Monday 13 March 2023

Moving On...

So, a few weeks ago we found out that I (Ridley) had been selected for promotion at work.  It was bitter-sweet news; it had been my aim since joining the Royal Navy in 2000 to get to Commander, but at the same time it means leaving Canada and heading back to the UK (at least for a while).

We have absolutely loved living in Canada for the last 4 and a half years; we've explored some amazing places, given the boys some awesome experiences, and met lots of great people we're lucky enough to call life-long friends (you know who you are!).

It's hard to capture just how much we've done in Canada, so far we've: 

  • lived in two Capitals (Ottawa and Victoria);
  • lived in our RV trailer for 6 weeks;
  • visited 10 out of the 13 Provinces and Territories; 
  • driven from Coast to Coast; 
  • visited over 30 National and Provincial Parks; 
  • some of us have learned to swim, SUP, kayak, karate, sail, water-ski, ski, skate, and snowshoe (our activities don't have to begin with 's' or 'k', but it helps!); 
  • and lived through a global pandemic.

The boys have both lived in Canada for more than half of their lives and have only been back to the UK twice; they don't really remember much about our lives in the UK and are sad to be leaving their new friends.  It's an unsettling time for all of us, as we don't yet know where in the UK my next job will be, or where we will live, but it's an exciting time too.

We're looking forward to catching up with friends and family back in the UK, and we're determined to continue adventuring when we get back.  It's easy to stay motivated to explore when you know you have a limited amount of time in one place, but as we've learned with the loss of my mum and cousin in the last two years - life is short, so keep exploring.  In the words of Cody Johnson:

    If you got a chance, take it, take it while you got a chance,
    If you got a dream, chase it, cause a dream won't chase you back, 
    If you're gonna love somebody,
    Hold em as long, and as strong, and as close as you can,
    Til you can't.

We've got about six months left in Victoria, so have lots of exciting things planned; including lots more camping, visits from friends, and a trip to the Northwest Territories which will take us up to 11 of 13 Provinces and Territories.  Maybe we'll squeeze in the last two before we go!

If you can think of anything else that should be on our 'bucket list' before we go, drop us a line in the comments.

Wednesday 1 March 2023

Southern Gulf Islands

We spent a lot of last Summer backcountry camping in the Southern Gulf Islands, and we're hoping to do a lot more this season.  

Just a boat ride away from Vancouver Island in British Columbia, the Southern Gulf islands contain some beautiful campsites; they're managed by Parks Canada, as part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, or as Provincial Reserves by BC Parks.  Each island and campsite is very different, so we haven't ranked them in any particular order, but this is what we think are the best backcountry campgrounds (of the ones we've explored so far!) in the Southern Gulf Islands to inspire your next trip. 

Top 5 Southern Gulf Islands Backcountry Campsites

1. Sidney Island

Sidney Spit campground is technically a frontcountry campsite according to Parks Canada, however it can only be accessed by boat and has no fresh water, so it definitely feels like a backcountry site to us!

View of Mount Baker from Sidney Spit

Getting There

Despite the backcountry feel, Sidney Spit is actually one of the easiest campgrounds in the Southern Gulf Islands to access.  It's only about 2.5 nautical miles from the boat launch in Sidney on Vancouver Island; so easily manageable in a small motor boat, or even by kayak.  If you don't have your own boat you can also get to the island as a foot passenger on the Sidney Spit Ferry from Port Sidney Marina (bookings are recommended).

It's about a 20 minute walk from the ferry landing / boat mooring pontoons, but there are wheelbarrows available for your kit.  If you're taking your own boat / kayak you can actually land on the beach near the campsites, just make sure you stay out of the lagoon, which is a protected nature reserve with no access (even non-motorised).

Sidney Island Lagoon at Sunset

The Campsites

There are 29 individual campsites with picnic benches, and one group camping area.  There is a covered picnic / BBQ area with food caches, and two pit toilet facilities.   There is no potable water. Booking is highly recommended through the Parks Canada website.

Why we love it

Sidney Spit is a great intro to boat camping, it's so close to Sidney that if you forget something you can just nip back over!  There are two great sandy beaches, one beside the campground and the other on the spit.  It is one of the larger sites we're recommending, so doesn't have the full remote feeling, but is much quieter once the last ferry leaves.  The lagoon beside the campground is full of wildlife; we saw a huge family of otters swimming right by our campsite, as well as a group of hunting harbour seals breaching out of the water, and literally hundreds of sea birds.  From Sidney Island you can also explore some of the further away Gulf Islands.  The Penders (North and South) are some of our favourites, the pub at Port Browning Marina and travelling up the Pender Canal are definitely worth the trip.  We've seen Humpbacks or Orca from the boat every time we've been out to Pender!  

Boys playing beach volleyball at Sidney Spit

2. Saturna Island

Our favourite campsite on Saturna Island is at Narvaez Bay, it's a sheltered cove protected by the East Point peninsula on the south eastern coast of Saturna.

Stryker inflatable boat moored at Narvaez Bay, Saturna, BC

Getting There

Saturna was one of our longest boat trips last summer at around 15 nautical miles from our preferred boat launch at Sidney. There are no moorings or pontoon at Narvaez, but the bay is very sheltered and we just left the boat on the beach overnight, tied to a big tree!

If you don't have access to a boat, you can also get to Saturna Island with BC Ferries from Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island or Tswassen on the mainland (as well as from some of the other Gulf Islands). If you're coming this way it's 1.7km each way from the parking area.  A few other campers had hiked or biked in to the campground while we were there.

The Campsites

There are only 7 campsites at Narvaez Bay campground, so get in quick with your bookings through Parks Canada.  Nestled under the trees, most have lovely views over the bay.  There are pit toilets, but no potable water.

Tent at Narvaez Bay Campsite, Saturna, BC

Why we love it

East Point on Saturna is a well known spot for whale watching, and last time we headed out to Narvaez Bay we were treated to an amazing display of aerial acrobatics by a large pod of Orca.  The sheltered cove is the perfect place to leave the boat overnight.  Narvaez has that great backcountry remote feel due to it's small size, but it is a longer trip in the boat to get there!

Humpback Whale Tail of Pender Island, BC

3. Princess Margaret (Portland) Island

Our preferred spot on Portland Island is the Shell Beach campground.  All of the Campsites on Portland are first come first served, so if you can't get in to Shell Beach, there are two more options around the island; Arbutus Point and Princess Bay.

Boat moored at Shell Beach, Princess Margaret Portland Island BC

Getting There

Portland Island is only accessible on your own boat / kayak or by private marine charter. Shell Beach is about 5 nautical miles from the Sidney boat launch. 
Again there are no mooring facilities, but we just beached the boat.  There can be a fair bit of swell in the bay, mostly from the passing BC Ferries, so make sure you are anchored well or firmly beached.

The Campsites

There are 6 campsites at Shell Beach, 12 at Princess Bay and 6 at Arbutus Point.  There are pit toilets, picnic benches, and food caches, but no potable water.  There are better mooring facilities at the other campgrounds, but we preferred the location of Shell Beach.

Tent at Shell Beach campsite, Princess Margaret Portland Island

Why we love it

Shell Beach is a beautiful, quiet, spot with great views from each site, but it's relatively close to Sidney, so still pretty easy to get to.  From Portland you can easily nip over to Salt Spring Island for a day trip.  Last time we visited, we took some of our friends who free dive and they hand caught us a delicious collection of crabs, oysters and scallops which we cooked up on the beach; it doesn't get fresher than that!

Fresh crabs and oysters on at Shell Beach

4. Newcastle (Saysutshun) Island

Saysutshun Island, previously known as Newcastle Island is a BC Provincial Park just off Nanaimo.

View from Newcastle Saysutshun Island Campsite

Getting There

Saysutshun is another easily accessible Gulf Island, it's only about 1.5 nautical miles from the Brechin Boat Ramp in Nanaimo, and almost the whole trip is down the sheltered channel between Nanaimo and Saysutshun.  There is a small boat pontoon and mooring buoys in the bay.  From there it's a 5-15 minute walk to the campsites, depending which site you choose.  There are wheelbarrows available to help with your kit.  At high tide you can also get through the channel between Newcastle and Protection Islands (if you have a shallow enough draught!), and get closer to the more peaceful campsites at the far end of the campground.

There is also a foot passenger ferry service every half hour from Maffeo Sutton Park in Nanaimo. 

The Campsites

There are 18 individual campsites and 5 large group campsites.  There are pit toilets, and some flush toilets, food caches, covered BBQ / picnic areas, a small shop and even hot showers!  Reservations are through the BC Parks Camping website.

Newcastle Island Campsite

Why we love it

Saysutshun is easy access to from Nanaimo so can be fairly busy during the day, but feels completely different once the last ferry has gone.  It's a short trip from here to the stunning curved sandstone cliffs of Malaspina Galleries on Gabriola Island, or you can even nip into Nanaimo Harbour if you fancy it.  Neighbouring Protection Island is home to a floating bar and restaurant called the Dinghy Dock Pub, it's great fun to boat over there for lunch and a cold beer!

Stryker boat at Dinghy Dock Pub

5. Discovery Island

Discovery Island Marine Park, just off Oak Bay, is managed by BC Provincial Parks.  Half of the island makes up the park, with the other half being a First Nations Reserve.

Migratory geese over Discovery Island

Getting There

Discovery Island is easily accessed from the Cattle Point Boat Launch in Oak Bay.  It's about a 2.5 nautical mile trip each way, but is relatively sheltered by the islands which make up the Oak Bay Islands Ecological Reserve. 

The Campsites  

There's just one camping area on Discovery, and no marked pitches, it's basically open field camping within the designated area, so you are free to choose your pitch.  There are pit toilets and food caches, but no potable water.  Camping is first come first serve, but you can purchase your permit in advance through BC Parks.

Discovery Island Campsite

Why we love it

Discovery Island was the first place we boat camped, so holds a special place in our hearts.  When we camped there last, we were the only visitors and had the whole island to ourselves, admittedly it was only March and dropped to almost freezing over night!  Discovery Island is easy to access from Oak Bay, and the freestyle camping field means you can choose where you want to camp, having a view of the ocean from the tent door is really special.

Stryker boat at Discovery Island

Top Tips for the Gulf Islands

  • The weather can change quickly, check the forecast and be prepared for all eventualities.
  • Make sure you have the necessary safety and navigation equipment onboard.
  • Take a good supply of freshwater.
  • File a trip plan with a friend or relative.
  • Practice leave no trace principles, pack out what you pack in.
  • Keep a good look out for whales!

Backcountry Camping Gear

Check out the Gear Page for more details on the gear we use and recommend for backcountry camping, including our Stryker inflatable boat.

Other Gulf Islands

While you are here check out our posts on GalianoPender and Denman and Hornby.

Friday 10 February 2023

Ski Trip Packing List

We're heading off to Whistler shortly for Struan's birthday; what else would a soon to be 9 year old want to do for their birthday!

I've just been gathering all of our ski gear together for the trip, and packing it all up, so thought now would be a good time to put together a packing list.  Nothing worse than getting to the ski hill or resort and realising you've left something essential behind.

What do I Need to Pack?

Ski Gear Packing LayoutKids Ski Gear Packing Layout

Ski Equipment

Lift Pass!

Skis *

Ski Boots * - be sure to get well fitted boots, they won't feel comfortable as such but shouldn't hurt, as the boys say they are 'ski boot comfy'. Badly fitted boots won't only ruin your day they can cause injury so spend time with your shop or hire store to be sure you have the right fit. We have also had Struan's boots heat fitted as his feet have grown and slightly changed size, but not enough for a new pair of boots so if your older boots start to pinch it is definitely worth doing. It didn't even cost us anything!

Poles *

If you are travelling by air, or new to skiing you may want to rent this equipment at the resort.

Helmet - many resorts now (quite rightly) insist on helmets for kids, but with Sarah and I having a couple of accidents over the years, I think you'd be mad not to wear a properly fitting ski helmet.  The picture below was taken shortly after an accident while wearing a helmet, it could have been so much worse without one.

Black eye ski injury

Goggles - a well fitted pair of goggles makes a huge difference, skiing blind is not fun! Sarah struggles with goggles and opted for a helmet with a built-in visor but this proved problematic in very rainy or snowy conditions when the inside got wet. We are yet to hit on the ideal goggles for Sarah but if we find that elusive beast we will be sure to let you know!

Backpack - not essential, but really handy for carrying extra layers, snacks for the kids, water etc.  I'd recommend a waterproof bag if possible - we really like our Seal Line Skylake Dry Backpack (and not just for skiing).

Ski Clothing

Ski socks - a decent pair of ski socks won't wrinkle up in your boots, and will keep your feet warm and comfortable.  Avoid cotton!

Base layers - thermal base layers are one of the most important items of ski clothing.  We're massive fans of merino wool for base layers; they're warm, comfortable, and naturally odour resistant!  Icebreaker make a great range of thermals in various weights, and I'm a massive fan of my new BN3TH full length merino bottoms. (Use the link above for $15 off your first purchase.)

Mid layer - depending on where and when you are skiing, and the weather on the day, you may need more or less mid-layers.  Quite often Innes and I don't bother with a mid layer, but Struan and Sarah almost always do.  An extra thermal, fleece or hoodie, will work just fine.  Like most outdoor activities, layering is key; so that you can add or remove layers as necessary.  This is where that backpack comes in handy!

Outer Layers - Ski pants (trousers) / Salopettes / Bibs and a Ski Jacket; waterproof and breathable are the keys here.  Outer layers designed for skiing also tend to be insulated for extra warmth.  We're big Spyder fans, and although they're pretty pricey, they are really well made and long lasting.  Their kid's range even has a 'grow with me' feature, which allows the cuffs and hems to be dropped as the kids grow.

Neck Warmer / Scarf / Buff - these contribute a lot more to keeping you warm than you would think; keeping the cold air from getting down your neck and also stopping snow from entering your jacket if you do take a head plant!  We tend to use thinner Buffs on most days (which you can use in loads of different ways) and a thicker balaclava type when it's really cold.

Gloves - I recommend two pairs of gloves, a thin inner pair for warmth and a waterproof outerlayer.


There a few other bits and bobs that aren't essential, but can make life easier (or more fun), so we think they're worth adding to your ski trip packing list.

RUX - we love our RUXs, they're perfect for carrying all of this kit!

Go Pro - if you don't have video for your favourite social site did your ski trip even happen?

Radios - we find our Rocky Talkies to be invaluable for keeping in touch on the mountain without digging around in your pockets for your phone.  We generally give one to Struan, so when he bombs off without us we can find him again!

Re-usable Water Bottle - we're all about reducing unnecessary plastic waste and if you've read any of our other posts, you'll know it has to be Yeti!

Flask - the boys love a hot chocolate to warm up, but often they come in giant servings, pop any left overs in the Yeti for later!  Also handy for your morning coffee fix while waiting in the ski lift queue.

Toe / Hand Warmers - sometimes these are necessary, especially if you are 'skiing the East', like we used to when we lived in Ottawa.

Carry Straps - the boys got these straps for Christmas from Sarah's cousin, you wouldn't believe the number of arguments they have saved about the boys carrying their own skis.  Highly recommended, in fact i'm not sure why we don't have them too!

Kids with Sklon ski carry straps

GoggleSoc - ski goggles can be expensive, protect your lenses from scratches with these great covers made from recycled bottles.  They also look cool.

Apres Ski

Canadian ski resorts are pretty relaxed, so you don't need much in the way of special clothing, you may just stay in your ski gear!  There are a few items worth adding to the list though.

Snow Boots - you probably won't want to wear your ski boots all day, so a warm pair of boots are great for heading down to the local bar or restaurant.

Toque (Hat) - a warm hat is handy for the evenings, although you can just re-purpose your Buff.

Sun Glasses (and Sunny Soc) - if you're partaking in some lunchtime or early afternoon apres, you may not want to wear your googles, but it can be bright on those patios!

Swim shorts / suit - if you're lucky enough to have a pool or hot tub for some apres ski relaxing.

Printable Ski Trip Packing List

If you'd like to print off the packing list, you can download a copy here.

Thursday 2 February 2023

Whitehorse and Dawson City, YT

We're very excited to have just started planning a trip to the Yukon and Northwest Territories, after all it is February so time to start planning Summer adventures.  All this planning reminded me that we hadn't written up our trip to the Yukon in March 2022, so here goes!

(By the way, talking about planning for Summer adventures; BC Parks are now taking camping reservations four months out, which means you can now book out to the start of June.  If you need some suggestions of parks on Vancouver Island and the surrounding Gulf Islands check out our previous post.)

While most Canadians were travelling off to warmer climates for a break from the winter weather, us crazy Brits decided to spend March break in the Yukon, and it was amazing!

Yukon, previously known as Yukon Territory and more commonly known as 'the' Yukon, is the most westerly of the three Canadian territories and is also the smallest.

Getting There

We flew into the territorial capital, Whitehorse, from Victoria with Air North.  They fly a triangle route between Victoria, Vancouver and Whitehorse, briefly stopping in Vancouver on the way north.  Air North is a great small airline, with friendly staff, great customer service, and the best warm cookies on the flight!

Things to Do in Whitehorse

You really need a vehicle to get around the Yukon, so we picked up a rental at the airport and headed into Whitehorse for a night in the Best Western Gold Rush Inn.  The hotel was centrally located downtown, and let us explore the city and get our first close up view of the frozen solid Yukon River. 

Frozen Yukon River, Whitehorse

We had a great meal in the Miner's Daughter restaurant, which is attached to a lively bar known as the Dirty Northern. 

 The Woodcutter's Blanket is a cool micro brewery / bar / restaurant which is also worth a visit.

The next day, after a quick detour to Yukon Brewing for some essential supplies (beer, gin, and what has turned out to be Sarah's most worn hoodie!), we picked up some groceries and headed up to Sky High Wilderness Ranch.  

This adventure tourism business has been in operation for over 40 years, and was one of the highlights of our trip.  The ranch is only about 15 minutes drive from Whitehorse, but feels like it is in the middle of nowhere, and has amazing views over Fish Lake.  We spent three nights in the Aurora Cabin.  

The cabin sits alone on the ranch away from other guests so is very private and looks right down the length of the lake.  It is off-grid, so no electricity or running water, but the ranch provides plenty of fresh water in drums which you can heat on the woodstove and it has gas lights.  Bring a charging block if you need to charge up your devices, or just embrace the lack of connectivity.  Obviously there is no fridge or freezer, but they do provide a cooler which you can leave out on the deck to keep your food fresh, and icicles seemed like an appropriate addition to the Yukon Gin and tonic!  

The cabin has its own private wood fired sauna, with a huge picture window sharing the same panoramic views of the lake.  Unfortunately we didn't catch the elusive Aurora Borealis during our trip!  There is also a shower cubicle out in the sauna, and they provide a solar shower bag which you can hang in the sauna to warm up or fill from the pot on the woodstove in the cabin, so despite being off-grid you can still have a nice warm shower.

Dog Sledding in the Yukon

On our second day at the cabin we finally achieved one of our Canadian bucket list items with a dog-sledding trip.  One of the owners of Sky High is a veteran of the infamous Yukon Quest sledding race, and they have a great collection of friendly dogs who are clearly well looked after, some of the retired dogs may even come and visit you at the cabin!  

We did the 'Husky Rush' trip, which included some time meeting the dogs and learning about their care, before heading out onto Fish Lake for the sled trip.  Racing across the frozen lake is a surprisingly peaceful experience, the dogs really calm down when they are pulling, so all you hear is the swoosh of the sled rails over the snow and the occasional command from the experienced guide.  After the sled trip, we fed the dogs and headed up to the fire pit for hot chocolate, delicious local 'smokies'  (sort of like hotdogs but made from bison), s'mores, and a talk about the history of mushing.  It was a great experience and is highly recommended.

Yukon Wildlife Preserve

The next day we took a trip out to Yukon Wildlife Preserve.  The preserve has 12 Yukon species, including Bison, Musk Ox, Elk and Lynx, in over 350 acres of natural habitats, and is only a 30 minute drive from Whitehorse on Takhini Hot Springs Road (sadly the Hot Springs were closed for renovations while we were there).  

Yukon Wildlife Preserve

Yukon Wildlife Preserve

Yukon Wildlife Preserve

You can take a guided tour of the park in a minibus or walk around the 5km loop on foot, but the best way is definitely on the kick sleds if you are there in winter.

The Klondike Highway

Dragging ourselves away from Sky High was a challenge, but we had more of the Yukon to explore.  The following day we set off on the next leg of our trip, driving the 6 hours or so along the Klondike Highway 530km north to Dawson City.  The Klondike Highway is paved and was well maintained with only a few patches of ice/snow on the route.  It's worth stopping at Braeburn Lodge to pick up one of their famous (and ginormous) cinnamon buns; the lodge is also a checkpoint on the Yukon Quest.  

About 20kms north of Carmacks is the Five Finger Rapids viewpoint.  The rapids are mentioned in Jack London's 'Call of the Wild' and were one of the most dangerous sections of the Yukon River journey undertaken by gold prospectors during the Klondike Rush.  There are a series of steps down to the river, but these were not accessible in winter.

Things to Do in Dawson City

Arriving in Dawson is like arriving on the set of a Western movie; it looks and feels like a film set, until you realise that the buildings are real and still in active use as hotels, bars, shops, restaurants, and homes.
We stayed at the Downtown Hotel (which appears to have been taken over by Coast Hotels since we stayed).  The Downtown is famous as the home of the Sourtoe cocktail, which is served with a preserved human toe.  Unfortunately the hotel bar didn't allow children, so we missed out on that cultural experience!  In fact finding places that did allow children was pretty difficult in Dawson in the winter, but I'm sure would be better in the main tourist season. The Eldorado Hotel did allow kids, and we had a couple of nice meals in their Bonanza Dining Room. Bonton and Co was a really cool cafe/bar/eatery, with great small plates and charcuterie, which was also kid friendly.

While in Dawson you must take a drive (or hike if you're feeling fit) up to the Midnight Dome.  People have been gathering on this hilltop overlooking Dawson City to watch the midnight sun for hundreds of years.  Dome Road winds its way up the hill to almost the very top of the 887m hill, so it's a popular view point.

If you are lucky enough to be here at the right time, you can also cross the mighty Yukon river from Dawson City to West Dawson over the ice bridge, which is a cool experience.  There's not much in West Dawson, apart from a few off-grid cabins and a campsite, but it is the start of the Top of the World Highway which continues on to Alaska.  The George Black ferry runs a similar route once 'break-up' is over.

It's also worth a trip out to Dredge No4; a well preserved example of the mining dredges which used to ply the Yukon River in search of gold.  It was closed when we visited, so we couldn't get onboard, but was still worth the short drive up the mining road.

Dredge No4 in winter

Dawson City is also home to Robert Service and Jack London's cabins, and both are worth a visit.  Robert Service was a British immigrant to Canada; a banker by trade, he spent large periods of his life travelling Canada writing poetry and became known as the 'Bard of the Yukon' because of his poems inspired by the Klondike Goldrush.  The American author Jack London actually lived about 120kms south of Dawson, but his cabin was reconstructed here using some of the original timbers.

After two nights in Dawson, which felt like enough in the off season, we headed back down the Klondike Highway to Whitehorse.  

Our final night in the Yukon was spent in the Moose Cabin at Caribou RV Park, a cozy cabin which makes a great last stop due its proximity to the airport.  They also provide a lovely hamper of Yukon goods, on request, which we actually picked up early and took up to Sky High.

The Spell of the Yukon

We were definitely taken in by the 'Spell of the Yukon', and can't wait to go back this summer.

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!