After a day in Vancouver, catch a scenic floatplane flight to the west coast of Vancouver Island where ancient rainforests, remote islands, and abundant wildlife await. You'll have three days to enjoy the Pacific Rim National Park, sea kayaking and hiking by day and delighting in the local great restaurants by night. Head back to Vancouver by floatplane, as well, before returning back home from Vancouver.

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 Explore Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve Pacific Rim
Day 5 Pacific Rim to Vancouver (1 hour) Vancouver
Day 6 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: Explore Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve

Lone kayaker paddles off Vancouver Island's western shore
Lone kayaker paddles off Vancouver Island's western shore

Spend the day exploring Clayoquot Sound, a wild region of forests, trails, beaches, and islands that provide access to what is quintessentially western British Columbia. Devote the morning to a sea kayaking tour in the regional waters around Tofino; you can stick close to the coast with an easy two and a half-hour paddle, or, for something more extreme, set out into Clayoquot Sound for Vargas Island on a six-hour ocean paddle adventure. 

There are also a number of day trips from Tofino by hired zodiac or seaplane (tours depart late morning and early afternoon) to places such as Maquinna Marine Provincial Park. Keep an eye out for gray whales that feed here through the summer as well as other sea creatures that frequent the area. From the boat landing in Maquinna Park, just over a mile (2 km) of boardwalks lead to the natural hot springs of Hot Spring Cove where you'll have about three hours ashoreenough time to soak in a few of the mini baths!

Day 5: 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 6: 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 by Flight - 6 Days
Map of Pacific Rim Adventure: Vancouver to Tofino by Flight - 6 Days