Above: Halfmoon bay on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.
Finally, a destination in BC that had long been on the list to visit was finally ticked off a few weeks ago. Meg and I were able to book a week off for the road trip in early June to avoid the peak of summer crowds and before we both got busy with work in Fernie.
We took off on a Friday morning driving west on highway 3 as far as Osoyoos before stopping for some impromptu put put golf and a bit of dinner. We would have loved to stay in this pretty town but unfortunately the campsite at Hayes point provincial park was fully booked so we continued on until dusk and made camp in the back of the car at Sidewinder Provincial park (one of the few pull out highway adjacent campgrounds that we would frequent on the trip). It was a very basic site with pit toilets and a running river to wash up at and was enough for our car camping needs.
The next morning we took off early and stopped for breakfast in Princeton before reaching Vancouver by early afternoon. We had less than 24 hrs in the big city but we were luck enough to stay with Megs friend Curtis right in the downtown area so we were able to walk around the city easily and enjoy some of the sights and local fare. Sushi, a porchetta sandwich from “Meat and Bread” and some beers from the Steamworks brewery went down a treat. We spent the rest of the night chatting, drinking and catching up life as well as youtube fails and music videos.
As fun as it was to be back in a big city again, we were both keen to move on from the concrete jungle so after saying goodbye to our friends in the morning we drove to Tsawassen to take the ferry across to Schwartz bay and on to Victoria. It cost $90 for the both of us and our vehicle to board the ferry but although quite pricey, it was worth the money as the ride is quite enjoyable and the whole process of boarding/disembarking is run really smoothly. We reached Victoria by the early afternoon and checked into our air bnb before renting some bikes and cruising along the coast.
After building up a decent appetite we popped by the famous Red fish Blue fish for a seafood fix. As far as touristy food establishments go, this one definitely lived up to the hype and was super affordable. We went for a few fish tacos and a jerk fish poutine (amazing!) which cost us under $30. After chowing down on the provided seating on the dock and enjoying the view, we headed to the Bard and Banker pub (nice old fashioned interior) in the downtown area where we tasted some local beers and racked up a good tab whilst enjoying some live music.
The next few days were spent with some of Megs hometown friends Alyssa and Blake who live together in Mill Bay. The quaint little town made for a nice base for the next few days where we hiked in the Goldstream provincial park, took a day trip down to the Sooke pot holes and kayaked around Newcastle Island up near Nanaimo. We even got to squeeze in a round of frolf (frisbee golf) at a fun course in Bowen park.
To finish off our trip we all headed west to Tofino and Ucluelet for a couple of days of exploring. On the drive across we stopped at a kitschy farmers market with grazing goats on the roof where we indulged in some tasty home made pastries before checking out Cathedral grove. The giant trees are remarkable to see in person and would be a taste of the beautiful coastal rainforest we would see as we travelled closer to the west coast.
We met up with Alyssa and Blake at Surf Junction campground just outside of Ucluelet which would be home for the next 2 days. For the large amount of sites they have, you still feel relatively secluded as each one is separated by dense trees and bush. The amenities were as you could expect for a campground with the added bonus of a hot tub which we got to try out one evening.
Our stay on the West coast consisted mainly of doing little hikes along the coast which were gentle strolls on gravel pathways compared to the leg burners we’re used to in the mountains. Never the less they were enjoyable, taking in some scenic views of the ocean under grey skies whilst being weary of the multiple wolf warnings we came across at almost every stop. Apart from hikes, we also checked out the famous Tacofino food truck which again lived up to the hype (and for a cheap price) and had a couple of beers at the Tofino Brewing co where I got to catch up with our buddy Ryan who had lived in Fernie previously and I’d visited in February in Japan. (FYI the brewery is a great spot to hang out for an hour or two in the afternoon sun with an open plan warehouse floor which seems popular with tourists and locals alike).
We spent the last night at the campground sipping a few beers around the hot tub and later around the campfire, chatting about future plans for the summer and beyond. Unfortunately our time was short on the island but we got to see enough of it to know that we will visit again sometime in the future. The next morning we grabbed a coffee and breakfast pastry at Zoe’s in Ucluelet (highly recommended) and did the small hike to half-moon bay before starting the long journey back to Fernie. It was a bit sombre leaving the coast but as we neared the mountains we were glad to be heading home.