Port Alberni is the outdoor adventure hub of Vancouver Island and draws thrill-seeking visitors from across the globe. Port Alberni’s natural playground includes its land, lakes, and sky, and even the most daring individuals can find ways to push their limits.
To find out more about the exciting outdoor adventures that await, we had a chat with Alicia Puusepp. She’s the Communications Manager for the City of Port Alberni and has the inside scoop on the best local destinations.
Here are five top ways to get your adventure on in, above and around Port Alberni:
1. Ride ATVs in the Nahmint Valley Back Country
West Coast Edge welcomes ATV enthusiasts, including first-time riders, into an adventurous unknown. Guides lead guests off the beaten path and through the wild wilderness to share spectacular, secluded landscapes of the Nahmint Valley.
These unique half- and full-day sightseeing tours put visitors behind the wheel as they explore old growth and regenerating forests, rich with natural wildlife. After a couple of hours of exploring the valley on ATV, guests can cool off beneath rushing waterfalls in freshwater pools.
“There is pure magic around every turn with West Coast Edge. You can explore the rugged west coast rainforest, take in sweeping views of the valley and observe wildlife in its natural setting ,” said Alicia. “ You even have the opportunity to see and explore one of the Island’s most rare gems, Virgin Falls. .”
West Coast Edge Visitors can enhance their experience by staying at Thunderbird House, a 6-bedroom lakefront cottage on Henderson Lake, in the heart of Uchucklesaht Tribe land. Thunderbird House allows guests to customize their experience and is the perfect base for fishing, kayaking, and bonfires on the beach.
2. Soar Through the Skies In A Sailplane
Adventures with the Vancouver Island Soaring Center begin 2000 feet above the ground. Guests are towed in a two-person, PW-6 sailplane into the skies and then released, allowing the sailplane to casually descent back towards the ground. There’s one spot for you, and one spot for your professional pilot.
Sailplanes are powered by nothing more than thermal energy and provide a view of the Valley that most people will never be fortunate enough to see.
“You get into one of the gliders and towed up into the air, and then the tow-plane drops you off,” said Alicia. “It’s an incredible, silent experience where you get to take in the whole of the Alberni Valley. If you have a clear day, it feels like you can see to the ends of the earth.”
For 15 minutes, guests soar through the sky like an eagle, taking in the magnificent landscapes below. It’s an experience worthy of every bucket list but consider yourself forewarned: you’ll want to do it again and again.
3. Make A Big Splash at Sproat Lake
Sproat Lake is the perfect Vancouver Island destination for fast-paced water sports. The water is warm, the surroundings are stunning, and there are no boat limitations. Waterskiing, wakeboarding, wakesurfing, and tubing are all welcome pastimes that lure visitors to Sproat Lake every year.
“Sproat Lake has over 300 kilometres of lakefront and roughly 27 kilometres of lake,” said Alicia. “It’s like a tropical paradise. It rivals the Shuswap Lake for warmth and the water is jade green. Because of its size you can always find a secluded spot and make it your private paradise for the day. ”
Boatless visitors itching to get on the water can rent houseboats and speedboats from Fish and Duck Houseboats, complete with the gear you need to ski, wakeboard or tube.
The lake is also the home of the Martin Mars water bombers, which were originally built for World War
- These gentle giants rest on the Faber Finger of Sproat Lake, ready to delight passersby.
The Sproat Lake Provincial Park campground helps guests enhance their lakeside experience with hiking, cycling, and wildlife viewing, and includes flush toilets and showers. Guests who prefer a more upscale accommodation can check into the Sproat Lake Landing Resort or rent one of many private cabins.
4. Float Down the Rapids at Stamp River
Stamp River is a hot spot for river tubing from July through August when the sun is shining and the water flows just right. Locals and visitors launch their tubes into the steadily flowing water and spend the next few hours drifting down beautiful Stamp River.
The typical Stamp River float begins at the Alberni Fish and Game Club on Sportsman Road, where tubers should check-in when they drop off their car and ends at Paper Mill Dam Park. Visitors are welcome to start and stop anywhere between these two points, but fast flows and other hazards make it dangerous to deviate from this route. Be aware of the surroundings, float responsibly, carry a bio-degradable sunscreen, pack out what you take in and you’re guaranteed to have fun!
5. Zip Through A River Canyon in Ancient Rainforests
Adventurers young and old will get a thrill ziplining through the river canyon of Ha’uukim Tribal Park, on the traditional lands of the Tla-o-qui-aht people. West Coast Wild’s zip tour consists of 6 expansive ziplines, ranging from 200m to 400m in length, that take visitors through some of B.C.’s most stunning scenery.
“What a way to be one with nature. You soar above rushing waters and sail by ancient giants that have stood guard for generations. This is one adventure you don’t want to miss,” said Alicia.
The short hike to the first zip line includes a quick nature tour, where guides share information about the surrounding ecosystem and local First Nations culture. Then, zipliners take to the skies!
West Coast Wild’s harnesses are designed to give guests a true 360 view of their surroundings and brave guests are welcome to twirl, flip, and perform aerial tricks to their heart’s content. Of course, sitting back and simply soaking in the serene surroundings is another fantastic way to zip.
The ziplines are less than an hour from Port Alberni and make the perfect rest stop on the way to or from Tofino.
For even more information and inspiration, visit the Alberni Valley Tourism website.