Canada – Ucluelet, Vancouver Island – July 2018

Ucluelet lies on the west coast Pacific Rim of Vancouver Island which itself lies off the coast of Vancouver, just about as far west as you can get into the Pacific. The island is largely covered in temperate rainforest and with very towns of any size, it means there is a lot of wilderness country.

Industries on the island are logging, fishing, tourism and in the capital Victoria, a growing technology industry. Ucluelet is a commercial fishery with a population of less than 2,000, is a commercial fishery but is it’s a small quiet town where tourism is low key compared to it’s nearest neighbouring town Tofino, half an hour north which is very much geared up for tourism and is apparently much more touristic. The place is popular with fisherman, walkers, surfers and storm watchers and it has plenty of interesting history for the reader who cares to search for it.

We stayed in a beautiful apartment on Ucluelet’s small boat harbour only yards from the waterfront.

Our apartment was in this harbourside block. Timber built like most buildings in Canada outside the big cities – but sprinkler protected (a nod to my pre-travelling life!)



This was probably our best rental property in over 3 years of travel


And rooms with views



These otter photos were taken from our balcony



as was this picture of 3 bald eagles circling above…..





Here are some pictures of the town itself. There are several tired looking motels with a few better quality hotels on the edge of town. Otherwise the town comprises a collection of timber  buildings, mostly very ordinary. There’s a handful of eateries, the best one prohibitively expensive and a couple of food wagons, one selling fish and other chips and other delights, the second one majoring in oysters! Jiggers Fish and Chips van is actually the number one eatery on Tripadvisor – very good fresh fish and fries. There’s also a couple of Liquor Stores, a few tourist tat shops and a Fish Guiding company or two. A fairly large Coop Store satisfies most day to day shopping needs. All in all, plenty to satisfy our needs for our 5 nights here. Oh, and there’s a small church for those that need it!




Did I mention that one of the great things here in Canada is the availability of excellent craft beer – its everywhere !


The Wild Pacific Trail

This trail is a must-do when in this area. It’s 8km in total but can be done by way of several shorter walks. There are numerous look-outs, each one with a bench so you can sit and enjoy the views. Absolutely stunning scenery.

This really is a wild coast famous for spectacular salmon and halibut fishing. It’s also famous for its violent storms and many come on holiday to Ucluelet for storm watching!









This area is part of the Graveyard of the Pacific, a stretch of the coastal region in the Pacific Northwest, from the Oregon Coast northward to Vancouver Island. The unpredictable weather conditions and coast characteristics have caused more than 2,000 shipwrecks in this area and there are still ship wrecks at the bottom of the sea in this area. The lighthouse below (or it’s storm wrecked predecessors) was built by popular demand.





Archipelago Wildlife Cruise


This was a great day out with a Canadian Skipper and his South African wife on their beautifully fitted out luxury boat. We chose this tour above others because of its great reviews and reputation as one of  the best tours in Canada let alone Vancouver Island. About 20 of us enjoyed the day which took us into the Broken Islands Group and Barkley Sound to see bags of wildlife (although sadly no whales), with a lovely gourmet lunch served with a glass of wine. Very nice indeed and highly recommended.




We saw this deer grazing in the harbour within minutes of setting off on our cruise.


And this bald eagle was sat on a buoy at the harbour entrance eating scraps taken from fish trimmings discarded by a nearby fish processing plant. During the day we saw dozens of bald eagles and several nests.





A pair of juvenile bald eagles spotted high in a tree top.



We watched this sea otter for 10 minutes or so.  He was lying on his back and occasionally diving for sea urchins which he chomped on whilst we watched. You can just see the spines of a sea urchin in his paws.





This is where we parked up for lunch – a nice spot!


Once anchored up at lunch time the Captain put out a couple of humming bird feeders. Seems the birds don’t always turn up but we must have seen over a dozen.



Seals and Sea Lions

I confess that theses creatures weren’t top of our must sees. After all, harbour seals are commonly seen in many places around the UK let alone overseas. However, to see these animals in big numbers  on tiny islands way out in the Pacific Ocean is something special. And its not just the sights, the noise made by a big group of sea lions constantly fighting and bickering with each other is impressive.






There are a number of companies who specialise in whale watching tours operating out of Ucluelet but the numbers of whales visiting the area have reduced considerably over the past several years for reasons unknown. These various operators share information and whale sightings in real time and around lunch time we did get a message of a spotting. Unfortunately the whale was out of our range and in fact none of the operators got to see that whale.

Bears and wolves are commonly seen on Vancouver Island and bears are virtually always seen on this tour. Bears are even seen in the town on occasion but this  turned out to be a bad bear day and we spent quite some time searching out bears along the shore. Finally, a young adult black bear was spotted. Unfortunately it wasn’t the biggest bear and we couldn’t get very near to the shore due to rocks but we did manage to get one photograph! Our final spot of the day !


This really was a memorable day and one of the highlights of our Canada trip to date.We were blessed with good weather which was more than lucky as we booked this trip several months previously. Especially lucky as the following day there was serious rain which likely resulted in the cancellation of the cruise that day.

After 5 nights in Ucluelet, we left on July 6th for Victoria, south Vancouver Island.










Canada – Vancouver – June 2018





Totem poles greet you at Arrivals in Vancouver Airport


We arrived in Vancouver from Turkey on 24 June 2018. It was a long trip and arriving at our hotel around 11pm, we were more than ready for bed – almost! We popped out for a craft beer night cap and felt much better for it. A good start! The following morning we were up bright and early feeling fresh and full of beans – but our energy soon waned and it took a few days to get over our long journey .

We didn’t have the best of weather for our week in Vancouver but we didn’t have that much rain. The week was mainly cloudy with a few half days of lovely sunshine – it was never cold.

Here are a few pictures of downtown and around. The main shopping streets are smart and  filled with the top brands and lots of nice bars and restaurants and the waterfront area in particular is very attractive. But, like every major city,  you don’t need to wander far from the smart areas before you find yourself in some pretty sketchy areas. There are many homeless people here and you see them sleeping on the streets everywhere. And inevitably there is a drink/drugs problem and on several occasions we saw guys totally comatose lying in the middle of the pavement in a busy shopping street with shoppers and workers just walking around them! Pretty grim!

Cannabis is legal here by the way. It’s legal and supposedly regulated and there are many shops around town selling the stuff. The smell of weed is everywhere in the city – I must confess I rather like the smell as it brings back memories  but Ann certainly doesn’t! Its hard to think this freedom of use doesn’t  lead to some of the abuse problems.






This is apparently the only permanent rainbow crossing in the world – slap bang in the middle of Davey Village where we were staying. This was a great place to stay – very handy for what we considered the 2 main attractions of Vancouver, Granville Island and Stanley Park and easy to get to Downtown and the main shopping areas. But there’s definitely an edge to the area with some “interesting” characters. It all adds to the attraction for me.




Vancouver is a super expensive place to live and to take a holiday. As you would expect there are many high end retailers such as this around but interestingly, as we saw recently in Florence and Venice recently, the customers frequenting and buying are very largely Asian tourists, mainly Chinese.

Stanley Park

This is North America’s third-largest park and draws eight million visitors per year, many of whom cycle, skate or walk past you on the Seawall, a scenic, 5.5-mile path running around the park which is surrounded on three sides by water. It’s fabulous that this is right next to the city centre, a brilliant resource for the populace which has many attractions including an Aquarium, walking trails, a mini train, places to eat, totem poles and places galore to enjoy a picnic. 
We had expected to spend a day or more in the Park but sadly the weather put paid to this and in the end we only managed a quick circuit of the circumference of the  park one morning before an afternoon in the pub watching World Cup footy on the TV! Belgium 1 England 0  ….

The white “sails” seen in the distance are those at the Canada Place complex around 5km away.



These seaplanes are landing and taking off constantly


A dragons head “totem” – we have yet to discover its significance. The bridge in the background is at Stanley Park’s northernmost point, Prospect Point. This is Lions Gate Bridge which joins Vancouver with North Vancouver and is the main route over to Whistler and other points north



No it isn’t a mermaid. It’s a statue of a girl in a wetsuit – an iconic Vancouver statue. The scene behind is the city of North Vancouver across Vancouver Harbour



Glanville Island

The island is situated south of Vancouver city and separated from it by a body of water known as False Creek. It is reached from the city centre by public ferries but in truth this is is actually a peninsular rather than an island and can be accessed by car on the side furthermost from the city. With the waterfront lined with condos, restaurants and more, this is a fab and vibrant area to visit. We loved it!

The island  was once an industrial area but was left to become derelict for many years until the art community started to renovate and move into some of the buildings. The regeneration continued and it’s now one of the top attractions of Vancouver with a famous ‘must visit’ daily fresh market with lots of special products – pies, confectionery etc and plenty of cafes and restaurants selling food of all kinds with several having tables overlooking the waterfront.

Quite apart from food, there is a brewery here, one of many micro breweries in town. But Glanville Island isn’t all about food and drink. There are galleries galore here in and around the market and at least two theatres, one of which we visited to see an excellent Irish musical, Once! One of the best shows Ive ever seen!

Granville Island is reached from the Downtown area by one of these little ferries that go back and forth all day


























We enjoyed our first Canadian fish and chips at Tony’s Fish and Oyster Cafe – excellent it was too!



False Creek and Glanville Island at night



Gastown Area

This is an area full of history worth looking at if you are planning a visit.

Gastown is the original settlement of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Today, it’s a national historic site, at the northeast end of Downtown Vancouver, adjacent to the Downtown Eastside. Gastown is a mix of “hip” contemporary fashion and interior furnishing boutiques, tourist-oriented businesses, restaurants and nightclubs. Poverty is evident alongside upscale housing.

The area became known as Gastown because the first saloon here was started by Jack Deighton, known as “Gassy Jack” because he loved to talk — apparently for hours. There’s a statue to him shown below.



Underneath Vancouver there runs a series of steam pipes connected to a generating plant that provides heat to most of  downtown Vancouver and provides the steam for the whistles of the Gastown steam clock shown below. This clock isn’t as old as it looks – it was built in 1977 and whistles on the hour to tell the time.






Canada Place

This is a landmark and iconic venue on Vancouver waterfront. Major events take place here although unfortunately there were none during our visit. Cruise ships arrive and leave from here and there are many such cruises with most seemingly headed for Alaska. This area is always busy and a great place to people watch and happily we had decent weather on the day we visited.







North Vancouver and Lynn Canyon

We were really looking forward to a trip across the river to North Vancouver. In the event, we woke up to rain on the day of our visit and almost canned the idea of a visit but decided to go as we could least have a look at the public market and maybe have lunch at Lonsdale Quay Public Market.









The market was OK but not nearly so large and impressive as Glanville Market. Having walked around we decided to go back to Vancouver but as we neared the ferry we noticed a bus heading for Lynn Canyon and despite the drizzle we decided to jump on board to have a quick look.

Thankfully the rain stopped by the time we got to Lynne Canyon and we managed a quick look at the Park Information Lodge and a short walk across the suspension bridge and along one of the trails for half an hour or so. This is a beautiful area and we were a bit gutted we couldn’t do one of the day long trails in the area. Hey ho, it was back to the transit centre for the return ferry – but not before a quick pint of excellent IPA in the Green Leaf Brewing Co. Back in Vancouver, lunch was our first Indian meal for some time in the excellent Salam Bombay restaurant on the second floor of a non descriptive office block – a great place for people watching especially as were directly opposite the Tiffany Store which provided us with an amusing game of will she/won’t she buy something. We could actually see the customers entering the store and then making their purchases inside – many did within the space of an hour and a half or so – and we were not surprised to see that the buyers were mainly Chinese.









Yours truly facing a potentially vertiginous situation crossing the suspension bridge 50 metres above a raging river and even managing a smile – sort of !



The end of a fabulous week came all too soon. A week just wasn’t enough for us although it might well be too much for others. We shall just have to return one day.

Next stop Ucluelet on the West coast of Vancouver Island!