I wanted to share a place with you that is one of my most favourite places in the world. This is a place that holds great memories of my childhood, and one that I know will be in my future. I’ve always had a love of the west coast. Whether it be Vancouver, Victoria or Seattle, I love it all. I love the ragged coastline and the ocean, and I especially love a good winter storm.
Growing up as a child I have many fond travel related memories. We would spent much of the summer camping, and we even owned a pretty rad camper that fit in the back of my Pops 1977 Ford. I lived most of my childhood in Alberta and it has some of the best camping a person can imagine. But, my fondest memories by far were of camping on the west coast of Vancouver Island. A tiny slice of land between the small towns of Tofino and Ucluelet. This area is known as the Pacific Rim National Park, and I can remember roaming the miles long beaches as a child, seeking refuge from the wind in deadwood forts we would build. The 4 of us trailing along- mom and dad in the front with my brother and I pulling up the rear, each in our own little world as we combed the beach for treasures, such as shells or feathers. Our crazy water loving dog Dusty was always somewhere in view, and often we would walk for hours without seeing hardly any other people. I remember a summer afternoon spent watching my brother and cousin body surfing the chilly Pacific Ocean waves. I remember it was a place of peace. A place of quiet. And these memories are what drew me back to it as an adult.
After a particularly bad breakup I was seeking solitude and the only place I longed for was this coastal area. I headed here in late November and spent 3 nights reading, journaling, and exploring the empty beaches. I was fortunate to visit the day following a winter storm, so the ocean was still churning and frothing as the huge waves crashed into the shore. It was spectacular. There are numerous hiking paths within the Pacific Rim National Park that I explored and braved the cold of Chesterman Beach to watch the surfers take advantage of the large waves. A couple years later I returned with my dear friend during the spring when the season was still full of rain, and the winds cold. We rented a cabin with a hot tub, and would sit out in the warm water as the rain poured down with the sound of the crashing sea in the distance. If my heart where divided into territories a huge piece of it would belong to this place.
Tofino and Ucluelet couldn’t be more different considering they’re separated by a mere 40km. Tofino is more worldly and trendy. There’s more to do there in terms of art galleries, restaurants, and shopping. I personally prefer the quiet and seclusion of Ucluelet. I’ve walked the 2.6km loop trail to the lighthouse numerous times, and it never gets old. The recent times I’ve stayed in Ucluelet I’ve booked at Reef Point Cottages. They are middle of the road in terms of lodging, but I love that they have a kitchen, and that you can get cottages with hot tubs. Also, they are pet friendly. If luxury is your thing there are tons of beautiful resorts and inns scattered between Ucluelet and Tofino.
If you find yourself on the west coast of Canada you should make the trek to Vancouver Island, and to the western coast. Go in the winter. If you’re lucky you’ll get to see a winter storm. Bring a good book, warm clothes, and rain gear. It will stay in your heart and memories long after you’ve left. Trust me. I’m living in the Middle East and longing for this place……