Of Whales and other Wildlife.
Trip Start Jan 22, 2012
6Trip End Apr 02, 2012
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With some semblance of a plan, and the most optimistic-looking weather forecast since our arrival in Victoria, we headed north. After a brief pit-stop for fuel in Port Alberni, we continued west and quickly witnessed the sun and blue sky give way to thick, black storm clouds, a torrential downpour of rain and eventually, wet, heavy snow. As such, the drive from Port Alberni to Tofino was slow and uneventful.
Upon reaching the west coast of the island, we found accommodation and checked in to the Middle Beach Lodge (remember, if you have no life and are simply living vicariously through my travels..Dockside Waterfront Pub. Completely satisfied, we returned to the Lodge in time for fresh-baked cookies at 20:00 and then sat in the spacious and comfortable lobby to plan the coming days.
The next couple days were spent touring the area. We went to Pacific Rim National Park, where we hiked a majority of the "hiking trails" in the Long Beach Unit of the Park (see, the national park is divided into three distinct, and separate units, which also include the Broken Islands, and West Coast Trail). While the hikes were less-than-challenging, each provided some beautiful scenery. My favorite was the Half moon Bay Trail, which offered exciting hiking terrain and required us to navigate some very muddy sections and climb a number of steep staircases. We had the remote beach all to ourselves! We also made use of the Parks Canada visitor center displays, information, and an interesting presentation on wolves (which are quite common in the area)!
We drove / walked around both Tofino and Ucluelet, and sampled some of the local cuisine and found a few tasty places worth mentioning..Tough City Sushi, Breakers Deli, and of course, the restaurant at the Middle Beach Lodge.
Saturday was our last day in Tofino, and we woke early in anticipation of the whale watching tour we had reserved seats on. Considering the fact that we were visiting Tofino during the annual Pacific Rim Whale Festival (which celebrates the spring return of the grey whale populations), we felt it appropriate to take a tour. After doing some research, Maria and I decided to sail with West Coast Aquatic Safaris, aboard their 47' catamaran-style tour boat, the NANUQ (again, read my review, if you have the time). The day was perfect: clear skies, calm seas and warm weather. Over the course of our ~2.75 hour cruise, we caught glimpses of a number of different grey whale pods, sea otters, harbor seals, Stellar sea lions and bald eagles! This was definitely one of the highlights for me.
Upon returning to the dock, we said our goodbyes to Tofino and began driving back to Victoria. Now, you'll remember that I had little to say about the drive between Tofino and Port Alberni on the way out, but I will mention, however, that on the return trip home, the scenery along this stretch of highway is absolutely spectacular! During the return leg, the sky was clear, the sun was setting behind us and cast some real pretty shadows on the beautiful mountain scenery; the perfect conclusion to a short, mini-road trip to Tofino