I so desperately wanted to write this post as I was sitting at the wee table in the bay window of our Airbnb, overlooking Little Beach in Ucluelet, known by locals as Ukee. Our travel has been limited in the past few months due to ongoing restrictions in the province, so we had ambitious plans for these few days away. Getting out of the car at our incredibly beautiful Airbnb I only had one thought: three nights was never going to be enough! The time we spent at our Airbnb was always active downtime: whether it be kayaking or eating, sipping on a local beer or a coffee, admiring the glorious sunsets – sadly there was very little time to pull out the laptop (not that I’d change anything, except for us staying longer!).
Our ferry over was significantly more stressful than I’d anticipated. We left the house well before our required check in and traffic was light until we were about 1 kilometre from the highway turnoff. There we were met with ‘unprecedented’ (2020 has really made me despise that word) traffic. The amount of people that had shown up to the ferry terminal without reservations was mind blowing – while each ferry always leaves some space for cars without reservations, there were enough cars at the terminal by 8am to fill up basically every sailing for the rest of the day! As a result the whole terminal was jammed, meaning cars that did have reservations couldn’t get through. We had resigned ourselves to missing our ferry when we were suddenly met by an employee, who essentially escorted us through – I know others weren’t so lucky!
From then on things went considerably more smoothly. Upon our arrival on Nanaimo we grabbed ourselves a Nanaimo bar for the road and then got on our way. We had two stops on the way, both came recommended: one at the Taylor Creek rest area which is a swimming hole with incredibly clear water, and the other is Wally’s Creek; a series of flat rocks alongside the river, with the water carving its way through the rocks. We ate lunch next to the waterfall.
As per usual, we’d scoped out some yummy cafes and restaurants and I’m proud to say, we did not have a single bad meal. We had chicken burgers from Shipwreck (we went for pizza but the oven was broken), fish and chips from Jiggers and a nostalgic meal at one of our all time favourite spots: 1909 Kitchen. We also had the most delightful brunch at Heartwood Kitchen: not only was everything about the place and the food absolutely beautiful, it was some of the best quality food I’ve had in a very long time. Of course we also had burritos from Tacofino, and paid highly predictable visits to both Ucluelet and Tofino breweries. We scored a table on the patio at the Ucluelet Brewery, overlooking the inlet with a constant display from multiple bald eagles hunting across the water.
Our days were spent hiking and beaching, with some water activities thrown in for good measure. Andy had never surfed before, so in a country where sharks present zero threat, I was determined to get him in the water. We took a surf lesson through Relic (which of course, had many Kiwis working there) and then spent the better part of the afternoon refining our newly found skills. Andy was a natural, proud girlfriend moment 😉 We spent most of our time at Long Beach; its length and sand remind me the most of something I’d find at home. We also had an afternoon out on the water in Little Beach bay, as we had access to free kayaks from our accommodation and it was such a sheltered and idyllic spot for kayaking.
We ticked off a few good hikes, nothing too long or strenuous. We completed another portion of the Wild Pacific Trail: last time we did the lighthouse loop, this time we explored the Ancient Cedar trail and made our way out to the Rocky Bluffs. Both portions show the West Coast at its finest: rugged, gnarly and wild. We walked the Rainforest Loop in the Pacific Rim National Park – incredibly easy, predominantly on a boardwalk but some impressively gigantic trees. Our last hike was to the Canso plane wreck, also in the Pacific Rim, we climbed through some pretty dense forest, past a creepy abandoned building and then along some boardwalk through marsh, until we reached the relatively intact plane, which crashed back in 1945. It was pretty surreal to see and laughably busy. Considering we had walked past no one for at least the first ¾ of the hike there, we were amazed to see several families already at the plane when we arrived.
We crammed a lot into our three nights away, especially given our Airbnb was such a dream that we never wanted to leave. We spotted an insane amount of wildlife from our accommodation in the short term we were there: otters, seals, deer, a raccoon, so many eagles and we even saw a whale! The whole area is one that I absolutely adore, and is without a doubt one of my favourite places in Canada so far.