Jim and I returned home a couple of days ago from nearly three weeks on Vancouver Island, and I wanted to share some of the photos I took on our trip. It was so hard to choose a manageable number from the over two thousand images, but here are some of the highlights.
The first glimpse of the ocean is always special. Yes, we crossed via ferry, but that barely counts! We arrived at Crystal Cove Resort near Tofino on Sunday, May 31, and headed down to the cove a few minutes later.
We even got an extra-special sunset the very first evening. Often the weather there is too rainy to get good sunsets, but this trip we caught several beautiful ones. I’ll spare you photos of them ALL though! (You may thank me now—I took a LOT of sunset photos.)
I always love clambering around on the rocks during low tide. Along this stretch of the west coast, we see a lot of starfish. Jim also found quite a few sand dollars and other cool shells.
On Monday we drove down to Ucluelet to go whale watching with Jamie’s Whaling Station, a three hour trip weaving between the Broken Islands. We didn’t see any whales, but we did see a river otter, a sea otter, a harbor seal, California sea lions, and Stellar sea lions. Jamie’s gives a raincheck if you don’t see whales, so we went again on Wednesday. Skunked again! But we have a raincheck for our next visit to the area, whether it’s next year or in five. Meanwhile, the operator idled the boat close to the sea lion rocks, so that was fun!
After a lunch of fish and chips (twice in three days, lol) we headed east back across the island. There is a lovely little river between Ucluelet and Port Alberni where we stopped to have a look around and take some photos. The water is so turquoise and clear. Absolutely amazing.
Thursday, June 4, we spent the day on the freighter Frances Barkley. This is a working boat that goes down the Alberni inlet to Ucluelet three days a week and to Bamfield three days a week. We chose to go on a Bamfield day. The trip took 3.5 hours each way, with about an hour to walk around Bamfield. Here’s the freighter.
The Frances Barkley stops at various resorts, fishing camps, and remote villages along the way, delivering mail and supplies as well as transporting tourists and locals. We stopped to deliver supplies to Kildonan.
Both Jim and I agree that this day on the freighter was the highlight to that point. We also did see some whale spouts but nothing close up. From Port Alberni, we drove north to Port McNeill on Friday, where we parked the trailer for a week then took day trips from our home base. We stayed at Broughton Straits Regional Campground, paying $25 per night for full hookups with free showers and laundry. No view of the ocean, but we were only three minutes away. (Psst! I love having a personal chef while camping! Just sayin’)
On Sunday we went out with Seasmoke Whale and Sail tours. This was an absolutely amazing day and we would do it again in a heartbeat. The day got off to a good start in that there were two minke whales cavorting near the sailboat while we were still at the wharf!
We poked around the islands in Blackfish Sound, seeing both minke and humpback whales several times, as well as the oft-present seals and sea lions. The highlight definitely was when a humpback rose close to the boat!
For the next few days we explored some of the nearby towns: Telegraph Cove, Port Hardy, Port Alice, Alert Bay, and Sointula. I could show you photos of all of them, but I’ll spare you! We visited Coal Harbour, and would claim it as the #3 highlight day of our trip for several reasons.
1) A local man has created a small museum for the community, which has been a Royal Canadian Air Force base, a mining base, a fishing/whaling base, and more. We really enjoyed wandering through his exhibits and seeing the area history.
2) Jim spent quite a while visiting with this man, who is rebuilding the boat in the background. They talked diesel engines and restoration and all kinds of things.
3) Coal Harbour is now a jumping off spot for tourists and workers. We saw water taxis taking folks to fishing camps and observed two seaplanes land and take off from mere feet away. This was a lot of fun for both of us!
We caught several more beautiful sunsets during these days. One night, just after the sun had fully set, Jim saw spouts a distance from shore. Through the binos we could make out a minke whale. A few minutes later, there was a spout much closer to shore. A whale cruised past very very close to where we were standing, spouting and barely coming out of the water as it fed. We are quite certain it was a gray whale, though it was too dark to get any photos with our (limited) camera. Because it was so close to shore, it didn’t have to dive, so we didn’t get to see a tail that time.
We left our campsite at Port McNeill on Friday, June 12, heading to Sayward, where we camped right at the mouth of Kelsey Bay. Just a few minutes later a cruise ship sailed by through Johnstone Strait!
The next morning I went to the wharf to take a few photos and in came the Orca Chief, a vessel operated by Marine Harvest, a fish farm outfit. We watched while they loaded on a variety of items from food for the camp workers to fish fry from the hatcheries to be grown at the fish farm. It was really interesting to watch.
Saturday we carried on to Campbell River where we indulged in some much-needed shopping, but also went on a couple of walks beside the river, which is a very pretty spot we’ve been to before. Sunday we drove a couple of more hours to Rathtrevor Beach near Nanaimo for our last night on Vancouver Island. Here’s the final sunset shot:
From there we crossed to mainland British Columbia, had lunch with friends in Abbotsford, and camped in the mountains. Tuesday we had lunch with a friend in Osoyoos before continuing back home, where our grandgirls were waiting for hugs… and gifts. 😉
There you have it, the highlights of our vacation. We had a lovely, relaxing time and, in theory, I’m ready to get back to work!