka spruce and cedars border the beach. The Pacific Ocean rollers offer year-round surfing.
The cedar-planked Eagle Aerie Gallery in Tofino is a tranquil hand-hewn longhouse traditional to the local First Nations people. Internationally acclaimed Tsimshian printmaker Roy Henry Vickers is the gallerist.
This small town is the gateway to multiple outdoor activities on both land and water. Avid fishers flock here for steelhead, sturgeon, halibut, and Pacific and freshwater salmon. The climate is temperate, with 328 frost-free days a year.
Displays at this center show the natural history of the area and introduce historic cultural objects of the local Nuu-chah-nulth people.
This 10-mile (16-km) trail runs alongside the ocean through rain forest, from the tip of the Ucluelet peninsula to the Pacific Rim National Park.
Accessed by boat or water taxi, visitors to Meares Island can walk the Boardwalk Trail to the hanging garden tree, an ancient red cedar.
This park is a famous spot for whale-watching, and spans three distinct areas: Long Beach, the West Coast Trail, and the Broken Group Islands.
The West Coast Trail is a challenging 46-mile (75-km) hike along a historic path built to help shipwrecked mariners. Waterfalls, arches, and caves dot the rocky coast.
This pretty coastal town was named by the Spanish explorer Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra after one of his teachers, a hydrographer. Located at the entrance to Clayoquot Sound, and with just 1,900 residents, Tofino provides easy access to idyllic beaches, and is a magnet for outdoor adventurers, winter storm watchers, and foodies.
A popular outing 23 miles (37 km) to the northwest of Tofino is Hot Springs Cove, reached by floatplane or boat. Stroll on a boardwalk through old-growth rain forest, before immersing yourself in one of the rocky geothermal pools.
Each year, an estimated 20,000 gray whales migrate past the Vancouver Island coast around Long Beach. They are on an 11,000-mile (17,700-km) round trip, migrating south from the Arctic to their breeding grounds off southern California and Mexico between the months of December and early February, and returning north from March through May.