Showing posts with label Vancouver Island. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vancouver Island. Show all posts

Friday 13 January 2023

Ucluelet and Tofino

We're just back from a great long weekend in Ucluelet and Tofino, with Sarah's parents.

Cox Beach, Tofino

About Tofino and Ucluelet

Ucluelet (known as Ukee - mainly because people struggle to pronounce U-clue-let) and Tofino are two small towns about 40km apart on the southern and northern ends of a peninsula on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, which border the Pacific Rim National Park.

Tofino is a world renowned surf destination, due to it's location on the west coast where waves have the opportunity to build right across the Pacific Ocean - the next landfall due West is actually Russia!  It's pretty tourist oriented, but with a great chilled out vibe as you'd expect from a surf town.  Ukee is smaller and less touristy, but also has a laid back atmosphere.  

Where to Stay in Ucluelet and Tofino

We've visited Tofino/Ukee a few times over the last 18 months, usually staying at the brilliant Surf Grove campsite, which is right on Cox Beach.  Surf Grove has amazing facilities for enjoying the beach; including surf rentals/lessons, beach side showers, beach yoga sessions, and a brand new sauna!  They have tent sites, RV sites, some RV rental units, and have just opened a pretty cool looking A-frame glamping pod.  The sunsets from Cox Beach are absolutely stunning.

This time we stayed in a beautiful cabin overlooking the beach in Ucluelet, booked through The Cabins at Terrace Beach.  'The Nest' had great views, perfect for Winter Strom Watching, and direct access to the Wild Pacific Trail.

Things to Do in Ucluelet and Tofino

The Lighthouse Loop is definitely worth a wander, it's an easy 2.6km loop with multiple view points.  We spent ages watching the sea pound into the shore, and even saw a few California Sea Lions surfing the waves.

Ukee was pretty quiet at this time of year, and one of our favourite haunts The Ucluelet Brewing Company, was actually closed for a well deserved winter break when we were there this time.  The brewery has a great patio overlooking Ukee Harbour and serves lovely Charcuterie boards, as well as beer!
Ucluelet Brewing Co
With the Ukee brewery closed, we headed up to Tofino a couple of times over the weekend.  We had another great meal at the Shed on Saturday (we also ate there last summer), and a brilliant brunch at The Schooner on Sunday.

The Tofino Brewing Co also has a great tasting room (don't forget to bring your growlers so you can take some beer home!) and is right next to the Tofino Distillery.  The distillery makes organic Vodka, Gin, and even Absinthe.  Their Old Growth Cedar gin is infused with the tips of local Red Western Cedar and is well worth a try.
About 20km south of Tofino in the Pacific Rim National Park is an amazing Rainforest Trail.  It actually consists of two loops, one on either side of the road.  Look out for the pedestrian crossing as a marker for the parking area!  Each loop is about a km long on wooden boardwalks.  The Western loop was closed for repairs this time, but is my favourite route if you don't have time for both.
Summer or Winter, Tofino and Ucluelet are well worth a visit, and I'm sure we'll be back soon!

Tuesday 3 January 2023

Happy New Year!

Hi folks, hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year.

We spent the first few days of the school holidays up at the RV, and skiing at Mount Washington. It was extremely cold (for Vancouver Island) over those few days, about -14C, and it turned out our RV batteries couldn't cope with the cold, despite being rated to -20.  The solar panels were doing a good job of charging (once we cleared the snow off), but as soon as we put any load on the batteries, they went into safe mode and gave no output.  Unfortunately that meant a dash into Courtenay to find a portable generator, so that we could keep warm!  The furnace uses propane for heat, but needs electricity to run the fan, and won't fire up without the fan running.  

We found a Champion generator in Canadian Tire, but we hadn't brought the shore power cable with us (as we didn't expect to need it), so also had to try a number of places to get a cable with the right connections.  Eventually we got one at Arbutus RV, who very helpfully sold us one, despite their parts department being closed - Thank You! 

Filling the new generator with fuel

At the end of the next day, after some nice skiing up at the mountain, the Land Rover decided not to start!  Despite a couple of attempts to boost the battery from some kind folks, there was no way it would start.  After a couple of unsuccessful attempts to get some roadside assistance (not easy at night at the top of a mountain when there is a large snow event!), we decided to leave the car and come back the next day.  Hopping on the Mount Washington Ski bus, which took us into Courtenay, and then finding a taxi to take us back to the RV, with a quick pint at Gladstone Brewing while we waited.  

The next day a friend of ours happened to be coming up to Mount Washington for some cross country skiing, and very kindly gave me a ride back up the hill in her truck and then a tow start in the car park.  After a quick dash to the RV to pick up Sarah and the boys, we headed straight back to Victoria without daring to turn off the engine!  There's always an adventure with Team Errington...

We spent Christmas with the same great friends who rescued us, at their farm near Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island.  We had quite a bit of snow, so technically a white Christmas, but it actually rained pretty constantly on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, which put a dampner on our plans to get outdoors.  We ate lots of delicious food, played lots of games, and stayed cozy by the wood burner.

Between Christmas and New Year, we spent a few more days back up at the RV, skiing at Mount Washington, exploring Miracle Beach Provincial Park (just down the road from the trailer), and also visiting the Church Street Taphouse in Comox - highly recommended.

Sarah's parent's arrived from Edinburgh on New Year's Eve.  We had a traditional Scottish Hogmanay; much merriment, singing and dancing to Auld Lang Syne, 'First Footing' by the boys, staying up too late and waking with a hangover!  We've spent a great few days with them, including family shooting competitions with the boys' new X-shot toy guns!

Boys First Footing

They're here for a couple of weeks, and we've got a few more things planned, so stay tuned... 

Here's to a 2023 full of adventures!

Wednesday 7 December 2022

Port Renfrew

Last weekend was Ridley's Birthday, so we spent a few days over in Port Renfrew on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.  It's only a couple of hours drive away from Victoria, but feels like a completely different place, and is well worth a visit.

About Port Renfrew

Port Renfrew is a small town with a population of around 150, and is the historical home of the Pacheedaht First Nation.  Known for fishing and forestry it has also developed a small tourist industry, mainly due to the wild location and the opportunities for outdoor activities, as well as the proximity to Old Growth forests.  It's known as the Tall Tree Capital of Canada!

Where to Stay in Port Renfrew

There is lots of holiday accommodation available through the usual booking sites.  We stayed in a lovely apartment overlooking the water, with a hot tub, managed by Handsome Dan's.

Port Renfrew Cabins

Things to Do in Port Renfrew

We've visited Port Renfrew a few times now, and it's one of our favourite places to visit on the island.  Here's a few suggestions on what to do if you make it out that way:

Bridgemans West Coast Eatery

This cool bar/restaurant is down by the Pacific Gateway Marina and looks over the San Juan Inlet towards the mountains.  Bridgemans is a timber framed building with large windows and a wood burning stove, and has a typical West Coast relaxed vibe.  It also serves the best smoked salmon we've ever had, the salmon is caught locally and smoked in Port Renfrew, so you can't get much shorter food miles!

Smoked Salmon at Bridgemans Port Renfrew

San Juan Inlet from Bridgemans Port Renfrew

The Renfrew Pub

Serving local craft ales and quality pub food, the pub is also worth a visit.  Only the back bar was open when we visited this time, but it looks to have lovely views out over the pier from the front deck in Summer.  We spent a fun few hours teaching the boys to play pool on the free table, while chatting with some of the locals and other visitors.

Playing pool at the Renfrew Pub
Big Lonely Doug

Big Lonely Doug is the second largest tree in Canada, about 70 metres tall and estimated to be 1000 years old.  The Douglas Fir was saved from clear cut logging in 2011 and now stands alone (hence the name!).  Doug is about a 20 minute drive from Port Renfrew up a logging road, and then about a 15 minute walk from the parking area where the road gets pretty much impassable for a normal vehicle.

Big Lonely Doug

Avatar Grove

You will pass Avatar Grove on the logging road up to Doug.  It is a protected area of Old Growth forest, and home to Canada's gnarliest tree apparently!  It's been closed for safety reasons for the whole time we've been on the island so we haven't actually been in to the grove, although there are often quite a few parked cars at the trail head, so I suspect it still gets visitors. 

Botanical Beach

This great beach is part of the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park.  It has some amazing rock/tide pool formations, many are almost perfect circles and unlike anything we have seen anywhere else. They team with sea life and look unreal at times.  Make sure you visit at low tide to see them at their best.  It's about a 20 minute walk from the car park.

Tide pools at Botanical Beach

Tide Pools at Botanical Beach

Sombrio Beach

Sombrio beach is just off the main road between Jordan River and Port Renfrew.  There are three wilderness camping areas, which have now been added to the list for next Summer.  We headed West over a cool suspension bridge and walked down to the rocky beach where we watched some brave surfers.  Turns out we should have headed East to find a beautiful 'secret' waterfall - next time!

View of Sombrio Creek

Sombrio West Beach

Sooke Oceanside Brewing

Okay, so it's not in Port Renfrew, but it's worth looking out for this small craft brewery on your way through Sooke as you're heading back to Victoria.  It has lovely ocean views, great beer, and a cool Mac 'n' Cheese food truck. 

For those of you not following us on Instagram (why aren't you?!?), here's a wee video we made of the weekend.