Happy Holidays, folks. After a year’s hard working, everyone deserves a nice and lovely vacation. This holiday season, me and my wife wanted to escape from Alberta’s coldness and snow and spend some quality time in a warmer and greener place – Tofino and Ucluelet on Vancouver Island, BC definitely meet our needs, although it would be nice if we had time to go there in the summer. The good thing is that we lived in a guest house surrounded by rain forest, with a wood stove that gave us extremely nice and cozy holiday atmosphere. Oh, my goodness, I just love it!
For a PDF map of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada, please check here.
How we got there and where we lived
We flew with Air Canada from Edmonton to Vancouver on Dec. 23rd night and spent one night at St. Regis Hotel (602 Dunsmuir St., Vancouver), located about 2 minutes from the nearest Sky Train Station (City Centre, and Buses 257 and 250 are nearby as well). The hotel room was nice, but a bit small compared to those I use in Fort McMurray for work. Yeah, location, location, location! The housing prices of Vancouver are much higher than those of major cities in Alberta. I guess I won’t move to Vancouver anytime soon. LOL.
The next morning, we took the ferry at Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay at Nanaimo. It takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes to cross. Check here for the official ferry schedules. The boat was really nice, huge and very stable. People bring their vehicles and pets with them. After we arrived at Nanaimo, we took a free ride with Enterprise Rent A car and rented a vehicle, with which we drove to our guest house in Tofino. We found the guest house (49.131279,-125.894765, Tibbs Place and Abraham Drive) on VRBO. We shared the kitchen, the living room and the Man’s Cave (a garage with a wood stove) with another nice and kind tenant.
Where to buy grocery
There’s a T&T supermarket near the St. Regis Hotel and we bought some food and seafood there, just in case no grocery store is open in Tofino during the holiday. Actually, there’s a nice Walmart in Port Alberni, about 1 hour driving away from Nanaimo. So, you can get your grocery there as well.
It’s time to have fun!
Incinerator Rock on Long Beach
Our first stop in the morning on Dec. 25th, a beautiful sunny day, was Incinerator Rock on Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park. The Incinerator Rock is a giant tidal rock, which is a perfect spot for you to stand on and enjoy the view. If you don’t have a National Park annual pass, it’s $7.8 per adult. See here for more information about the fees.
RVs are not allowed in the parking lot in front of the beach at the Incinerator Rock. However, we did see people stayed in their small van campers (or, small RVs). I thought it would be nice to camp here and go surfing, kayaking, hiking, or fishing around. Actually, we did see one guy carrying a bucket, a fishing rod and his tackle walked onto a smaller rock and caught a fish a short moment later. Yeah, this location is a good one for shore fishing around Tofino and Ucluelet on Vancouver Island.
In addition to sight seeing and shore fishing, we saw people came here for surfing in as well, yeah, in the winter with we suits. I would imagine that more people could be here in summers. For myself, I don’t do surfing, but I kayak regularly in summers in Alberta. I thought it would be fun to kayak on the ocean sometime.
Hiking Light House Loop, Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet, BC
After seeing the Incinerator Rock, we went on to hiking the Light House Loop trail (30 – 45 minutes walking, 2.6 km). You can see beautiful mossy rain forest and nice coastal line. Do enjoy the frequent benches along the trail.
Hiking Half Moon Bay Trail in Pacific Rim National Park
On the way leaving Ucluelet back to our guest house in Tofino, we hiked the Willowbrae Trail and Half Moon Bay Trail. There are wood stairs on the trail. Use caution when the stairs are wet or icy. They could get very slippery.
Cox Bay Beach: surfing, walking, and sight seeing
We wrapped up the day by visiting the Cox Bay Beach Resort, where we could see the cooks preparing food for their guests on Christmas, and the Beach itself.
The Cox Bay Beach is very wide open and it’s a popular place for surfing, family gathering, dog walking, and so on.
Hot Springs Cove in Maquinna Marine Provincial Park
On Dec. 26th, we went to Maquinna Marine Provincial Park for hiking the Hot Springs Cove trail and then we enjoyed the hot spring. Use caution while getting to the cove or the hot spring water falls, as the rocks could be very slippery. It was freeing stepping on the rocks with our bare feet. However, once we get to the host spring water, we were very happy that we made it. It was a very unique experience compared to the “landscaped” hot springs in Banff and Jasper National Parks. You get hot spring water falls! With the water coming down onto my shoulders, I felt very comfortable and relaxing. It was like having a water spa – with hot spring water!
After hiking and having fun all day, we spent the nights watching movies with the wood stove on – nice and cosy, isn’t it?
How time flys – heading back
In the morning on Dec. 27th, we started driving back to Nanaimo. Before reaching Nanaimo, we have a short tour of the giant Douglous Firs in MacMillan Provincial Park.
For food lovers
In Tofino, we enjoyed great sea food in the beautiful restaurant: Shelter. At the Departure Bay ferry in Nanaimo, we really enjoyed the fresh, delicious tuna sandwiches. And, before we get back to Edmonton, we bought a full backpack of smoked salmon at Sea Drift sea food market in Nanaimo, not far away from the Departure Bay in Nanaimo. In addition, we also bought some nice spaghetti at the market on Granville Island. Oh man, the spaghetti could be one of the world’s best. We took the sea bus to get on Granville Island. It was a very short, fast, and convenient way to get on the Island.