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Travel Advisories

Ucluelet Uncovered: Exploring the Town’s Hidden History

For those truly seeking immersion while visiting Ucluelet, BC on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, appreciating the area’s history is vital for a well-rounded experience. It tells a story that slowly builds on itself and makes every experience more colorful. Some stories only the oldest locals know, and on a good day, they might divulge. Arriving in Ucluelet, it’s easy to get caught up in the beauty of the impressive vistas. Yet, beyond what meets the eye, the town is steeped in unique narratives and a history as vibrant as its sunsets. Let’s explore some hidden histories you might accidentally overlook while visiting.

Ucluelet, home to approximately 2,500 year-round residents, sits on the traditional territory of the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ people, who have inhabited the area since time immemorial. The heart of the town nestles against an inlet, while the opposite side faces the expansive Pacific Ocean. Renowned hiking trails, such as the Wild Pacific Trail, trace the shoreline, where waves crash and dance with the black volcanic rock.

Springtime is a particularly captivating time in Ucluelet as the town (and surrounding forest) springs to life. One flowering shrub, abundantly found in Ucluelet and even on the trails around town, is the Rhododendron. These slow-growing plants can be found in towering size (attributed to their age) around Ucluelet, in thanks to the landscaping enthusiasm of George Fraser. In 1892, he purchased crown land where Ucluelet now sits. His passion for creating new plant strains, beautiful yet suited to the harsh winters, led to the proliferation of Rhododendrons, among other plants. These Rhododendrons in Ucluelet narrate the story of a passionate and determined gardener whose legacy enriches the town today.

Looking out towards the Lighthouse Loop on the Wild Pacific Trail on a calm and sunny day, one wouldn’t suspect that the same waters were once dubbed “The Graveyard of the Pacific.” During storm season, the waters off the coast of Ucluelet claimed many ships, most notably the “The Pass of Melfort,” which sank on December 26th, 1905. This 299 ft long and 44 ft wide vessel, carrying a crew of around 30, was headed to Puget Sound from Panama. The tragic loss of life spurred the construction of Amphitrite Lighthouse, which stands today as a beacon for ships navigating the treacherous waters. Evidence of another doomed shipwreck can be found at Big Beach, where the lower hull of a mystery shipwreck, circa 1896, rests among the trees and salal bushes.

Many buildings around Ucluelet have stood since the early 1900s, supporting a small yet ambitious town. Heartwood Kitchen, a beloved breakfast spot, was once Matterson House Restaurant, built by the Matterson Family in the 1920s (originally called Glendale Cottage). During WWII, when Ucluelet housed the Royal Canadian Air Force Seaplane Base, it served as the Officers’ Mess, where officers gathered and dined. Graffiti from pilots stationed in the area can still be seen in the garage on the property.

The West Coasters Re-use-it, a quirky and popular second-hand shop, currently occupies the space where Ruths Gift Shop once operated in the 1940s. Though the windows and door may have moved, the foundation remains strong.

What was once St. Aiden’s church, built by volunteers and community members and open to the public in 1952 is now the popular Ucluelet Brewery. Today, it remains a hub for community gatherings, welcoming families, visitors, and locals to enjoy its hilltop views and great fare.

 

For more information about the rich history of Ucluelet and a virtual tour through history, visit:

Ucluelet | On This Spot and Home

Ucluelet and Area Historical Society

The History Of Ucluelet | People of the Safe Harbour (discoverucluelet.com)

A fisherman’s dream lies within British Columbia’s west coast, where the rugged shores of Vancouver Island offer some of the most sought-after fishing experiences in the world. Along this pristine coastline, Ucluelet stands out as a premier destination for anglers seeking adventure in the Pacific Ocean. From thrilling salmon runs to bountiful halibut grounds, Ucluelet’s waters teem with marine life, promising unforgettable fishing expeditions. Whether you’re drawn to the challenge of reeling in a trophy Chinook or bounce your bait off the bottom for cod and halibut in the deep, Ucluelet’s diverse fishing opportunities cater to every angler’s passion. With its breathtaking scenery and abundant fisheries, Ucluelet embodies the essence of West Coast fishing at its finest.

Saltwater Fishing: Ucluelet is renowned for its saltwater fishing, particularly for salmon and halibut. Chinook (King), Coho (Silver), Sockeye, and Pink salmon can be found in these waters, with peak salmon fishing typically occurring from May to September. Halibut fishing is also excellent, with the season extending from March to October. Various charter companies operate in the area, offering guided fishing trips equipped with experienced captains and all necessary gear.

Freshwater Fishing: Ucluelet also offers opportunities for freshwater fishing. Nearby lakes and rivers provide habitats for trout and steelhead. The surrounding forests and pristine waters offer a serene backdrop for anglers seeking a quieter fishing experience.

Popular Fishing Spots: There are plenty of must-visit fishing spots in Ucluelet. Barkley Sound is best known for salmon and halibut, the Broken Group Islands for scenic angling, Florence Cove for accessible salmon fishing, Outside Lighthouse Bank for halibut, Big Bank for offshore salmon, and Little Beach for shore fishing. 

Regulations and Licensing: Anglers should familiarize themselves with British Columbia’s fishing regulations, including licensing requirements, catch limits, and seasonal restrictions. These regulations are in place to ensure sustainable fishing practices and the conservation of fish stocks.

Equipment and Gear: Appropriate gear is essential for fishing in saltwater or freshwater. Heavy-duty rods and reels capable of handling large salmon or halibut are necessary for saltwater fishing. In freshwater, lighter tackle suitable for trout or steelhead is appropriate. Local tackle shops can guide the best equipment for the area and target species.

Weather Considerations: Ucluelet’s coastal location means that weather conditions can change rapidly. It’s essential to check weather forecasts before heading out on the water and to dress appropriately for the conditions. Additionally, rough seas may impact fishing outings, so it’s wise to communicate with charter operators about any concerns.

Local Knowledge: Utilizing the expertise of local guides or experienced anglers can significantly enhance the fishing experience. Local knowledge of fishing hotspots, migration patterns, and techniques can increase the likelihood of a successful outing.

 

From fishing lodges to day trips, book your next fishing trip with one of Ucluelet’s local fishing charters: 

Kayaking in Ucluelet offers an incredible opportunity to explore the stunning coastal beauty of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Ucluelet is renowned for its rugged coastline, pristine waters, and abundant marine life, making it a popular destination for kayakers of all skill levels.

 

Here’s what you can expect when kayaking in Ucluelet.

Scenic Beauty: Ucluelet offers stunning scenery with rocky shorelines, secluded coves, and ancient forests. Paddling through its tranquil waters provides panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding landscapes. Start your kayaking journey in the calm waters of Ucluelet Harbour for leisurely paddling and wildlife observation. For a deeper exploration, head to the captivating Broken Group Islands, featuring over a hundred islets amidst breathtaking coastal vistas. Barkley Sound beckons experienced kayakers with its rugged coastline and sheltered waters, promising challenges and rewards.

Wildlife Viewing: The waters around Ucluelet are teeming with marine life. Watch for whales, sea lions, seals, otters, bald eagles, and various seabirds. Some lucky kayakers may even spot pods of orcas or majestic gray whales during their paddling adventures.

Island Exploration: Ucluelet is surrounded by numerous small islands and islets, each offering unique charm and exploration opportunities. Kayakers can paddle to these islands to discover hidden beaches, sea caves, and tidal pools.

Kayak Tours and Rentals: Several outfitters in Ucluelet offer guided kayak tours and equipment rentals for visitors. These tours are led by experienced guides who provide safety instructions and insights into the local ecology and history. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced kayaker, options are available to suit your preferences. Ucluelet kayak rental services are widely available for those who prefer to explore independently.

Weather Considerations: It’s essential to check the weather and tidal conditions before embarking on a kayaking excursion in Ucluelet. Coastal weather can be unpredictable, so be prepared for changing conditions and dress accordingly.

Safety Precautions: While kayaking is a relatively safe activity, it’s essential to prioritize safety on the water. Wear a properly fitting life jacket, stay within your skill level, and be aware of other watercraft in the area. Visit AdventureSmart to help you best prepare for your outdoor adventure.  

 

Overall, kayaking in Ucluelet offers an unforgettable outdoor experience, allowing visitors to connect with nature and explore the pristine beauty of Vancouver Island’s west coast. Whether seeking adventure, wildlife encounters, or a peaceful day on the water, Ucluelet has something to offer every kayaker.

Discover Kayak Tours in Ucluelet:

This spring, we invite you to experience the breathtaking beauty of our home. Ucluelet is more than just a picturesque backdrop for your adventures; it’s a vibrant community pulsating with the heartbeat of passionate locals who call this place home. From artists and artisans to fishermen and foragers, each resident contributes to the rich tapestry of life that defines Ucluelet.

Spring Activities

Lace up your hiking boots and wander along winding trails that lead to hidden waterfalls and panoramic viewpoints, or paddle silently through pristine waters as you explore the tranquil beauty of Barkley Sound. Whether you’re travelling with friends, family, or just the two of you, there’s something for everyone. The Ucluelet Aquarium, Canada’s first collect and release aquarium, reopens for the season on March 1st. Looking for something to up your heartbeat? Rent a bike from Ukee Bikes and ride the town in style, or get on the water with Relic Surf Shop or Paddle West Kayaking.

Grab a Bite & a Brew

As you meander through the quaint streets of town, you’ll find yourself drawn to charming boutiques and cozy cafes, where the scent of freshly brewed coffee mingles with the salty tang of the sea. Strike up a conversation with a friendly local, and you’ll uncover hidden gems and insider tips that only those who call Ucluelet home can share.

Discover west coast dining experiences in Ucluelet.

Upcoming Events

Each year, as the storms power dwindles and the sun stays high for longer, Ucluelet comes alive with the vibrant energy of the Pacific Rim Whale Festival, a celebration of the return of Pacific Gray Whales to the west coast of Vancouver Island. Against the backdrop of Ucluelet’s rugged coastline, locals and visitors alike gather to honor the annual migration of gray whales and marvel at their breathtaking displays. From captivating educational workshops and exhilarating whale-watching excursions to lively community events and art exhibitions, the festival offers a kaleidoscope of experiences that deepen our connection to the ocean and its inhabitants. It’s a time of joyous revelry and profound appreciation for the natural wonders that define Ucluelet’s identity, reminding us of the enduring bond between humankind and the sea.

Discover Springtime events in Ucluelet.

Stay With Us

To fully capture the spirit of Ucluelet, you’ll want to stay a few nights, a week, or longer. From classic cabins, luxury resorts, eco-yurts steps from the ocean, and family-friendly campgrounds, check out available accommodations in Ucluelet.

Looking for Accessible Travel Tips?

Check out our Accessible Travel Guide video:


As the sun dips below the horizon, casting hues of pink and gold across the sky, take a moment to pause and reflect on the wonders you’ve witnessed during your time in Ucluelet. Whether you’ve come to reconnect with nature, indulge in culinary delights, or simply escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Ucluelet welcomes you with open arms and invites you to embark on a journey of discovery unlike any other.

Ucluelet aquarium showcases undersea wonders

Ucluelet Aquarium

Kayaking off Vancouver Island

Kayaking off Vancouver Island

Local craft brewery at Ucluelet Brewing

Ucluelet Brewing

Stunning views at the Wild Pacific Trail

Wild Pacific Trail

Celebrate whales at the Pacific Rim Whale Festival

Credit: George Fifield

Pluvio Restaurant in Ucluelet

Pluvio Restaurant and Rooms. Credit: Jordyn Giesbrecht

Storm season in Ucluelet is upon us, and we could not be more excited. Ask any Ucluelet local and they can attest to the majesty of a winter storm on BC’s west coast. The energy and sounds of massive waves crashing on the rocky shoreline, winds that make the trees dance, while rains quench the soil and restore shades of green that must be seen to be believed. The energy is palpable while walking on the Wild Pacific Trail and undeniably humbling. These waves bring about a feeling of connection and awe with mother nature. If you have heard the buzz about storm watching in Tofino, wait until you see the massive waves hit the rocky coastline of Ucluelet.

Ucluelet’s soundtrack during the winter months offers the calming rumble of waves connecting with the coastline while being offset by the buoy bell and foghorn. These rhythmic sounds from your cozy accommodation will lull you to sleep by natures sound machine. Things move slowly this time of year and so can you. Winter in Ucluelet means leaning into rest, restoration, quietness, and togetherness. It is the time to pick up a neglected book, cook a meal with those you love or cuddle in and storm watch. Do as much or as little as you feel called to.

If you choose to venture out of your cozy nook, the towering trees on the Wild Pacific Trail offer some refuge on the rainier days and a safe vantage point to watch the winter storms, they huddle over you like natures canopy umbrella. Embracing the elements is always an option for those who wish to feel the mist on their faces and the energy move through ground into your feet as you watch these waves pound the rocky coastline. Or for the seasoned winter surfer, grab your board and catch a swell. On the calmer days, see if you can book a harbour tour in a kayak or boat.

If complete relaxation is what you seek, selfcare with a customized treatment in Drift Spa at the Black Rock Resort or Nurture Day Spa at Water’s Edge Shoreside Suites, will round out your restorative journey.

With a variety of accommodations available, the opportunities for rest and relaxation are endless. Maybe it’s a cottage with a hot tub, or a hotel room with a king size bed and space for your furry companions, start dreaming and choose to be here this Winter. Its your time to treat yourself and Ucluelet has all the tools to do so.

 

 

 

 

Solo person exploring the beach with a beautiful backdrop of forest and ocean in Ucluelet, BC.

Mike Seehagel

Person exploring the incredible tidepools on the rocky coastline in Ucluelet, BC

Landon Sveinson

Group of friends headed out to catch some winter swell at the famous Long Beach in the Pacific Rim National Park nearby to Ucluelet, BC.

Mike Seehagel

If you have been to Ucluelet in the Summer, you know what all the buzz is about. Its not too late to book an amazing accommodation or campsite, a day out on the water doing your favorite activity or stop in at an incredible restaurant or food truck. With the opening of Highway 4, the time is now!

Summer in Ucluelet is in full swing. The rainforest is alive with life, blooming flowers and berries beginning to grow. The soundtrack of the Summer is chirping birds, laughing children and soft waves hitting the shoreline. Businesses in town are open and ready to welcome you, with new cafes and shops to be explored.

For the adventure seeker, you can customize a summer getaway packed with action. Start your trip with a wildlife cruise, catching glimpses of hungry bears on the shoreline. Plan a day of fishing in our world class waters- a great way to enjoy a summer day while reeling in your catch. Book a nature tour or hiking trip and have a seasoned guide show you some remote and stunningly beautiful spots. For those who want to unplug and truly connect with nature, a multi-day kayaking trip to the Broken Group Islands is a once in a lifetime experience not to be missed.

For the max relaxers, the beach is calling! Sunny days mean its time to pack up the whole family, rent surf boards, wetsuits, book a lesson and post up for the day. After your day in the sun, there are a variety of restaurants and food trucks in town, so everyone can find something they love to eat. Before heading back to your accommodation, watch a jaw dropping sunset from the shoreline.

Ucluelet is the perfect place for a last-minute summer vacation. With current availability in town, it is the time to book your dream trip. We can’t wait to see you.

Thumbnail photo by Jeremy Koreski

Lillie Louise Major

Lillie Louise Major

Douglas Ludwig

Its a great time to support local! Many of our small businesses have been greatly impacted by the Cameron Lake Wildfires and are offering promotions and deals for those who want to shop/dine and stay local.

Majestic Sea Kayaking: Call 1.800.889.7644/250.726.2868 to book tours for locals at 50% off, all week.

Pluvio: Speakeasy, walk-ins only on June 16 & 17 from 8-9:30pm (cocktails, wine, small bites + good times.)

Pluvio: $100 off room rates until June 25th (with a $25, $50 or $100 restaurant gift certificate depending on length of stay).

The Cabins at Terrace Beach: $99/night on all cabins and lodge suites from June 14 to 24 for all people residing west of the Highway 4 closure (including Port Alberni!)

Image West Gallery: 30% off ALL local art tees, 30% off ALL Mala candles, 50-70% off ALL summer dresses ($15 or less), 40% off ALL pool floaties, 40% off select bath and body products, and 30% off select water bottles! Sale running as long as highway is closed!

Reef Point Ocean Front B&B: Off season pricing! For the rest of June, suites are $385.00 and include in suite breakfast. Beautiful ocean views, kitchenette, king bed, soaker tub and clifftop hot tub. Call 250-266-0255 to book or e-mail bdmccreary@reefpoint.ca

Foggy Bean Cafe: Foggy Bean is turning 11! And we’re celebrating a little bit early this year. Our actual birthday is July 1st, but we thought we’d take this unexpected slow down to focus on our west coast locals. It’s great to be able to celebrate with you and make the best of the situation we find ourselves in here on the west coast. We’re offering 20% off coffee beans and 15% off all brewing equipment and merchandise. Our birthday sale starts today and runs all week. In-store only. Thank you for your continued support. Foggy Bean wouldn’t be where we are today without you. The Coffee Bar will be open our usual 8-2 every day. We hope to see you there.

If you have a promotion, please e-mail elizabeth@discoverucluelet.com to be added to the list.

Visting in Ucluelet, you are invited to become one with the community and nature. You are more than just a visitor; you are part of a greater story unfolding all around you.
The story of Ucluelet is rich in cultural history and deep-rooted in appreciation for nature. Located on the traditional territory of the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ -Ucluelet First Nation, our town shares respect and appreciation for Indigenous heritage. Protecting the land and ocean is just one way we show solidarity.

Our ancient cedars tell a story of their own. When you explore the Ancient Cedar’s Loop of the Wild Pacific Trail, you immediately feel the presence of wisdom. Tree roots and gnarly limbs are reflections of winter storms, wild winds, and survival.

“Ucluelet” means Safe Harbour, historically ‘dwellers of the protected place inside’ in Nuu-chah-nulth language. Our harbour has provided safety to fishing vessels waiting out a storm, as a seaplane base and flight strip during World War II, and most prominently, has provided habitat to Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ. Our harbour is home to orca’s feasting, eagles diving, and sea lions playing. The energy is one of protection and calm, even for those who stand on its shoreline.

When you immerse yourself in Ucluelet, you connect with the true spirit and beauty of the area. We welcome you with open arms and ask you to join our story by protecting and loving Ucluelet as much as we do.

Leave no trace

We are so glad you are here, but we don’t want reminders that you were (the bad kind anyways.) Avoid bringing unnecessary garbage, wrapping and single use plastics. Pack it in, pack it out and leave all places you visit unspoiled.

Respect the locals

Not just the people! We have a diverse host of local wildlife who want to go about their business. We respect their space, and they respect ours. Enjoy from a distance and never leave food unattended. As for the people, be the type of visitor they will want to invite back.

Book ahead

Spring and Summer can be busy, that’s why its always best to book ahead. There are some major perks of doing so. You will get top pick of the accommodation of your dreams; you will have your activities planned and reservations secured for amazing meals out. Beat the rush: book now!
For more suggestions on how to fit in with the locals, meet our very own Salty, the Sea Otter. He’s got a lot to say. See you soon!

Landon Sveinson

Landon Sveinson

Accessibility on the Wild Pacific Trail

Lexa Bergen

The nourishing rainy season brings the forest to life in brilliant shades of green as the winter storms subside. Spring is emerging in Ucluelet, with our annual visitors, the grey whales, coming through as they head to Alaska for the summer. These gentle giants are a wonder to behold; if you’re lucky enough, you might even see them from the Wild Pacific Trail!

Springtime is the best of both worlds; everything is open with that off-season quieter vibe, fewer people, but plenty of options. Pick a pace that suits you taking advantage of this time of year (even mid-week) to have a quick getaway discovering a new menu, a decorated hotel room or a new business opening its doors – stay tuned! Even our most seasoned visitors will find something new and exciting in store. Relax while enjoying a meal, feel the salt air on your face during a wildlife boat trip, and take a calm kayak paddle through the harbour or Broken Group Islands. Explore the rainforest by taking a long, slow stroll through the woods or fly down a zipline at the speed of fun. It may not take much time, but the memory of it will last forever.

And if west coast camping is more your love, now is the time to try a midweek escape before the summer. You’ll have a lot more choices, and you can focus on the activities you’d like to enjoy while you’re here. So think about your timing and how you want to jump into spring, literally from a zipline, lounging by the campfire, or just being in nature listening to the sounds of spring. Either way, we know you’ll enjoy every minute you spend here, and you’re always welcome to come back — time and time again.

Lillie Louise Major

Brian Congdon

Landon Sveinson

If you want to get closer to your partner, you need to turn up the cuddle. A sun-soaked beach in February may seem like a great idea, but do you really want to snuggle with someone slathered in SPF 50, sitting on crowded, hot sand? The smarter thing is to find a quiet, secluded, romantic place like Ucluelet. Even when it’s sunny things can get a little chilly, but you can warm things up together by exploring the shops, restaurants and trails or walking along the beach.

The storm and drama of windswept, crashing waves on a rocky shore may be a perfect natural equivalent to the rush of passion that rises within you each time you lock eyes with your beloved. Or it may just be reason enough for you to reach deep inside your heart and say, “You look cold, let’s head back.”

Whether you choose to limit your time in the outdoors to however long it takes to get inside from the car, or you fully embrace the many different ways breathtaking natural beauty can build a stronger bond, you’ll find the shared experience of our wild coast will do wonders for your soul – and your relationship. If it’s raining, don’t be afraid to join those who head out into the storm in their rain gear. Once you shed those wet clothes and slip into something comfortable, the roaring fire, hot drinks and snuggling up afterwards will make it more than worthwhile.

Ucluelet has a perfect balance of storm-tossed natural splendour and creature comforts for all couples looking to get close. In addition to our restaurants and cafes, storm season is a great time to take advantage of the many accommodations with kitchens. There’s nothing like the sight of you unpacking groceries and creating a romantic meal to reassure your partner that they made a good call, romantic-getaway-wise. And remember: toast or popcorn can qualify as romantic – just add candles.

It’s true, some couples stay together without ever going on a romantic stormwatching trip. But many other couples have discovered the lasting value of these shared experiences and the deeper connection it creates in mind, body, and soul. They know you come home looking forward to spending more time together and eagerly anticipating the next trip to Ucluelet. In the summer, say. (Pass the sunblock.)

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