Tofino or Her Beautiful Little Sister
Trip Advisor, traveler’s choice awarded the little town of Tofino in their top 10 travel destinations in Canada. That’s a pretty big honor for a town with a population of 1,500 inhabitants. This number triples in the summer with visitors from all over the world. Well done Tofino!
Though Ucluelet, pronounced U-CLUE-LET, has a similar population to Tofino, fewer large hotels make Ucluelet a quiet, friendly, less busy village. However, with just a little over ½ hour drive to Tofino, both communities can be easily enjoyed. Visitors are often amazed at how much Tofino’s lesser known neighbor, Ucluelet, has to offer.
The Pacific Rim National Park, Long Beach, is situated between the two towns with surfing, long stretches of sandy beaches, and hiking trails carved out of the rainforest.
Photo, The Boys by Revertebrate
The section of Long Beach closest to Ucluelet, Wickininish Beach, houses the Kwistis Visitor Centre. The center displays history, past and present, of the Nuu-chal-nulth First Nations, as well as maritime history of the many shipwrecks in the Graveyard of the Pacific, the name given to the local seas. The displays housed of the natural world are enhanced with interpretive walks on the beach and in the forest that are appreciated by all ages.
The Pacific Rim National Park sandwiches Ucluelet with PRNP Long Beach to the West and PRNP Broken Group Island to the East. Kayaker enjoy the pristine wilderness of the islands while others arrive in by boat to Barkley sound for whale watching tours. These activities are also shared inTofino where whale watching and kayak tours occur in beautiful Clayoquot Sound.
Bear tours occur in the inlets around Tofino and in Ucluelet along the shore line as well as the long protected harbour that gave the town its name; Ucluelet was derived from a Nuu-Chal-Nulth word for "safe harbour".
in addition to the calm protected harbour, there are also many protected bays and beaches in Ucluelet that are enjoyed by Stand Up Paddle boarders, and beach combers. Little Beach Bay, in Ucluelet, is a favorite spot for SUP boarders.
Tofino is better known for surfing, since Chesterman's Beach is within the village. However, the fact that Ucluelet has many surfs shops indicate that Ucluelet is also a surf destination. It is only a 10 minute drive to Wickininish Beach turn off to catch the Long Beach waves in the Park. Winter surfing in Barley Sound is amazing wilderness surfing while a 20 minute drive to Cox's Bay or Chesterman's Beach gives you access to the surfing areas adjacent to Tofino.
Though there are many protected bays around Ucluelet, much of the coastline has shoreline unprotected by islands or bays where the landscape goes from calm to thrilling during storms. The Wild Pacific Trail and the Lighthouse are great places to watch the power of the waves. If you are looking for more sheltered storm watching, Tofino and Ucluelet restaurants where diners are entertained by crashing waves while enjoying a tasty feast. There are also many accomodations in both villages where guests can enjoy the crashing waves while sitting by the warmth of a fire.
Both communities enjoy world class restaurants, unique shopping, art galleries, inviting accommodations, and hiking trails.
A short walk from most of Ucluelet’s accommodations is the Wild Pacific Trail, a world class 9 km hike that is carved out of the rainforest and follows along the dramatically beautiful coastline. It has been voted by visitors as the #1 attraction in BC and has been listed in New York Times top places to see in the world. Tofino also has the 3 km Tonquin Trail that meanders through the forest and opens up to coastline looking out to magnificent views of Clayoquot Sound.
Beyond the many tourists that stay in the area, Ucluelet houses the only catch and release aquarium in the world. These short term aquatic visitors meet with human visitors in the spring and leave to their watery home during a release party in the fall.
Photo by Rikki Julius Ruque
As close neighbours, there are many activities shared by both communities, including the Pacific Rim Whale Festival and the Tea Festival hosted by both Ucluelet and Tofino. There are also many activities that encourage neighbours to come for a visit, for example Ucluelet’s Ukee Days and Tofino’s Food and Wine Festival.
Whether you are planning a trip to catch salmon, surf, dive, paddle, cycle, hike, shop, or just sit and watch the tide go out and then come back again, you will be thrilled with all that the West Coast has to offer. Being in such close proximity, you really don't need to choose whether to "hang your hat" in the top rated Village of Tofino or the beautiful, unspoiled little sister, Ucluelet. We are close neighbours and look forward to you sharing our little slice of heaven.