If you have followed my blog for a little bit now you must know I am a big fan of Vancouver Island, particularly Tofino. I have been there for work and play several times, but on a recent trip I wanted to discover a slightly less touristy area of that part of the island – Ucluelet.
I have always loved the island vibe. Small, laid back beachfront communities where surfing is a locals favourite hobby and everyone knows everyone at the local cafes. However I didn’t know how different Ucluelet could be. Located on the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ First Nations traditional territories, the beaches here are covered in black rock instead of sand, and just steps from your front door you are transported back in time as ancient rainforests sing to you in the wind. It is rugged beauty like nothing you have seen before and something that will have you coming back for more.
One thing that I absolutely loved about Ucluelet over staying in Tofino was the walkability. Sure, if you are able to find a place close to town in Tofino you can get around easily, but if you want to stay at one of the more luxury resorts on the beach, you would have to drive into town. In Ucluelet no matter where you were staying you were just minutes from beautiful trails, the rugged yet beautiful rocky oceanfront, and delicious dining.
Where to stay
Since we became a family of four (a human and fur baby) it can be difficult to find accommodation for all of us, but I loved that Ucluelet had a lot of kid (baby) and pet friendly places. We spent the weekend in luxury and stayed at the Black Rock Oceanfront Resort.
This beautiful hotel is located right on top of the dramatic black rocks of the Pacific Ocean – you can literally see the waves crashing against the shore through every window. It is also nestled right in the middle of the Wild Pacific Trail, basically an ancient rainforest is on your doorstep. And the best part, both the beach and the trails were accessible right from the hotel property and easy to access with both dog and baby (in fact some of the trails were even stroller friendly).
As for the accommodations, they were pretty special. Again rooms either have an ocean or rainforest view and we were lucky we had a bit of both. There was also lots of space so that we could put the baby to sleep while still staying up. And lastly there were dog treats for Huey when we arrived.
Top family friendly activities in Ucluelet
Alright let’s get to the good part – what makes Ucluelet so fun for the whole family to enjoy? Well we covered a lot in our 3 days – and all of it was family friendly ( although we had to leave Huey behind for a few food experiences).
1. Go for a treat at Zoe’s Bakery
When I asked for suggestions of what to do in Ucluelet literally everyone messaged me that I needed to visit Zoe’s bakery and cafe and so I set out on a mission the first day we were there to beat the crowds (I heard it could get quite busy and I wanted to make sure I got the best treats). Zoe actually used to work at the Black Rock before opening up the bakery – and let me tell you – these treats were well worth the early start to the day.
2. Treat yourself again with a day at the spa
Ok, this one isn’t completely family friendly – but we do have a baby that loves the water -and the Black Rock is home to two hot tubs and one pool. So while I wasn’t able to indulge in a spa treatment this time (which I have heard is spectacular), I was able to enjoy the pool with my little one – and let me tell you the views from the spa area are worth it – even if it’s just for a quick dip
3. Visit the beach
While you can see the beach from literally every room in the resort, it is so much fun to go down and check it out. You won’t find the sandy beaches here (for that you have to travel a bit closer to Tofino) but it was so fun to go out and see the rocks up close and keep our eyes open for some tiny creatures that call them home.
5. Go for a hike
It is so special to be surrounded by such beautiful nature. One of the things I love about this part of the world Pacific Rim National Park. You will feel so small amongst the giant trees that call this rainforest home. We did a few different hikes and really loved both the Wild Pacific Trails just outside the hotel as well as Lighthouse Loop (we took the stroller so we didn’t break our backs and there were so many gorgeous viewpoints along the way).
4. Enjoy the culinary scene
I have always been impressed with the food on this part of the island and Ucluelet did not disappoint. Some of our favourite eats included
Heartwood Kitchen : This adorable renovated cottage made you feel right at home – even though our son decided to have a meltdown, the staff was still so kind and welcoming and the food was delicious. Casual bistro style foods.
West Coast Salty Buns:We stumbled upon this adorable Mexican food truck famous for their well, salty buns. The food was so flavourful and later I learned that they really pride themselves on sourcing local products, no wonder it all tasted to fresh. A must do lunch spot.
Currents Restaurant:Talk about dinner with a view. This restaurant is located in the Black Rock Resort overlooking the ocean. Try and book in for around sunset to get an incredible show while eating a tasty meal.
Abbondanza: If you are a fan of pizza you need to make a stop here. I had the best fungi pizza of my life! A very small hole in the wall spot so we decided to order out, but as a self proclaimed pizza connoisseur this is a must! Even the locals say so.
5. Visit the aquarium
The Ucluelet Aquarium is a none for profit catch and release aquarium that focuses on education. All of the displays here are with marine life found right in the local waters in Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds. The staff there is also so helpful and ready to answer any questions. While Max was still very young he really did enjoy watching the fish swim and I enjoyed learning about this amazing program.
6. End the day with a local beer
The Ucluelet Brewing Company is situated right on the water so it offers a gorgeous view with some tasty local craft brews. As someone who isn’t a big beer drinker I really appreciated the staff helping me find some drinks I would enjoy – and guess what they are baby friendly too. Max had a great nap while mom and dad enjoyed a drink after a long day of exploring!
I absolutely loved the laid back and welcoming feel of Ucluelet and I can’t wait to head back to this magical place with the family again soon.
Happy traveling my friends,