This short adventure takes you by floatplane to the wild west coast of Vancouver Island. You'll have close to three days to explore the rugged coastline, walk through ancient rainforest, and head off on a full-day sea kayaking or hiking adventure. At night, relax in a cozy lodge next to the beach and enjoy some of the province's best restaurants in the small villages of Ucluelet and Tofino. 

Highlights

  • Hit the trails through coastal rainforest and driftwood-strewn beaches
  • Delight in some of the province's best restaurants in Ucluelet and Tofino
  • Sea kayak through the beautiful Broken Group Islands
  • Watch the storms break against the rugged pacific coastline

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Vancouver Vancouver
Day 2 Vancouver to Pacific Rim (1 hour) Pacific Rim
Day 3 Explore Pacific Rim National Park Pacific Rim
Day 4 Pacific Rim to Vancouver (1 hour) Vancouver
Day 5 Depart Vancouver  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Vancouver

Stanley Park, Deadman's Island, and downtown Vancouver
Stanley Park, Deadman's Island, and downtown Vancouver

Fringed by the Pacific Ocean and backed by the coastal mountains, Vancouver is one of the world's most livable cities with some of North America's best cuisine, rich indigenous heritage, and opportunities for outdoor activities. 

It takes around 30 minutes to get from the airport to downtown. The city center and surrounding neighborhoods are within easy walking or biking distance and all the main attractions are a short distance away. To get your bearings, start with a stroll along the seawall from English Bay to False Creek before wandering the historical, cobbled streets of Gastown and Chinatown

With over 60 different cultures, pick from a variety of international restaurants serving anything from Asian cuisine to seasonal farm-to-table dishes. For dinner, choose from a selection of top-notch eateries—from downtown and the West End to the North Shore and Kitsilano. Keep in mind, Vancouverites love eating out any day of the week so be sure to make a reservation if it's a popular restaurant.

Day 2: Vancouver to Pacific Rim (1 hour)

Float plane departing downtown Vancouver
Float plane departing downtown Vancouver

From downtown Vancouver, take a scenic floatplane flight over to Tofino, with beautiful views of the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island along the way. 

A haven for surf fans, families, and city-escaping Vancouverites, Tofino sits at the end of the long and narrow Esowista Peninsula on sheltered Clayoquot Sound and offers a wide range of food options and outdoor excursions. Catch a wave on a surfboard or spot whales, bears, and sea lions on a boat tour (to avoid disappointment, book tours well in advance).

Flying time (Vancouver to Tofino): 45 minutes

Day 3: Explore Pacific Rim National Park

Driftwood on Chesterman Beach south of Tofino
Driftwood on Chesterman Beach south of Tofino

Pack your hiking boots (and beach gear) for a full-day if exploring the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Drive south on Highway 4 to Ucluelet, a small town on the northern edge of Barkley Sound that offers all of the same pursuits as in Tofino, but on a quieter scale. Rent a kayak and paddle the distance to a few of the wave-whipped islands (there are a hundred) of the Broken Island Group, where you can come ashore and hike the picturesque islands. Best to book a tour if you're not an experienced kayaker.

Sticking to firm ground, you can choose from a variety of trails found along the Long Beach area of the park. Opt first for the 1.6-mile (2.6-km) Lighthouse Loop that starts from He-tin-kis Park south of Ucluelet. Traveling back up the coast toward Tofino, try a couple of other routes: the 3-mile (5 km) Nuu-chah-nulth Trail, a historical loop that opens up to the beach; one of the two half-mile (1 km) Rainforest trails that offer views of towering western red cedar and hemlock, birds, streams, and massive ferns; or the Combers Trail, where a short walk leads to a shell- and driftwood-strewn expanse of beach—great to explore at low tide.

Day 4: Pacific Rim to Vancouver (1 hour)

Float plane docked in Tofino
Float plane docked in Tofino

Say farewell to the Pacific Rim and head to Tofino's harbor for the floatplane flight back to the mainland. You'll arrive in downtown Vancouver and settle into your hotel. Take the afternoon and evening to explore on your own and catch the sunset from one of Vancouver's coastal parks or seawalls. 

Flying time (Tofino to Vancouver): 45 minutes

Day 5: Depart Vancouver

Sunset over Vancouver from Kits Beach
Sunset over Vancouver from Kits Beach

Head to The Naam (open 24/7) for an early morning breakfast before making your way to the airport. If you're feeling indulgent, splurge on a seaplane harbor tour to take in the magnificent scenery of the mountain-and-sea-dominated city from a new perspective. Alternatively, enjoy some more time at Stanley Park, paying a visit to Klahowya Village via the Spirit Catcher miniature train to watch cultural performances. Here you can also purchase souvenirs and gifts of traditional First Nations arts and crafts from the Artisan Marketplace and Métis Trading Post.

It usually takes 30 minutes to travel from downtown Vancouver to Vancouver International Airport but allow extra time in case of traffic. Best to arrive at least two hours prior to your international departure while allowing extra time to drop off your rental car.

Map

Map of Pacific Rim Adventure: Vancouver to Tofino - 5 Days
Map of Pacific Rim Adventure: Vancouver to Tofino - 5 Days