Nanaimo to Tofino Drive – 13 Improbable Stops to Make

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Tofino’s rising recognition has spurned an enormous enhance in individuals making the Nanaimo to Tofino drive. Regardless that you may fly into Tofino, it may be costly and automobile leases when you’re in Tofino are sometimes a difficulty. The drive is sensible for almost all of individuals heading to the west coast of Vancouver Island and driving provides you the final word in flexibility.

I’ve accomplished the Nanaimo to Tofino drive a minimum of a half dozen instances. More often than not, I’ve been extremely centered and have needed to get to Tofino as shortly as doable. Granted I’ve accomplished the compulsory cease at Cathedral Grove on virtually each drive, however just lately John and I ended anyplace that appeared fascinating.

In principle, you are able to do the Nanaimo to Tofino drive in simply over three hours, ranging from the Departure Bay Ferry Terminal. Sadly, there’s a huge building challenge at Kennedy Hill that could be a 12 months or two delayed. You’re going to get held up right here – regardless of how good your timing is so BE SURE to test the BC Journey Advisory for Freeway 4. It’s up to date each day so can work out how you can decrease your wait time. 

Now for some excellent news.

The Nanaimo to Tofino drive is kind of great. There are a great deal of stops to make, beginning in Nanaimo itself. Maybe make a few stops on the drive to Tofino and one other few stops on the drive again – or take a protracted day and do all of them.

Location map of stops on the Nanaimo to Tofino drive


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13 Stops to Make on the Nanaimo to Tofino Drive

Take pleasure in a simple hike in Nanaimo’s Pipers Lagoon Park

If you might want to stretch your legs after a journey on the ferry, I extremely suggest a scenic stroll in Pipers Lagoon Park, referred to as considered one of “Nanaimo’s well-known waterfront parks.”

The park, constructed on an isthmus that encompasses a rocky headland, options beautiful trails with quite a few ocean viewpoints. Among the trails are flat however others require a little bit of rock scrambling to get to the headland. From the headland, you may see out to historic Shack Island and the southern level of Neck Level Park. 

Shack Island, with its vibrant cabins, that may solely be handed right down to members of the family, has an fascinating historical past you may examine right here.

The park is ideal in the event you’re into birding. Over an hour lengthy stroll, my husband noticed oystercatchers, quite a few sorts of gulls and geese and a towhee. Its a park the place you may normally discover sandpipers, loons, kingfishers, and horned grebes as effectively. For those who’re not into birds, you may take pleasure in beachcombing or perhaps a brisk swim on a scorching summer season’s day.

A view to Shack Island from Piper's Lagoon Park
A view to Shack Island from Pipers Lagoon Park
Lots of variety with the hiking trails in Piper's Lagoon Park
A number of selection with the mountain climbing trails in Pipers Lagoon Park

Take a hike in Moorecroft Regional Park

Most individuals are usually not going to exit of their option to cease at Moorecroft Regional Park on the Nanaimo to Tofino drive BUT in case you have time to kill it’s a stunning, quiet oasis on the ocean. In truth, it’s managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

There’s a community of trails on this park, the location of a former youth camp. The one I counsel you are taking goes round Arab Cove to Vesper Level. Search for Garry oak timber and coastal Douglas fir timber. Then discover a log and luxuriate in a picnic whereas having fun with views of the Salish Sea and Coast Mountains.

On the Nanaimo to Tofino drive stop in Moorecroft Regional Park for a hike
Attractive mountain climbing in Moorecroft Regional Park
Watching kayakers from the shore of Moorecroft Park
Watching kayakers from the shore of Moorecroft Park

Cease in Coombs for goats and presents

Coombs is a well-liked cease on the Nanaimo to Tofino drive on account of a household of goats you may catch grazing on the grassy rooftop of the Coombs Outdated Nation Market. I’ve stopped right here on quite a few events for lunch and to buy meals objects however in September 2021, it was so busy that there was nowhere even close by to park.

For those who’re touring within the low season or at a quiet time of day, it’s well worth the go to. You may normally see the goats on the roof, even in the event you don’t cease.

Discover Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park

You’ll discover Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park simply 45 minutes exterior of Nanaimo. The park was established in 1940 to guard previous progress forest. It’s very a lot price a cease as there’s a stunning 2 kilometre stroll with a myriad of viewpoints to benefit from the sight of the spectacular Little Qualicum Falls coursing by a rocky gorge. I’d suggest doing the loop hike from the higher falls to the decrease falls (or vice versa).

Enable about an hour so you may get your pictures and soak within the splendour of the panorama. Anticipate to share the paths as it is a well-liked vacation spot, particularly for households.

Viewpoints at the top of Upper Qualicum Falls
Viewpoints on the prime of Higher Qualicum Falls
The Little Qualicum Falls are very impressive
Higher Qualicum Falls are very spectacular
Notice the fencing all around Upper Qualicum Falls
Discover the fencing throughout Higher Qualicum Falls

Cease at Cameron Lake’s Beaufort Picnic Web site for a picnic and swim

Cameron Lake is a good place for a cease. On a scorching day, cool off with a swim. Take pleasure in a picnic with cooling breezes and stretch your legs on the seashore. 

 Beaufort Picnic area at Cameron Lake
Cameron Lake – particularly the Beaufort Picnic space is an effective place to cease for a swim or a picnic
The Beaufort picnic site offers a nice break on the Nanaimo to Tofino drive
The Beaufort picnic web site affords a pleasant break from driving

Gawk at large timber in Cathedral Grove – a should cease of the Nanaimo to Tofino drive

For those who solely make one cease on the Nanaimo to Tofino drive, make it Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park. It’s virtually a non secular expertise strolling among the many large timber within the grove, a few of that are virtually 800 years previous.

The draw back is simply how busy the world is now. Whereas there may be plenty of parking, you need to be so cautious as individuals are backing up, youngsters are operating round, and Cathedral Grove is instantly adjoining to Freeway 4 – so there are impatient drivers that aren’t at all times paying consideration.

There are trails on each side of the freeway – and each are price strolling. The most important Douglas fir timber, together with one which measures greater than 9 metres in circumference is on the south facet of the freeway. Groves of historic Western pink cedar might be seen on the north facet of the freeway.

Awe-inspiring Douglas fir trees in Cathedral Grove
Awe-inspiring Douglas fir timber in Cathedral Grove
The Cathedral Forest on the way to Tofino
Cease within the Cathedral Forest on the best way to Tofino

Hike the Gap within the Wall Path in Port Alberni

The one sight we missed on the Nanaimo to Tofino drive was the Gap within the Wall Path on the outskirts of Port Alberni. The trailhead is immediately throughout the freeway from Coombs Nation Sweet however there may be room for under three or 4 vehicles. Alternatively, park in lots subsequent to the sweet retailer.

The brief hike (10 -Quarter-hour a method) on the Gap within the Wall Path will take you thru forest and ship you on the Gap within the Wall, a man-made construction used at one level for a pipeline. When the pipeline was eliminated, the creek flowed once more into the crystal-clear pool under. 

The Hole in the Wall near Port Alberni
The Gap within the Wall close to Port Alberni Photograph credit score: Brian Manning on Flickr Inventive Commons

Go to the Sproat Lake Petroglyphs

The Sproat Lake petroglyphs or Okay’aka’win are a rock artwork web site on a slab of vertical rock on the shores of Sproat Lake in Sproat Lake Provincial Park. Reportedly these are a number of the greatest examples of rock artwork in British Columbia however sadly a part of the rock face has been defaced.

Entry to see them is by a floating dock. You get shut sufficient to see particulars, but additionally far sufficient away to make them laborious to the touch.

There’s a simple strolling path parallel to Sproat Lake to get to the petroglyphs. You’ll discover signage pointing the best way in the event you head down in direction of the lake from the parking zone. You are able to do the return stroll with a cease to admire the paranormal figures in 30 – 45 minutes, but when its a pleasant day I might additionally counsel a swim within the lake.

It's a pretty walk to see the petroglyphs in Sprout Lake Provincial Park
It’s a reasonably stroll to see the petroglyphs in Sprout Lake Provincial Park
The petroglyphs are best viewed from this dock
The petroglyphs are greatest seen from this dock
Close-up of the petroglyphs
Shut-up of the petroglyphs

Hike the Big Cedar Path

For those who’re on the lookout for huge timber, a brief hike and no individuals then do the brief Big Cedar Path between Port Alberni and Pacific Rim Nationwide Park. 

When John and I did it in late September, we didn’t see a soul. It’s not a effectively saved up path – so you could possibly count on to get moist if it rained just lately as you stroll by ferns, underneath mossy branches and proper beside small timber. It can take you about 10 minutes to get to the primary of the massive timber. And by huge, I imply large, crane your neck to see the highest kind of timber. I misplaced virtually all my photographs of this space so I’m not in a position to showcase simply how lovely and peaceable the hike is.

However do it – and benefit from the serenity of the forest. We did it as a loop and ended up on the freeway a few half a kilometre from the automobile. I’d say simply retrace your steps when you’ve handed the final of the large timber.

The Giant Cedar is another inspiring sight
The Big Cedar is one other inspiring sight

Go to the Ucluelet Aquarium

The Ucluelet Aquarium shouldn’t be like most you go to. First it options native creatures from Barkley and Clayoqut Sounds and secondly it’s a collect-and-release aquarium. Shows change continuously and are dependent upon what life there may be in tidepools, kelp forests and eelgrass beds.

The aquarium says they’ll by no means assure what they’ll have however you might even see octopuses, jellyfish, sea cucumbers, squat lobsters, and grunt sculpins.

The Ucluclet Aquarium is worth a visit especially if you have kids
The Ucluclet Aquarium is price a go to particularly in case you have youngsters
Get an up close view of the fish and invertebrates from Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds
Get an up shut view of the fish and invertebrates from Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds

Stroll the Historic Cedars Loop Path in Ucluelet

The Historic Cedars Loop Path in Ucluelet packs a punch contemplating it should solely take you Quarter-hour to hike – with out stops. The path options western hemlock, large pink cedars, and old-growth Sitka spruce. There are a few large timber to behold, with one about 800 years previous, measuring greater than 12 metres in circumference.

Based on a neighborhood web site these previous timber have withstood “gale-force winds, lightning strikes and maybe even the native tsunami 300 years in the past.

There may be one improbable lookout the place you may watch the waves roll after which crash into shore, simply off the path. Different highlights of the old-growth rainforest embrace mosses, lichens, lovely ferns, and large nurse-logs.

The Ancient Cedars Trail is a good place for storm watching
The Historic Cedars Path is an effective place for storm watching
Enjoy some dandy big trees on the Ancient Cedars Trail
Take pleasure in some dandy huge timber on the Historic Cedars Path

Take pleasure in a simple stroll on the Ucluelet Lighthouse Loop

The Lighthouse Loop hike is a 2.6 km part of the Wild Pacific Path that’s excellent if you’d like a style of what the wild west coast of Vancouver Island can provide. Take pleasure in spectacular ocean views, huge timber with tales to inform, the squat Amphitrite Level Lighthouse, beachcombing, monster wave viewing, particularly in storm season and the beautiful lavatory interpretive loop.

You solely want 45 – 60 minutes to stroll the loop. It’s principally stroller pleasant and its actually household pleasant. There are some steep units of stairs to get right down to the ocean, however they are often simply bypassed.

You'll find lots of viewpoints along the Lighthouse Loop Trail
You’ll discover plenty of viewpoints alongside the Lighthouse Loop Path
Spectacular scenery on the Lighthouse Loop Trail
Spectacular surroundings on the Lighthouse Loop Path
The lighthouse built in 1915 is still standing
The lighthouse in-built 1915 continues to be standing

Take a look at Lengthy Seaside in Pacific Rim Nationwide Park

Lengthy Seaside owes its title to the very fact that it’s the longest sand seashore on the west coast of Vancouver Island. There’s room for everybody to do their factor – whether or not it’s merely strolling the seashore, swimming, constructing sandcastles, browsing or kayaking. Don’t overlook snacks and a picnic. It’s a fantastic place to look at the solar go down whilst you stare into the embers of a seashore hearth. When was the final time you have been allowed to have a type of?

For those who don’t cease on the drive to Tofino, take into account visiting by bike. There’s a brand new pretty multi-use path which you could cycle proper from Tofino (and proceed all the best way to Ucluelet in the event you’re so inclined). Simply don’t overlook the bike lock.

Beautiful Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park
Stunning Lengthy Seaside in Pacific Rim Nationwide Park
This spot on Long Beach is easy to access from the parking lot
This spot on Lengthy Seaside is straightforward to entry from the parking zone

The place to remain when you attain Tofino

On our most up-to-date journey we stayed at Center Seaside Lodge. I’ve at all times loved the vibe there – and now they’ve treehouses too. I additionally love Lengthy Seaside Lodge Resort and Pacific Sands Seaside Resort, each of which supply straightforward seashore entry.

Extra concepts of issues to do on Vancouver Island

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13 fantastic stops on the drive from Nanaimo to Tofino
13 improbable stops on the drive from Nanaimo to Tofino together with seashores, huge timber, petroglyphs and waterfalls


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