Orcas Vancouver Island, Photo Destination BC Reuben Krabbe

Bamfield

Bamfield is a small coastal community tucked away in the magnificent Pacific Rim National Park and although it may seem a long journey, once here you will realize it was well worth the trip. The stunning scenery surrounds you and won’t want to let you go. More than 100 rocky islands and islets make up the archipelago of the Broken Group Islands in Barkley Sound. These pristine islands can only be reached by boat and are popular with experienced ocean kayakers. The rich and abundant marine life, as well as the many old shipwrecks, makes this area a top spot for diving. Guided tours for kayaking, diving, and boating are recommended in these waters. Barkley Sound offers more tyees (salmon) than anywhere on the west coast. As well halibut and cod promise thrilling catches. The Broken Group Islands and Bamfield Harbour also offer good angling for salmon, rockfish, and halibut. Grey whales, Humpback and Killer whales migrate through the coastal waters, and porpoises, seals, sea lions, and elephant seals can be viewed along the coastline.  The northern terminus of the world-famous West Coast Trail is located at Pachena Bay, 3 kilometres (2 miles) south of Bamfield. The trail is a 7 to 10-day adventure trek that draws hikers from around the world. For something slower-paced, stroll along the boardwalk in Bamfield and watch the boats go by.

Location

Bamfield is located in the heart of the Pacific Rim National Park on the west coast of Vancouver Island, 89 km (56 mi) southwest of Port Alberni and 123 km (77 mi) northwest of Lake Cowichan. Bamfield is reached from either of two directions, both of which require several hours of driving on good gravel logging roads. You can drive to Bamfield on paved highway via Highway 4 from the east as far as Port Alberni, and thereafter on well-maintained gravel roads south of Port Alberni to Bamfield; or along the route west of Lake Cowichan via Nitinat Lake. The M.V. Lady Rose also provides passenger ferry service from Port Alberni to Bamfield three times a week with additional sailings in the summer months.

A Step Back in Time

Bamfield is populated by the Nuu-Chah-Nulth people, who occupied large villages in the Broken Group and Deer Group Islands and at Execution Rock, Cape Beale and Grappler Inlet. Prior to contact with Europeans, the native population of Barkley Sound is estimated to have been between 3,000 and 5,000. Village sites, middens, fish traps, culturally modified trees, lookouts and fallen longhouses remain as part of the rich cultural heritage. Europeans founded a small fishing community here sometime in the late 1800s.

Bamfield was named after the first government agent of the area, Edder Banfield. In 1902, the Bamfield Cable station was constructed as the western terminus of a worldwide undersea cable called by some the All Red Line, as it passed only through countries and territories controlled by the British Empire, which were coloured red on the map. The cable initially went to Fanning Island, a tiny coral atoll in the mid-Pacific, and from there continued to Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia. A second building, made of concrete was built on the site in 1926 to replace the old wood structure. This building, designated a historic site in 1930, is now used by the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre. In 1953 the cables were extended up the Alberni Inlet to Port Alberni and the station closed on June 20, 1959.

Commercial fishing was based in Bamfield until the mid 1980s, but today it is home to several sport fishing lodges. Bamfield is also the northern end of the West Coast Trail, a world-famous hiking trail built in 1907 along the west coast of Vancouver Island to help survivors of the area’s many shipwrecks find their way back to civilization. The trail runs 77 km (48 mi) along extremely rugged terrain.

Today Bamfield is primarily a tourist destination, either for the West Coast Trail, ocean kayaking or sport fishing.

Contact Information

Bamfield Chamber of Commerce

Bamfield & Nearby Accommodations

20 Listings

Pachena Bay Campground

Pachena Bay Campground

Bamfield

Pachena Bay Campground is nestled in an old-growth rainforest next to an expansive, sandy beach that directly faces the open Pacific Ocean. The campground has been smartly upgraded to welcome RVs, campers and tenting. ... Read more
Terrace Beach Resort

Terrace Beach Resort

Ucluelet

Nestled amongst the ancient trees in the Pacific National Park Reserve, our waterfront accommodation is the ideal destination to explore the beauty of nature. Situated on the shores of Terrace Beach, guests are spoiled to beautiful views and scenic trails. Stroll along the cliffs to the renowned Amp ... Read more
Reef Point Cottages

Reef Point Cottages

Ucluelet

Reef Point Cottages, where the west coast rain forest meets the mighty Pacific Ocean, is located on the West Coast of Vancouver Island in Ucluelet, British Columbia, Canada. Reef Point Cottages offer an exciting, intimate and self-indulgent experience for those who want to explore what British Colum ... Read more
A Snug Harbour Inn

A Snug Harbour Inn

Ucluelet

Located in the small fishing village of Ucluelet just south of Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island this luxury oceanfront bed & breakfast has been selected by TripAdvisor as one of Canada’s top 25 B&B’s. Ideally situated on the Wild Pacific Trail, A Snug Harbour Inn is also conveniently ... Read more
West Coast Motel on the Harbour

West Coast Motel on the Harbour

Ucluelet

Centrally located at Ucluelet Small Craft Harbour, enjoy breathtaking views of the harbour and ocean while staying at West Coast Motel. We provide comfortable and clean accommodation for guests to have a peaceful stay. Suitable for couples, families or groups, we guarantee your stay with us will be ... Read more
Canadian Princess Lodge & Marina

Canadian Princess Lodge & Marina

Ucluelet

On the rugged shores of Ucluelet near the most spectacular beaches on Canada’s west coast, The Canadian Princess Lodge is a base for all things wild. The west coast of Vancouver Island, the very core of the Pacific Rim, draws adventurers, surfers, explorers, and hikers to its beautifully rough set ... Read more
Waters Edge Shoreside Suites

Waters Edge Shoreside Suites

Ucluelet

Discover your inner islander and witness the invigorating waters of the Pacific Ocean at your doorstep. While not exploring the beautiful scenery, relax in the quiet warmth of your suite’s soaker tub or borrow of one our many board games or books. Settle in by the fire as you admire one of the Wes ... Read more
Ucluelet Campground

Ucluelet Campground

Ucluelet

Offering breathtaking views of Ucluelet Harbour, it’s easy to sit back and relax at Ucluelet Campground. We provide a variety of exclusive sites, ranging from harbour and mountains views to semi-private forested sites. Situated on over 15 acres, our property is decorated with lush trees and vegeta ... Read more
Surf Junction Campground

Surf Junction Campground

Ucluelet

Affordable woodland luxury 1 km from Pacific Rim National Park. Private wooded campsites and full service RV sites. We offer surf lessons, surf rentals, tour bookings, adventure packages available. Check our web site. Amenities include hot tub, sauna, hot showers, flush toilets, camp store, espresso ... Read more
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve - Green Point Campground

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve - Green Point Campground

Ucluelet

Poised on the bluffs above Long Beach, Green Point Campground features 94 vehicle drive-in campsites, 20 walk-in campsitesand a group campsite. Pacific Rim is known for long sandy beaches and lush coastal temperate rainforests. Green Point Campground fills every night during high season, and reserva ... Read more
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Travel Spotlight
Camping Lodging

The Super Camping / Select Lodging Guide

First Published in 1989