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Ucluelet: An Ocean-Lover's Haven

Let the salt air set you free with a visit to Ucluelet, a charming coastal town on Vancouver Island’s West Coast. Hemmed in by endless stretches of wild shoreline and fringed by temperate rainforest, Ucluelet sets the stage for an ocean-lover’s getaway filled with aquatic activities, coastal exploration, and great dining.

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Ucluelet, with its dramatic coastal backdrop, cedar-tinged ocean air, and laid-back vibes is one of my favorite places in all of BC. The tiny community has a very down-to-earth atmosphere, which is a contrast to its flashier neighbour down the road. I love how wild and untouched the coast is, and the food and drink scene is really fun to explore. If you love the ocean as much as I do, Ucluelet is definitely one seaside town you don’t want to miss.

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Amber Turnau is a freelance storyteller and outdoor adventurer. When she's not writing she spends her time snowboarding, hiking, biking, and SUPing the wilds of BC.

What you need to know

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Tofino will be recognized as one of North America’s premier year-round destinations.

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Who is it for

Solo Travellers

Families

Young professionals

Couples

When to visit

Fall

Winter

Time needed

48 hours

To enjoy the ocean`s atmosphere

72 hours


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What to bring

Paddleboard, surfboard, or kayak

Wetsuit, booties, gloves and hood

(4mm or higher)

GORE-TEX rain jacket and waterproof pants

Rain Boots

Warm layers

Hiking boots/shoes

Toque

Respect the ocean

Be Coast, Smart and learn about the hazards before you head into the ocean.

Distance to major centres

# km from Victoria

Travel times from Downtown Vancouver

# km from Victoria

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Ucluelet: An Ocean-Lover's Haven


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Take a Surf Lesson

As far as the West Coast’s cold water surf scene goes, Ucluelet may be slightly lesser known than its sister community Tofino, which is 30 minutes down the road. But, with a close proximity to consistent surf breaks and a growing list of surf shops popping up in town, Ucluelet makes for a cozy year-round surf haven. I remember when I first waded into the February surf, as the waves lapped at ice crystals on my surfboard—it was hard to imagine winter surfing being anything but bone chilling. However, to my surprise, I remained quite toasty for several hours, thanks to my 5mm wetsuit, 7mm booties, a neoprene hood and gloves. After catching waves for an hour or two, I ran to the car; a ribbon of ste

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Take a Surf Lesson

Check out Relic Surf Shop for all your board sport needs

relicsurfshop.com

Paddle Tranquil Waters

One of the things I love about Ucluelet is how the endless stretch of coastline gives way to hidden inlets, secret harbours, and tiny islands. This is truly a paddling paradise with plenty of ocean mysteries to uncover. The protected waters of Ucluelet Harbour are a welcome respite from the powerful weather that batters the outer coast, particularly during the fall and winter months. If you find yourself in between storms in Ucluelet, SUP or kayak the calmer waters of the inlet, gliding past old growth rainforest, small wrecks, and curious marine life along the way. Majestic Ocean Kayaking offers small group tours of Ucluelet Harbour (weather dependent), for those looking for a guided experience. T

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Paddle Tranquil Waters

Get the inside scoop on Ucluelet Harbour by taking a tour with Majestic Ocean Kayaking.

Hosted by Majestic Ocean Kayaking

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bike

Explore Local Marine Life

British Columbia’s West Coast is a rich ecosystem, abundant with wildlife. The protected waters in Clayoquot and Barkley Sound around Ucluelet are especially teeming with life. We spend so much of our time on land or on the surface of the ocean, and often forget what lies beneath. Visit the Ucluelet Aquarium, Canada’s first catch-and-release aquarium, to learn more about the fish and invertebrates who call Ucluelet waters home. You can view the animals up close and learn more about their habitat. You can view jewel-coloured anemones, vibrant sea stars, spiny urchins, and rare abalone, to name a few. Sponsor an animal and your connection to Ucluelet can extend well beyond your visit. Choose fro

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Explore Local Marine Life

Visit the Ucluelet Aquarium to learn more about the rich marine ecosystem and its inhabitants.

https://uclueletaquarium.org/

Enjoy a Pint Overlooking the Ocean

If you want to get a feel for this small seaside town, just swing by the local brewery. With a great selection of beer, comfort foods on the menu, and views of Ucluelet Harbour, the Ucluelet Brewing Co. is the perfect perch from which to watch the world go by. The craft brewery, which opened in Spring 2020, brews an impressive selection of beers, including IPA, pale ale, Kolsch, and stout. You’ll also find small-batch seasonals like Cranberry Kettle Sour for the fall or Grapefruit Gose for the summer. The menu features hearty favorites like mac ‘n cheese, albacore tuna melt, and grilled cheese.

Enjoy a Pint Overlooking the Ocean

Sample a wide selection of locally brewed craft beer at the Ucluelet Brewing Company.

https://uclueletbrewing.ca/

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bike

Savour West Coast Ingredients and Seafood

From food trucks to fine dining, you’ll discover plenty of ways to sample West Coast fare in this small oceanside community. Ucluelet’s burgeoning food scene is as eclectic as it is delicious. Chefs can pluck fresh, local ingredients from Vancouver Island farms, and select fresh seafood right off the dock. Take RAVENLADY Oyster Forte, for example, an upscale food truck that sits in the shadow of a magnificent metal sculpture garden. The marquee piece is a massive surfing siren known as “The Raven Lady.” I especially loved the delight of casually slurping fresh oysters by the half dozen in the outdoor setting. RAVENLADY is open seasonally, so check their website. Further down Peninsula Road, y

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Savour West Coast Ingredients and Seafood

Indulge in elevated West Coast fare

Hosted by RavenLady Oyster Forte

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

One of my favourite ways to experience the rugged beauty of Ucluelet is by taking a stroll along the breathtaking Wild Pacific Trail, which follows the contours of the outer coast. The eight-kilometre walking trail is painstakingly built along wave-worn cliffs and fringed by wind-bent trees, showcasing the distinct geography of the area and its wild, dense landscapes. Being in the presence of such beauty triggers all the senses: the scent of briny seaweed, the feel of ocean air on your skin, the faint taste of salt on the tongue, the colourful contrasts, and melancholic drone of the Whistle Buoy that sits offshore. Every so often, you’ll pop out at a viewpoint that’s been sculpted into the clif

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Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Stroll along Ucluelet’s Wild Pacific Trail to experience the raw, unfettered coastline.

https://www.wildpacifictrail.com/home.html

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bike

Watch Pacific Storm Rolls

Fall marks the arrival of storm season on the Pacific coast, when heavy winds and strong swells batter the coastline. Vancouver Island’s West Coast is particularly exposed, which makes Ucluelet the perfect place to bundle up and watch the storms (from a safe distance, of course). Optimal stormwatching time is between November and March. Listening to the assault of rain and wind from the comfort of a cozy cabin or rustic lodge is one thing, but being out in the energy of a storm is quite another. If you dare, don your rain gear (a.k.a. “west coast tuxedo’) and head out the Wild Pacific Trail or Wickaninnish Beach to watch the fury of the storm from a safe vantage point. Remember not to get too c

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Watch Pacific Storm Rolls

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