Ucluelet (or “Ukee” as the laidback locals affectionately call it) is perched on the tip of a peninsula southeast of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. This snug refuge from the wind and waves was valued for millennia by the local First Nations and, beginning in the 1870s, seal-pelt traders. Long known as a relaxed and rustic community, the town is evolving into a resort and adventure tourism destination in its own right.
Kayakers and boaters head for the nearby Broken Group Islands, surfers flock to the surrounding beaches and families can admire marine life at the Ucluelet Aquarium before dining on the catch of the day in local restaurants.
Don’t miss the extended and easily accessible Wild Pacific Trial, which undulates along Ucluelet’s rugged coastline for 9km. This spectacular hike is rated by TripAdvisor contributors as the top thing-to-do on Vancouver Island.
Ucluelet Through the eyes of the travellers
Things to do in Ucluelet
- For an intimate look at clams, crawlers and other marine life, visit the Ucluelet Aquarium, the world’s largest catch-and-release aquarium. Interactive (and educational) fun for the whole family.
- Follow the rugged Wild Pacific Trail (rated the #1 Thing To Do on Vancouver Island by TripAdvisor) for breathtaking vistas of the Broken Group Islands, Barkley Sound and Amphitrite Point.
- Wildlife-watching cruises depart from Ucluelet Harbour en route to Barkley Sound through the Broken Group Islands archipelago and surrounding area. Tour guides provide a running commentary about the region’s rich cultural and natural history as passengers snap images of humpback and grey whales, pods of orca, black bears, sea otters, sea lions, bald eagles and coastal birds.
- Thrill-seekers of all ages skim the treetops while ziplining at West Coast Wild under the direction of expert guides.
- The kayaking here is renowned the world over. Paddle the inner harbour or head for the Broken Group Islands. Informative guides are available when exploring the harbour’s nooks and crannies or embarking on longer trips into the magical seascape.
- Hire a guide for charter fishing trips out to the region’s best salmon, halibut and rock fish grounds.
- Each spring, 100,000 salmon are released from Thornton Creek Hatchery into local waterways. The adult fish return to the creek in the fall to spawn. The new interpretive and viewing centre provides information on salmon enhancement projects, hatchery operations, and the life cycle of salmon. Its picture windows offer great views of bears as they feast during the spawning season.
- Surf shops offer board rentals and lessons in longboard surfing and SUP (Stand-Up Paddle) boarding. The sandy beach breaks create waves perfect for all skill levels at Wickaninnish Beach and Long Beach.
- Discover local cultural and natural history at the Kwisitis Visitor Centre in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
- Get cozy in one of numerous accommodation options during a winter storm-watching season marked by thundering surf, foaming white spray, extreme winds that gust up to 100 knots, and sea swells that send massive waves crashing against the shoreline.
- Relax and pamper yourself at an exclusive spa or in an ocean-view lounge. Browse art galleries, unique gift shops and learn about Ucluelet’s interesting history and the rich culture of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation. Dining options range from traditional dishes to fine dining.
- Annual calendar highlights include the Pacific Rim Whale Festival in March (celebrating the annual migration of the gray whale), the Edge to Edge Marathon in June (with full, half and relay races that incorporate the Wild Pacific Trail) and the Ukee Days Festival in July (highlighted by a parade, music festival and fairground attractions).