Ucluelet from Wild Pacific Trail off terrace Beach, Photo Destination BC Mike Seehagel

Travel Spotlight

Ucluelet

Ucluelet is situated on the stunning west coast of the Pacific Ocean on Vancouver Island. It’s positioned in the famous Pacific Rim National Park that encompasses a total area of almost 50,000 hectares of land and ocean known as Long Beach, the Broken Group Islands and the West Coast Trail makes it an excellent destination. Miles of sandy beaches and pounding surf that attract thousands to experience the rolling swells that make it a perfect spot for those who love to ride the waves. The most popular beaches, and the most accessible from Ucluelet, are Wickaninnish Beach and Long Beach. Sport fishing, whale watching, nature cruises, hiking, kayaking, beach combing, and eco-tourism abound.

There are also attractions to visit.  At the interactive Ucluelet Aquarium you will see examples of fascinating marine life all of which are gathered from local waters near Ucluelet and released back into the wild at the end of each season. The region inspires hundreds of artists along the west coast of Vancouver Island. Spend time in one of the many art galleries and shops in Ucluelet, showcasing local photography, paintings, drawings, carvings, glass art, weaving, tapestries, pottery, and jewellery. Home to the Nuu-chah-nulth people, the west coast showcases legendary First Nations carvers, weavers, and painters as they create traditional art. Relax on the beach and watch the world go by and plan for a return trip in the winter to do some storm watching.

A wide shot of the Reef Point Cottages in Ucluelet.

Location

Ucluelet is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It is 26 km (16 mi) south of Tofino, 100 km (62 mi) west of Port Alberni and 180 km (112 mi) northwest of Nanaimo on the east coast. From Nanaimo head north and exit west on Highway 4, Pacific Rim Highway, towards Port Alberni, Tofino and Ucluelet.

A Step Back in Time

Ucluelet is a Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation word meaning ‘safe harbour’ or ‘safe landing place’. Archaeological evidence indicates First Nations have lived here for at least 4,300 years.

European explorers first set foot in the Ucluelet area in 1778 when Captain James Cook arrived. Captain James Barkley followed in 1787 in search of sea otter pelts. Settlement didn’t start until the late 1800s when Captain Francis, the owner of several sealing schooners, established a trading post.

The discovery of gold around 1900 at nearby Wreck Bay (also called Florencia Bay) brought more settlers to the area. But pursuing the gold commercially eventually proved impractical. Mining again figured prominently in Ucluelet’s economy in the early 1960s when iron concentrates were shipped to Japan and Ucluelet became the largest shipper of iron concentrates in British Columbia.

The turn of the 20th century also brought development of a fishing industry and with it more people settled in Ucluelet. The predominant species were salmon, halibut, cod, and herring. As a result of the increasing catch, canneries, fish buying stations, reduction plants, and processing facilities were added to the area’s infrastructure. Fishing really started to realize its potential after World War I. Japanese fishermen from Steveston settled around 1920. The introduction of their salmon trolling method also helped the fishing industry grow.

Forestry figures prominently in much of Ucluelet’s history and lifestyle but logging really started to dominate in the 1950s. For close to 40 years forestry provided families in Ucluelet with a reliable and relatively prosperous income. Like fishing, however, forestry has its ups and downs; dependent on market conditions and dependent on environmental concerns.

The gradual establishment of road access to and from the area greatly influenced the community’s history. During World War II a road was built connecting Ucluelet and its sea plane base with Tofino to the northwest. The road was built, principally to provide access to the military airport at the mid-way point at Long Beach. In 1959 the road to Port Alberni, 100 km (62 mi) to the east was finally opened.

Today, close to one million people visit the West Coast each year.

Contact Information

Discover Ucluelet

Ucluelet & Nearby Accommodations

19 Listings

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
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
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
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
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Travel Spotlight
Camping Lodging

The Super Camping / Select Lodging Guide

First Published in 1989