When exploring the surfer town of Tofino, you must visit Ucluelet, British Columbia.
This small town is only a 35-minute drive south of Tofino and very easy to include on your West Vancouver Island adventure!
Here you’ll find an aquarium, sunset dining, storm watching accommodations, and hiking trails to a lighthouse!
4 Awesome Things to Do in Ucluelet, British Columbia
See sea critters at the Ucluelet Aquarium.
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I’ve always loved aquariums. There is something so serene about walking amongst the fish tanks with bright colored fish, watching the divers in the big tank, and, of course, being able to go behind the scenes!
If you love aquariums too, Ucluelet Aquarium is “Canada’s first-catch-and-release aquarium.”
What does that mean? Everything in the aquarium and I mean everything, is from local waters.
These creatures don’t spend a lifetime behind glass; they get released! This means their sealife is continually changing and there is new sealife to see and learn about.
Touch tanks provide that behind the scenes feel and there are lots of other exciting sea life to see like eels, fish and very curious crabs
Tips: Open daily from 10am to 5pm. Ticket prices are $14 (adult); $10 senior; $7(age 4-17), 3 and under are free. Family passes are $50. The aquarium occasionally has education events, visit their Facebook page for an upcoming event.
Try a delicious local hot dog.
After your time at the aquarium, head over to Ukeedogs, a short 3-minute walk away, for a specialty hot dog and a drink.
My top tip? Try the local kombucha!
Have a romantic dinner by the sea.
Enjoying a drink or dining by the sea with a sunset view is on the top of my list of romantic things to do when on vacation!
You can do that at Black Rock Oceanfront Resort. The hotel is on the west side of Vancouver Island and has sea and sunset views.
Dine in at the bar or make a reservation at Fetch Restaurant (request a window table) and you’ll be set to take in the view while dining.
They also have a large patio connected to the dining room, which is open in the warmer months.
Have an overnight in a room with a sunset view.
While visiting Ucluelet, I had the pleasure of being hosted by the Black Rock Oceanfront Resort!
The contemporary resort is in a stunning location situated on a rocky outcrop with direct views of the sea. It is an excellent accommodation for sunsets and winter storm watching.
Many rooms have private balconies for you to enjoy your favorite drink (they do have bottles of wine for purchase in the room ($25) if you don’t want to venture into town).
When you want some me time, book an experience at the onsite spa or chill in the outdoor pool or hot tubs next to the sea.
Hit the trail and head to the Amphrite Lighthouse.
For some outdoor adventure, take the trail to the Amphrite Lighthouse. It faces Barkley Sound and is on the Wild Pacific Trail.
The Amphrite Lighthouse was originally built in 1906 and the one you see today was built in 1915.
The loop takes about 40 minutes to hike, and along the way, you’ll see trees twisted by the wind, a love lock stop, hear the whistle of a buoy, and paths that take you to more vistas.
Tip: If you are visiting in March, keep an eye out for whales. You might be tempted to go out on the rocks, but it is strongly advised to stay on the trail.
Tip: Ucluelet is also close to Pacific Rim National Preserve trails. When you stop by the park or tourism office, have them show you the nearby trails.
How to Get to Ucluelet
When visiting West Vancouver Island, you’ll want a car as there is so much to explore in the area, including Pacific Rim National Reserve, as well as neighboring Tofino.
It is quite a trek to get to the west coast of Vancouver Island, and the journey takes you through mountains and Provincial Parks. The closest international airport is in Victoria, British Columbia, which is a great place to rent a car.
Depending on the time of year you are visiting, be sure to check the tire and chain requirements.
From October to April, drivers are required to have snow tires to drive through a small section of the mountains. If you rent a car, verify with the rental company that the vehicle has snow tires and not just all-weather tires. Read more about it here.
If you are driving from Washington State, a good option is to catch the Black Ball Ferry Line from Port Angeles. It is a 90-minute ride, and once you get to Victoria, the drive to Tofino takes around 4.5-hours. Another option is to drive north on I-5, cross the border into Canada, and catch the ferry at Tsawwassen. The ferry ride is 2 hours, and when you get to Nanaimo, the drive to Tofino is 3 hours.
Tip: If you need to get gas, Port Alberni is the last major town with services before you head over the mountains.
What method of travel did I take? I took the Black Ball Ferry line from Port Angeles and stayed at a cheap motel close to the ferry. The Flagstone Motel was very affordable ($50 in March), and surprisingly the bed was very comfortable, which can be iffy in a cheap motel stay.
32 thoughts on “4 Awesome Things to Do in Ucluelet, British Columbia”
Vancouver Island is so beautiful. It is quite likely that anything you do there is awesome… But that being said, these are a great starting point. Hopefully one day we will get back to Vancouver Island and Ucluelet.
Thanks for sharing. Keep travel blogging. Adventure is better shared with friends!
Anthony, I hope you get to head back there! I’m hoping to go back and explore more to as I feel like I only touched the surface of all the great things the area has to offer.
Ucluelet, British Columbia looks charming and untouched. Ideal for a secluded getaway. I am really attracted by the Lighthouse and the trail leading to it. Makes for an interesting walk. Lighthouses never fail to fascinate with their aura of mystery and romance. The views from the resort too look awesome and something to lookout for.
Sandy, I’m a huge lighthouse fan too. There is something so romantic about them, even tho being a lighthouse keeper was such hard work.
Oooh, I love the look of the Wild Pacific Trail at Amprhite Lighthouse, those twisty tree trunks look absolutely beautiful, so photogenic! And I love seeing sealife too, so would definitely want to visit Ucluelet Aquarium.
Kavita, There were so many twisty trees in this area! I hope you get to visit soon!
While I’m a fan of marine life and I love the big, beautiful Aquariums, I’m not sure I’d feel like touching the sea critters! I mean, I love that they get the fishes from local waters and they release them (big thumbs up) but I still wouldn’t touch them. Have you?
Danila, Yes! The starfish and the sea cucumbers. 🙂
I think I would totally enjoy this and would want to make it an overnight destination to just relax and enjoy that water! I also love aquariums and that hot dog looks amazing! What kind of specialty hot dog is it? Looks so yummy!
The hot dogs are made with Two Rivers Natural hot dogs. I ordered the Canuck with bacon, cheddar, and seasoned sauteed onions. Very tasty! Ucluelet is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the views. I hope your travel plans take you there!
What a lovely looking little town! I’d love to visit British Columbia one day. That resort right on the water looks so relaxing! I can just imagine sitting out on the porch with a glass of wine – perfection!
Maggie, A glass of wine and a view is always a good thing. 🙂
Great tips … your best one is to be sure you have the right tires (people new to Vancouver Island often forget even the lower mountains over the middle can become snowy and slippery very quickly! I spent so much time when younger on Vancouver Island in and around Victoria and up the east side. Never the West … and I know I was missing out on some grand scenery and adventure. Added Black Rock Oceanfront Resort as a place to stay and will plan on a driving adventure starting in Washington — taking the ferry for sure. 😉
Michael, What a great place to grow up. I need to explore the small towns on the east side more. 🙂 I was very surprised about the tires as I thought all-weather tires were snow tires, but they are not!
British Columbia has been calling my name for years now and your post is NOT making it easier to resist! It seems like there isn’t a bad view in the whole province. Absolutely love the idea of a “catch-and-release” aquarium. It’s brilliant!
Jenia, I live so close and don’t visit enough. It is beautiful for sure! I hope you find yourself there soon!
I have been meaning to get over to Vancouver Island. That little lighthouse trail is right up my alley, and the Black Rock Hotel looks like a great place to spend the night.
Alice, The hotel, and the trail are both fantastic and very close to each other. I felt very blessed to experience both.
I love the coast, and this is one of my favourite types of coast – wild and craggy! It’s fascinating that the aquarium effectively has guests rather than residents. I think I’d have to do the walk, and enjoy exploring the lighthouse and the shoreline. It reminds me of Hartland Quay in Devon, which is also pretty and wild.
Bernie, I so love that “aquarium guests!” I hope your travels take you there one day as it sounds like you’ll love it.
I’d absolutely love to dine on that beautiful patio! Such beautiful views. Also, I love the way the wind has twisted those trees. What a beautiful place in the world, thanks for sharing!
Carmen, I love when trees get all twisty like that too.
I want to visit BC so badly! Love all the information you gave, will have to keep this in mind for whenever the day comes that I book that flight! I’ve never heard a bad thing about BC and when my boyfriend visited in the winter I wasn’t able to tag along. It’s a dream of mine, for sure!
Shannon, I hope you get to go soon!
This is great! I’ve been starting to collect some ideas for a trip to Vancouver Island, so I’ll have to put Ucluelet on my list as well. I’d be tempted to splurge for a night at the Black Rock Oceanfront Resort just for those views!
Tracie, Ucluelet, and Tofino are great stops on Vancouver Island and so worth the drive over to the west side. The resort does have fab views!
Sound like a cool place to visit. I love the lighthouse. I really also like the way you have a slider for photos embedded into the article. Pretty cool.
Bob, Ucluelet is a rugged and beautiful place. I had such a great day hiking to the lighthouse and along the Pacific Coast Trail. Glad you like the slider photos!
Ahhhh this post makes me miss British Columbia so much! Ucluelet is a new location for me, but seems right up my alley. You just can’t beat those Northwestern sunsets by the sea. The aquarium took me back to when I was a kid too, I miss those touch tanks it’s one of the best ways to learn through experience!
Greig, Touch tanks are so much fun! Love the feel of the starfish. I hope you make it back to BC!
Amazing that all the sea creatures in the aquarium are from local waters and get released periodically! Wish other aquariums and zoos could adopt such an approach instead of keeping the animals in captivity for life!
Alex, I think it is a great idea and one that easily works when the aquarium is right over the water. There is another in Port Townsend, Washington that has the same practice. Thanks so much for commenting.
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