Clayoquot Recreation OVERVIEWThe Clayoquot region offers many recreational opportunities, including 16 provincial parks and two Ecological Reserves. The most visited park is the spectacular Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, a world-class tourism attraction with miles of open, sandy beaches. A network of 9 hiking trails runs through Pacific Rim Park, showcasing the ecological diversity of the region. Recreational activities include sportfishing, sea-kayaking, whale-watching, surfing, diving, camping, and beachcombing. Storm-watching is becoming a popular winter activity. Abundant sea life such as whales, sea lions and seals draw nature lovers and photographers. A golf course, boat launch and airstrip are also located within the Park Reserve.
The rich cultural heritage of First Nations is evident throughout the region, with galleries and interpretation centres to inspire the curious.
The fishing village of Tofino located at the southern border of Clayoquot Sound is a mecca for west coast tourists, and has many services such as lodging, restaurants, guiding and charters. The Tofino area has approximately 1500 accommodation units, as well as many vacation rentals; the Clayoquot region sees the most tourism on the West Coast during the summer months.
Hot Springs Cove is a popular destination in Clayoquot Sound. A 2.4-kilometre boardwalk through the rainforest allows access to the natural springs. Hot Springs Cove is only accessible by air (15 minute floatplane charter) or by boat (one and one-half hour water taxi) from Tofino.
The parks in Clayoquot Sound lie in the traditional territories of the Hesquiaht, Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations. Access to designated Indian Reserves is prohibited unless prior permission has been granted.
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve information:
Long Beach (summer only) - 250 726-4212
Administration Office (year-round) - 250 726-7721
Sportfishing: Unlike Barkley Sound where much of the fishing is done in open offshore water, Clayoquot offers large areas of protected water that is suitable for smaller open boats. The main run of migratory Chinook salmon begins offshore in early April; by July, large Chinook are found in protected inshore waters. Chinook fishing peaks in August. Coho salmon appear offshore in May, and by early June larger Coho are found inshore. Large Northern Coho are found in the area during September, peaking by mid-October. Offshore Halibut is best during May and June. Rockfish and Lingcod are plentiful in the inshore water, although closures and limitations are in effect for these species. Steelhead salmon is fished on the coastal streams in Clayoquot Sound. October through early December sees summer/fall run Steelhead; fresh run spring Steelhead starts in early March and runs through late April.
Current fishing regulations available at: Department of Fisheries and Oceans - Pacific Region
Sea kayaking: Clayoquot Sound is known as a world-class kayaking destination. Inshore waters exposed to open ocean conditions contain numerous islets and rocky reefs, as well as channels partly bounded and protected by land. Kayakers can explore Meares Island, near Tofino, or follow the coastline along Flores and Vargas Islands, a summer feeding ground for the grey whale. A further destination is Hot Springs Cove Provincial Park, located at the north end of Clayoquot Sound. There are a growing number of local guides and outfitters to service this promising sector in the tourism market for Clayoquot region.
Whale-watching: Orcas (killer whales), Humpback and Gray Whales frequent the waters of the Clayoquot region. Over 26,000 gray whales pass by Clayquot Sound on their journey from Mexico to Alaska in March and April. Porpoises, harbour seals and Stellar sea lions are also found throughout these waters.
Hiking: There are many hiking opportunities throughout the Clayoquot region, including:
Big Cedar Trail (moderate; 3-km loop) on Meares Island, where hikers can experience being in a pristine, temperate rainforest. Reaching the trailhead on Meares Island requires a 10-minute water-taxi ride from the government wharf in Tofino. Transportation (and, if desired, a guided tour) may be arranged with the NTC Booking and InfoCentre, (800) 665-9425.
Ahousaht Wild Side Heritage Trail (moderate; 32 km return) on Flores Island. This trail links the Nuu-chah-nulth community of Ahousaht with the white-sand beaches on the island's south and west sides as it traverses the slopes of Mount Flores. Information is available by calling the Nuu-chah-nulth Booking and InfoCentre, (800) 665-9425, in Tofino.
Ahous Trail ( 5 km return) An old telegraph trail which runs the width of Vargas Island between its east and west coasts. The Ahous Trail ( 5 km return) begins behind the Vargas Island Inn, winds through tussock bogs and to the beach along the outer coast.
Clayoquot Valley Witness Trail (strenuous; 58 km return) The trail through the rainforests of the Kennedy Lake watershed begins a short distance west of Hwy 4 and is best done in a south-to-north direction. Hikers should come well prepared for a minimum four-day excursion.To receive a copy of the trail map complete with detailed directions, contact the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, (800) 661-9453
Diving: The open ocean and sheltered inlets of Clayoquot Sound are famous to divers world wide. They offer great visibility, marine life and underwater landscape. The temperate waters offer incredible visibility to spot the elusive six-gill sharks, one of the few areas they are readily found.
Surfing: The sandy beaches of the Clayoquot region offer good surfing for all levels of ability. Summer is the most popular time of year for surfing, with waves breaking mainly in and around the Pacific Rim National park. The cold waters require wetsuits of 5mm neoprene or more. Surfing beaches are often unprotected, so knowledge of the currents and local hazards is essential - this information is available at local surf shops and signs posted in locations at Long Beach, in the Park.
Current surf conditions can be viewed on the Aquatic Management Board's webcam, situated on Cox Bay, north of Pacific Rim Park.