Last updated on March 1st, 2024 at 01:23 pm
Affiliate Disclosure: This Ucluelet things to do post contains affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. All opinions are entirely my own.
THINGS TO DO IN UCLUELET – INTRODUCTION
I’m not going to lie. The first time we booked a hotel in Ucluelet, it was because our first choice, the nearby town of Tofino, was fully booked. Like many visitors before us, we had fallen head-over-heels in love with Tofino’s laid back surfer vibe, beautiful beaches, stunning ancient forests and amazing, locally-sourced culinary fare.
We weren’t alone. Almost everyone falls in love with that magical little town on the west coast of Vancouver Island. And with it being such a popular spot, hotel prices could sometimes hit stratospheric levels.
Despite it initially being a second choice, we were quite quickly charmed by Ucluelet (or “Ukee” as the locals call it), and have since returned several times. We enjoy poking around the pretty little harbour and sampling the small, but varied assortment of restaurants. We applaud the community-driven catch and release aquarium, and can’t get enough of the wildlife-viewing from the stunning coastal trails.
Furthermore, the drive from Ucluelet to Tofino only takes about 4o minutes (40k). The main road runs along the coast of the Pacific Ocean and is dotted with wonderful places to stop. You can make a day trip to Tofino, and then wind your way back to Ucluelet, making stops at the various gorgeous beaches and forest trails along the way.
So, with no further ado, if you are looking for the top things to do in Ucluelet – you will find it all here! Want a sneak peek first? Check out this reel.
THE 12 BEST THINGS TO DO IN UCLUELET
THE UCLUELET AQUARIUM
In my opinion, The Ucluelet Aquarium is exactly what a modern day aquarium should look like. All the sea creatures on display are found in B.C.’s coastal waters and it is run more like an educational facility than an attraction.
Specimens are carefully collected and kept only for a season, with members of the community getting involved for their release back into the ocean.
WILD PACIFIC TRAIL UCLUELET
One of the most popular things to do in Ucluelet (a must-do!) is to explore the Wild Pacific Trail network.
The trails are well groomed (most are stroller friendly) and you can choose from three options: The Ucluelet Lighthouse Loop (2.6km), Big Beach to Rocky Bluffs (5km), and the Ancient Cedars Trail (a 15-20 minute stroll perfect for the non-hiker).
Note: The Lighthouse Loop has paved wheelchair access to the Amphitrite Point Lighthouse, and beyond with an off-road model (smooth – no stairs).
For more information see the Wild Pacific Trail website.
Some of the most stunning beaches in Canada are found between Ucluelet and Tofino. Within a 15 minute walk of town, you can enjoy amazing sunsets at Big Beach. Terrace Bay and Little Beach are also nearby and worth exploring.
Heading up towards Tofino, the coast is basically lined with gorgeous sand beaches including Long Beach, Cox Bay, Mackenzie Beach, Chesterman Beach and more. You just can’t really go wrong.
Note: Be sure to take a peek in the tidal pools (especially at Chesterman Beach) where you will find some of the most amazing anemones!
EAT GREAT FOOD
For such a small town, Ucluelet has excellent food. Starting with the most casual, you can’t go wrong with Ukee Poke, Flaca’s Tacos, West Coast Salty Buns (Burritos, Bowls & Bites) and Jiggers (Fish and Chips).
For tasty BBQ and burgers, be sure to try Frankie’s Reso-Bar. I’d love to tell you how delicious Abbondanza’s pizza is…but I can’t. The wait for a take out pie was 2.5 hours (but a fellow diner swore it was worth it). I suggest going at opening and dining in (the tables seem to be their priority).
For something a little more upscale, The Heartwood Kitchen serves up beautiful seafood and other west coast fare.
We’ve also enjoyed a brilliant tasting-style meal at the much-lauded Pluvio Restaurant. The chef of Pluvio is formerly of Le Crocodile and The Pointe at The Wickaninnish. The restaurant was awarded place #33 on the 2023 list of Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants.
KAYAKING IN UCLUELET
Ucluelet’s sheltered harbour is the perfect place to begin a kayaking adventure! You don’t have to go far to see bald eagles, otters, seals, sea lions, and at low tide, sometimes even black bears.
Hello Nature Adventure Tours offers kayak rentals as well as guided kayak tours around Barkley Sound, the Broken Group Islands and Clayoquot Sound.
Learn more on the Hello Nature website.
WHALE WATCHING UCLUELET
Ucluelet whale watching trips conveniently leave right from the main harbour. Depending on the season, grey whales, humpback whales, and orcas can be spotted.
See options with Cameron’s Ocean Adventures. This company also offer fishing charters during the Chinook and Coho salmon runs.
Jamie’s Whaling Station offers whale watching and wildlife viewing adventures. Both Zodiac and cabin cruiser trips are typically offered.
If you are driving into Ucluelet, you will pass right by WestCoast Wild Zipline about 45 minutes before you arrive at your destination. This adrenalin-inducing activity could be the perfect way to liven up a travel day.
PACIFIC RIM NATIONAL PARK RESERVE
Explore the beautiful trails and beaches of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, which is located just north of Ucluelet. The Rainforest Trail offers an immersive experience in the lush coastal rainforest, and the Long Beach unit is perfect for beachcombing and watching the sunset.
Tofino Trails website is a great resource for finding the p
Within 15 minutes of Ucluelet you will find numerous places to ride such as Florencia Bay, Wickaninnish Bay and Long Beach. Continue north towards Tofino and you have several more options including Cox Bay, Mackenzie Beach and North Chesterman.
BIKING IN UCLUELET
While some hotels have bikes available for guest use, E-bikes, cruisers and mountain bikes can be rented from Ukee Bikes.
There is a bike path along the road (and winding in and out of the forest) that runs almost continuously from Ucluelet to Tofino. What’s even better? It’s flat!
THORNTON CREEK FISH HATCHERY
Looking for a budget-friendly way to go bear watching in Ucluelet? In late September and October, Chinook salmon return to spawn at Thornton Creek, making it a great place to see feeding bears. The Thornton Creek Hatchery has built a safe viewing platform for guests (surrounded by an electric fence).
Please keep in mind that this is not primarily a tourist attraction, but rather a working hatchery that has allowed guests access to bear viewing. Please be respectful of the rules (no dogs, no food etc.) and don’t forget to make a donation.
For more information see the Thornton Creek Hatchery on Facebook.
RECORD THOSE MEMORIES
When do you have time to get perfect vacation photos? I know that I for one, as the photographer in our family, am almost never in the photos.
To remedy this situation, I have used the company Flytographer on several occasions to get some great family shots while on vacation.
Here’s how it works. You head over to the Flytographer website and select a photographer whose style suits you. You then choose a suitable photoshoot package (starting from $285 USD for a 30 min. photoshoot).
The whole process is super easy and I can’t imagine a better backdrop than the wild Pacific Coast of British Columbia.
HOT DEAL! From March 1-31, 2024 if you use my discount code MYSHOOT, you will receive $50 off your first Flytographer booking or gift card purchase. (After March 31st the discount code will return to $25 off.)
For more Ucluelet attractions, activities and upcoming events, please see the Discover Ucluelet website.
If you are looking for a great place to stay in Ucluelet, please see our post on a the best accommodations in Ucluelet.
WHAT TO DO IN UCLUELET IN THE RAIN
If you want to know what to do in Ucluelet when it rains, I suggest you embrace it. Put on a raincoat and get outside! It’s part of the temperate rainforest experience!
Alternatively, you could pop into Tofino to do a little shopping and gallery-hopping. There are many talented artisans around Tofino and Ucluelet.
As one last suggestion, book a surf lesson. You won’t even notice the rain once you hit the water.
HOW TO GET TO UCLUELET
Like many special places, Ucluelet takes a little while to get to but is well worth the journey.
If you are coming by car from Vancouver (5-6 hrs) or Seattle (8 hrs), be sure to make an advance ferry reservation to get to Vancouver Island. From Victoria, it is a 4.5 hour drive north-west.
You can fly into to Tofino from RIchmond/Vancouver via seaplane or conventional airplane. Car rentals are available at the airport.
Please also see Discover Ucluelet getting here page for driving instructions and for current flight options.