Just as “no one should go to Victoria without seeing Butchart Gardens,” no trip to the Island is really complete until you’ve seen at least part of the Pacific Rim National Park which includes the West Coast Trail (not for the faint of heart), the Broken Islands Group (an archipelago off the southern tip of Ucluelet) and Long Beach — 22 km of coastal beaches and 12 km of trails.
I have vague memories of Long Beach as a child — there are family photos lurking somewhere from the early 70s — and fond memories of the region from my teens and early 20s when I camped with friends. When I found out Mike had never been, I put it on our “must do” list. I tracked down a cabin in Ucluelet (the town to the south of Long Beach) and booked it online.
Friday, we piled everything into the van (after a delay because we needed to get the serpentine belt replaced — a BIG thank you to the staff at Mr. Lube for pointing that out) and headed for the West Coast of the Island. It’s a long-ish haul, about 5 hours of driving with most of the last portion being along a winding, narrow, two lane (one each direction) section of Highway 4 — including two bridges under repair that were down to a single lane with the instructions “yield to oncoming traffic.” We made it (obviously) and at least on the way back we’ll hit the ugly part first.
This morning, after a lovely breakfast (one of the reasons I love staying in cabins is not having to go out to eat) we made our way to Long Beach, hitting the rainforest trails, the beach itself and Radar Hill (which promised panoramic views but provided lots of treetops). The trails, boardwalks through the coastal rainforest, were the highlight for me; Kiddo got a lot more enjoyment from running along the sandy beach into the shallows of the ocean and watching skimboarders and surfers do their thing. It really is a beautiful place — but so are a lot of other Island locations we’ve visited. If you’ve never been to a west coast beach, it’s the quintessential example of the geography: