When researching things to do in Tofino, we stumbled upon the small town of Ucluelet. While less sandy beaches, it still offers great ocean views and is made famous by the stunning Ucluelet Wild Pacific Trail. We spent an afternoon exploring the majority of the trail and would highly recommend making this hike a priority when visiting the area.
We were there in mid-October and lucked out with amazing sunny weather. It actually got so warm that we ditched most of our jackets and layers. However, we’d suggest preparing for a range of weather with a likelihood of rain.
About the Ucluelet Wild Pacific Trail
Ucluelet is about 45 minutes south of Tofino on the western coast of Vancouver Island. It is a less expensive, less crowded, and more rugged version of the touristy town of Tofino. While the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve between Tofino and Ucluelet has multiple trails, beaches, and sights, we much prefer the rugged views (and free access) of the Wild Pacific Trail.
The trail is 8 km (about 5 miles) one way and can be split up into different portions. Just be aware that you will have to plan for your return hike as well since only one portion is a loop. It is very up and down throughout the majority of the trail, so it does take a decent amount of effort. We walked most of it in one go and were pretty exhausted after!
Highlights of the Trail
We pulled off on the side of the road to start the trail at the Ancient Cedars and walked north along the Rocky Bluffs portion of the trail to the very end of the Wild Pacific Trail. We then continued on the trail south to the Artists Loops almost to Brown’s Beach. After making our way back, we drove over to the other end of the trail to do part of the Lighthouse Loop.
- Rocky Bluffs: This was our favorite portion of the trail. There are tons of benches to sit at to take in the views and look for whales. It was absolutely beautiful and the trail was well cared for.
- Lookouts on Artists’ Loops Portion: We loved the little lookout points built into the trail along the Artists’ Loop portion. While this part had quite a bit of incline and decline in the trail, it was beautiful – especially on a sunny day!
- Lighthouse: The Lighthouse Loop portion of the Wild Pacific Trail is an easy stroll that highlights a lovely little lighthouse.
This map shows more details about each portion of the Wild Pacific Trail and the length of each.
Where We Chose to Stay in Ucluelet
We stayed at the Black Rock Beach Resort while in Ucluelet. We loved that it was within walking distance to Big Beach – a lovely sunset and tide pooling spot. It is also home to mystery shipwreck remains.
Although our room didn’t have a direct ocean view, the dining room and hot tub had ideal vantage points of the rough waves. Plus, our room was SO COZY – with a big bathtub, sitting area with fireplace, and kitchenette.
While in town, we mostly made our own sandwiches from grocery store staples, but we also fell in love with Yayu Cafe (closed over winter) for healthy, flavorful, and filling bowls. Highly suggest!
Ucluelet may not have quite as much happening as Tofino, but we suggest at least spending a day or two here. And if you are on a budget, it is a great alternative to base here for your Tofino explorations as well!