If you managed to catch yesterday’s post on Tofino you read all about my struggles to avoid doubling up destinations for the letters T and U. Tired of fighting the alphabet, I decided to embrace the redundancy with a two-part post featuring the wonderful seaside towns of Tofino and Ucluelet on Vancouver Island.
The west coast of Vancouver is a unique combination of tranquil and dramatic. The area’s old growth forests, rocky shoreline, sandy beaches, and abundance of wildlife create a magical quality that visitors immediately notice. Sitting exposed to the elements on the northern edge of Barkley Sound on Vancouver Island’s west coast, Ucluelet is a small community of roughly 1600.
Within the last five years tourism in the Pacific Rim area around Tofino and Ucluelet has spiked, but the increase isn’t completely due to Tofino’s growing reputation as the best place to surf in Canada. In fact there are two growing tourism industries in this small part of Vanvouver Island, surfing and storm watching. As it turns out, the torrential downpours and gale force winds that plague the coastline are actually becoming sought after by tourist.
Storm watching season runs from November to March, when there are usually 10-15 good storms each month; when it comes to storm watching the uglier the weather the better. Unlike surfing, the only requirements of Storm Watching are patience and wonder. Wonder at natures furry, wonder at how the rocky shoreline stands up to the relentless beating of the waves, and wonder at how your hotel hasn’t lifted from it’s foundation like a scene from The Wizard of Oz.
Storm watching is best undertaken from the comfort and safety of an ocean front hotel or bed and breakfast, many of which offer packaged deals during storm watching season. Add a crackling fireplace, warm blanket to snuggle under, and a good book to help pass the time, and all that’s left to do is wait for the weather to turn. More adventurous souls can head out into the raw power of the storm to take in the giant waves and pelting rain first hand.