Pacific Rim Highway – to Tofino and Ucluelet

There’s only one main highway to the west coast of Vancouver Island. That’s the Pacific Rim Highway.  The highway is Highway #4 that branches off Highway #19 (Inland Island Highway) near Qualicum Beach.

The first highly recommended stop along the way is the tiny town of Coombs.  However, Coombs is probably home to one of the largest, international markets I have seen on Vancouver Island.  Welcome to the Old Country Market. It’s also sometimes known as “Goats on the Roof.”  The main market includes a variety of dry goods from around the world, a great selection of cheeses, a really wonderful smelling bakery, a lot of knick-knacks, and the cafeteria.  It’s a wonderful place to spend time in.

Behind the main market are a host of other storefronts that include a produce stand, an Italian restaurant, and a surfwear shop.

Then, of course, there are the goats on the roof that mind their own business and are busy keeping the roof tidy as they graze for their lunch.

After  the Old Country Market, we continued due west along the Pacific Rim Highway.  A lot of people recommended that we stop in Cathedral Grove which is literally right along the highway. It’s a giant stand of centuries-old trees.  There a short loop trail that takes you directly to the tallest tree in the grove.  It’s even taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

After Cathedral Grove, we drove through Port Alberni and then a long ways across the breadth of Vancouver Island to the West Coast.  Even after arriving a long drive, we still had to drive north towards Tofino.  In Tofino, we checked a couple of the beaches.  We went to Tonquin and Chesterman Beaches.

At Tonquin Beach, we found a giant rock that was covered in starfish as the tide made its way out.  We had to wait a few minutes as the tide rolled away before we could actually hop on the rock and get closer.

We got to Chesterman Beach near the famous Wickannish Inn as the sun was on its western descent.  The beach is long and expansive.  It would be perfect for long relaxing walks.

During my week on Vancouver Island, I had lucked out with summer like weather in May, but that ended the next day.  We were originally thinking of taking surfing lessons the next day, but the heavy rain that came was a total damper.  I’m not that hard core.

So we drove south to the other Vancouver Island west coast town of Ucluelet.  We tried out the giant Ukee Dogs and spent an hour or so in the Ucluelet Aquarium. The rain in the harbour was heavy and palpable.  We ended spending most of the day indoors.

The Ucluelet Aquarium also has a great assortment of hands-on tanks that allow you to feel starfish, anemone, and sea cucumbers.  All these creatures are “captured”, but then released back into the wild later in the season.  I thought that was neat.  We also got to watch starfish have lunch. They literally take the shrimp heads they were fed and move them to their mouths in the middle of their bodies.  Neat stuff.

So ends my week on Vancouver Island. Thanks for bearing with me as I went into great detail about every single day on the Island.  There was a lot more to do and see than I had ever expected.  The great summer-like weather also helped to get me out and about on my own. Needless to say, it was an awesome little road trip. I hope you had just as much fun reading along.

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