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Tofino, BC – A Bucket List Trip

When planning a trip to a place as unique as Tofino on Vancouver Island’s Pacific Rim, be prepared to get busy and enjoy everything it has to offer. With only 4 days and 7 of us in our group, we had a jam packed but amazing visit. Relive our stay in one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever see.

Tonquin Beach, Pacific Rim

Day 1 – Travel and Arrival

After a scenic ferry ride from the Vancouver mainland we took a pit stop in Nanaimo, then hit the road for the 3.5-hour trek to Tofino. If you haven’t done the drive before, the beaches of Parksville, goats on the roof at Coombs, Cameron Lake and Cathedral Grove are all worth while stops along the way. Our first stop in the Tofino area however was Long Beach. And they weren’t kidding – it’s huge! The tide was out, the breeze was blowing and all we could think about was flying kites. The kids could run while we took in the view, felt the sand between our toes and then dipped those toes in the Pacific Ocean. Ahhhhh… any stress washes away and you can’t help but feel inspired with the beauty.

Flying Kites at Long Beach

We carried on to check-in at our campsite, Crystal
Cove Beach Resort
. It was a top-notch resort and campground with everything you could need to make you feel at home. Check out their website to see for yourself!  We also had firewood delivered to our site each day and we were permitted to have fires on the beach.

An Amazing Sunset | Photo: Rooted by Love Photography

Crystal Cove connects right on to MacKenzie beach, which is a premiere location for taking in a sunset. You feel as if you’re on the edge of the earth as the sun sinks below the horizon. This became our nightly routine.

Day 2 – Divide and Conquer

The boys were out early to the dock for a chartered salmon fishing excursion. An experience like none-other, they caught Chinook and Coho and created memories that our 7-year-old son will remember for a lifetime.

Salmon Fishing in the Pacific Ocean

The girls explored the downtown shopping and walked to the Tonquin Beach trailhead. This well-maintained, easy trail took us down to a secluded beach. The tide was out just enough to spot a bright orange starfish and of course draw pictures in the sand.

Once the group was back together, we knew we wanted to visit the Eagle Aerie Gallery of local artist (and our friend!) Roy Henry Vickers.

Roy Henry Vickers’ Eagle Aerie Gallery

Our day capped off with sunset family photos at Middle Beach with local photographer Danielle of Rooted By Love Photography.

Day 3 – Touch Pools and Surfs Up!

We had heard such great things about the Ucluelet Aquarium so off we went! Did you know everything in the aquarium is from the local bays and is Canada’s first catch and release aquarium? Lucky for us, one of the knowledgeable staff offered to guide us through all the touch tanks and tell us about each of the amazing creatures – very cool! 

Ucluelet Aquarium

Now for my absolute highlight of our Tofino adventure… surfing lessons! We arranged a private lesson for 5 of us (3 adults and 2 kids) through Tofino Surf School at Cox Bay. After an intro and some dry land training we hit the waves. I have to say, wetsuits are an amazing thing. Not only do you not feel cold at all, but they are extremely buoyant. Surfing is hard, but it is so much fun. There is a reason Tofino is known around the world as a surf town and it’s certainly worth taking the plunge to give it a go.

Day 4 – The Final Countdown

We were pulling out that afternoon but still had some attractions to cross off our list. We’re a golfing family, so our first stop was the Long Beach Golf Course for a quick round of mini golf. Every one of us managed to rack up a hole in one! To celebrate, we had lunch at the famous Tacofino food truck followed by ice cream at Chocolate Tofino.

Chocolate Tofino

A true hidden gem is the Naa’Waya’Sum Gardens (formerly the Tofino Botanical Gardens) and a perfect final stop to walk off lunch. We spent way longer here than we anticipated and thoroughly enjoyed the walk through the rain forest and along the shoreline. The kids especially loved the Children’s Garden where “adults must be supervised”.

Tofino Botanical Gardens

This was a bucket list trip for me and it did not disappoint! The area is so beautiful and unique, it’s no wonder that people travel from around the world to visit this tiny surf town.

If this area interest you, check out our drive:
From Coast to Coast on Vancouver Island: Vancouver to Tofino

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For more campgrounds in Tofino and other areas of British Columbia check out the Camping Map.

Share your BC travel and camping photos using hashtag #campinbc.

The Chilliwack River Valley: An Outdoor Enthusiast’s Paradise

Chilliwack River Valley - Ken Bramble

Chilliwack River Valley – Ken Bramble

About one and a half hours east from Vancouver International Airport is one of the Lower Mainland’s best kept secrets, one which is an outdoor adventurers’ dream. Want world class fishing for steelhead trout and a variety of salmon? Got it. Rapids ranging from class 2 to 5 for the whitewater rafting rookie or experienced kayaking enthusiast? Check. A range of hikes from family-friendly afternoon jaunts to technically challenging overnighters? Affirmative. Camping destinations for relaxed RVers, summer long-weekend tenters, and backcountry machete-wielders? Absolutely. When it comes to outdoor destinations, the Chilliwack River Valley has it all. But don’t tell anyone…the locals are trying hard to keep it a secret!

Fishing near Vedder River campground

Fishing Near Vedder River Campground

With its origins in the mountains of Washington State’s North Cascades National Park, the Chilliwack River makes its way north into Canada and eventually the Chilliwack Lake. From the lake’s northern end, the river snakes mostly west for many kilometers before it meets up with the Sweltzer River and then the Sumas River before flowing into the mighty Fraser River. On a technical note, shortly after joining forces with the Sweltzer, the Chilliwack passes under the Vedder Bridge and its’ name changes to the Vedder River.

Regardless of its name, the Chilliwack/Vedder River is well known to anglers from around the Lower Mainland, the province, and even internationally. A veritable rainbow of salmon species – coho, chum, pink, white chinook, and sockeye can be caught here between the months of July and early December. The river is also home to various types of trout, including rainbow, coastal cutthroat, and steelhead, which is renowned as one of the most difficult-to-catch freshwater sportfish. Those hungry for the challenge of steelhead can put their angling skills to the test between January and April or July to early September. Be sure to obtain a proper license for the type of fish you’re hoping to hook! If you are going to camp in the area too there are a good selection of private campgrounds, provincial parks and recreation sites. More information at Where to Camp.

Chilliwack River Fishing

Fishing on Chilliwack River

If the idea of landing a 30-lb chinook salmon doesn’t thrill you, perhaps racing down the Chilliwack River in a raft or kayak would be enough to take your breath away. Local companies offer a range of trips for anyone from the rafting rookie to the whitewater junkie (from class 2 to 4+ on the whitewater scale). Perhaps you’d rather challenge the river on your own – try kayaking. There are appropriate sections for newbies, while experienced kayakers can test their skills at the famous Tamihi Rapids, Canada’s only class 5 training course and a common site for the training of our national Olympic kayaking team. By the way, the official whitewater classification system maxes out at Class 6, which is the type of water you don’t want to even attempt to navigate in a floating object (i.e. Hell’s Gate).

Camping at Lindeman Lake

Camping at Lindeman Lake

For those who feel more comfortable on “terra firma”, the Chilliwack River Valley still has plenty to offer.  Easier, flat walks can be found west of the Vedder Bridge at the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve (several hikes ranging up to 5 km return) or the Vedder River Trails (the Vedder Rotary Trail is 8 km one way).  At the east end of the valley from Vedder Bridge is access to more moderate hikes.  The Lindeman Lake Hike is a well maintained trail that winds through forest for 3.4 km (return) with a modest 215m elevation gain before terminating at a peaceful alpine lake where wooden camping platforms are available for those who want to stay overnight.  The longer-winded among us may want to carry on a further 3.5 km and gain another 150m in elevation to visit Greendrop Lake.

View from Mt MacFarlane Summit

View from Mt MacFarlane Summit

Meanwhile, the hardier, more adventurous trekker can put their legs and lungs to the test on the way up Mount MacFarlane.  This trail will have you climbing 2,016 m over the course of 17 km out and back, but the inspiring scenery includes massive Douglas Firs, a couple of pristine lakes, and a summit with a panoramic view of snow-capped peaks that is incomparable.

Once you’ve conquered Mount MacFarlane, there are many other challenging hikes and illustrious summits to reach in the Chilliwack River Valley area. Did I mention there’s a lot to do here? If you love the outdoors, this is a place you must visit. But be careful…you might just decide you never want to leave!

For information on camping and RVing in British Columbia go to https://www.campingrvbc.com/

3 Spring Fishing Spots in BC

Man Fishing beside his trailer parked at beach

Fishing at Muncho Lake. Photo: Destination BC/Albert Normandin

Spring is here and no more alarm clocks! Instead I am awakened each day to the discordant symphony of birds outside my window.  It is an invigorating sign that warm weather is coming and an opportunity to go away on the Easter long weekend. The start of spring camping! Yahoo…I love being in the outdoors! When I return back to work after spending a weekend in nature, I am completely re-energized and ready to go. However, B.C.’s unpredictable weather causes my husband not to feel the same way.  A sure way to convince him to go in the shoulder season is to incorporate an activity that he is passionate about, one being fishing. Here are some spring fishing spots I found with nearby campgrounds. Wish me luck! (more…)

Published: April 11th, 2014

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