Mar 10

West Coast Swing (Destination: Port Alberni and Pacific Rim National Park)

We used Port Alberni as our 3 night base for the west coast for several reasons.  First, the hotels were about $40 a night cheaper here than they were in Tofino.  Second, I had found great reviews for the Riverside Motel and found a great room in this remodeled single story motel.  Our room actually had two rooms and a kitchenette.  One room was the dining area and a queen bed and TV.  The second room was another queen bed and access to the bathroom.  This was a great set up since I was sharing rooms with my parents – we each got our own rooms!  In addition to the kitchenettes, we also had access to a grill and patio table and chairs outside.

While checking in, I enquired about getting a salmon dinner and the lady said that there was a local Salmon Festival going on about 3 blocks from the hotel!   So we walked over and had a full salmon dinner for about $10 with the locals.  We listened to some strangle live music, and saw a 66 pound salmon, which was the winner of the biggest fish contest.  That thing was huge!

The next day was our trip to Pacific Rim National Park.  The weather forecast showed clouds and rain all day and unfortunately was correct.  At some points it was dry, others sprinkling, and other times were downright pouring.  Despite the gloomy views we saw tide pools at low tide at Chesterman beach,

Did a couple short boardwalk hikes,

Drove thru Tofino and Uclelet to visit the lighthouse

We drove back to Port Alberni and I dropped my parents at the German restaurant while I watched the black bears across the river from the quay.  I had read that bears often frequent this spot and I did see a bear come out of the wood, snatch a salmon out of the river, and retreat.

The next day, we went back to the quay and hung out with the local older guys that go there to shoot the breeze and watch the bears every morning.  There was more bear activity this day.  One bear walking solo and eventually 2 bears wrestling.  It’s amazing they see this every day in September.


We headed to the port for our all day ferry ride to Bamfield on the west coast.  We boarded the Francis Barkley ship for a 3 hour ride up the fjord.  Wildlife like bears and eagles were seen enroute.

This was a working ship so we dropped off mail and packages to floating homes and villages on the route.  This is the only floating post office in Canada:

We made another drop at this oyster farm:

Bamfield is the northern end of the southern part of Pacific Rim National Park, and the ending spot of a famous, wild hike.  We had 1.5 hours to do what we wanted so my mom and I hiked over Brady’s beach.  The sun was shining and the beach was beautiful.  There were some tidepools that contained purple and red urchins and orange and purple starfish.

Back in town, there was time to walk the boardwalk.  We saw the cat houses

And the famous 2 story outhouses.

The captain of the Francis Barkley had heard reports of whales in the area so as we left we sought out this humpback:

I spent quite a bit of time talking to a volunteer on the boat.  The local chamber of commerce has 2 volunteers on the boat each day in the summer.  I think I found my post-retirement gig!

Overall this day on the boat was great.  They have a kitchen and cook with reasonable prices on breakfasts, burgers, and drinks – even beer and wine.

We still had a little daylight left so we headed over to Stamp Falls to see the salmon ladder.  The falls weren’t very impressive but it was cool to see the 100’s of salmon working up the energy to head up the salmon ladder.

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