And what/where is Ucluelet, anyway?
Ucluelet is this cool little town on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Cool because it sits on the foggy coast of the Pacific. Cool because it is surrounded on either side by the Pacific Rim National Park. Cool because the Canadian locals are friendly and easy-going. And cool because, amongst other activities, there’s surf!
We arrived by car from Victoria, a long 5-6 hour drive through fantastic scenery, but such harrowing roads that it quickly earned a place on my list of “never again” travel experiences. Never again, that is, until we had to leave the same way we came. But I’ll get to that later.
The Pacific coast of Vancouver Island is known to be a storm-watcher’s paradise. Winter is the best season for storm-watching, but any time of year one can appreciate the ocean’s dramatic meeting with the land on this rugged and wild coast. For surfers, they’ve probably heard of Tofino, which is up the road about 40 minutes drive from Ucluelet. We had every intention of checking it out, but found that Ucluelet offered everything we could need or want for a surf safari, wildlife safari, ocean safari, great dining options, and great lodging…less the crowds of visitors to Tofino.
As a “Native of Paradise” (born in Coronado, California), there are few places in the world I would considering moving to, if I absolutely had to. I could live in Ucluelet, quite happily. That says alot.
Of course, it helped that our accommodations were absolutely gorgeous at the Black Rock Oceanfront Resort, perfectly situated on a rugged rocky promontory surrounded by expansive ocean, rocky inlet, and lush forest. The lobby entrance is perhaps the most dramatic and tasteful architecture I have ever seen, beautifully bringing the outside in. And the views from the rooms are equally and unquestionably spectacular.
We took a stroll down the road at dusk on the evening of our arrival. We were told to “make yourselves heard” so as not to startle any bears that might be wandering around. My 7-year-old daughter clung to my legs and begged my husband to carry her. I took this opportunity to teach her the camp song “The other day…I met a bear…” and soon her fear turned to courage. We sang and laughed and laughed and sang, and skipped gleefully down the road. We must have been sufficiently loud, as no bears crossed our path; and we only quieted enough to watch a doe and her fawn foraging on the roadside ahead of us. The peace of the forest contrasted nicely with the roar of the ocean. That first night – falling asleep listening to the rising tide and the waves crashing into the rocky shore all around – is something I won’t put into words, it simply must be experienced.
It doesn’t take a trip into Pacific Rim National Park boundaries to sight the wildlife, it’s everywhere. In fact, most of our wildlife sightings occurred roadside or just around town…or even just from our balcony at Black Rock.
Bald Eagles are most abundant, with pairs nesting in the treetops and fishing in the waters, or simply soaring in the fresh cool ocean air.