The west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada is famed for its rugged scenery. Big breakers roll in from the Pacific, drawing surfers to Tofino. Hikers test their mettle on the West Coast and Juan de Fuca Trails, which climb up and down steep hills, cross fast flowing streams and trace the edge of beaches. Whale watchers scan the waves from Ucluelet and forest gazers stand in awe of Cathedral Grove and Clayoquot Sound. Kayakers explore Barclay Sound, paddling amongst the shelter of the myriad islands with mountains in the distance, or testing their skills on the swells of the open ocean. Now rowers can experience this Pacific Coast Mountain landscape, on our beautiful BC rowing tour.
Much of our daily rowing takes place in an urban or semi-urban setting, not far from the dock and where we parked our bicycle or car. This rowing adventure takes us into the wilderness, albeit with the comfort of a roof over our heads at night. It takes some effort to get here, but you will be richly rewarded. Our first BC rowing trip will be a test or pilot, as we work with Parks Canada and Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council to add a new way to experience this special part of super, natural British Columbia, but also to experience a very different way to enjoy rowing, a long way from the dock.
Many of our rows will explore the Broken Group Islands, one of three units of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. The National Park Reserve respects the claim to lands and traditional rights of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, who are active partners in the administration of the park and its interpretative programs. An archaeological site on Benson Island, part of the Broken Group Islands, found evidence of human presence dating back more than 5000 years. Native culture remains an essential element in experiencing the west coast of Vancouver Island today, along with stunning scenery and excellent food based on the bounty of salmon and other seafood. As Canadians we are fortunate in our network of exceptional national parks, which we are proud to share with the world. Pacific Rim National Park Reserve offers an exceptional travel experience, and we are thrilled to feature it in our new BC rowing tour.
Note: We are in the process of obtaining the required licences/permits to operate this trip – the trip will be confirmed only when these are obtained.
7 days – 6 nights
USD 2,425 (+ GST 5%)
4 – 9
10 – 25km
Solo / Double / Coxed Quad
Note that water conditions, especially as affected by the wind, as well as weather and tides will determine the exact time and location of the rows. Safety is a priority. Thus, on some days, the actual program may vary from this description. This is also the first time that this BC rowing trip will be run, so is a test or pilot trip. Participants must be flexible and adaptable to changes, as well as being comfortable with and ideally experienced in coastal rowing.
We will leave Victoria mid-morning to first drive the Trans-Canada Highway along the east coast of Vancouver Island before cutting across the island for the west coast. A required stop is Cathedral Grove, where the biggest trees are about 800 years old and measure 75 m (250 ft) in height and 9 m (29 ft) in circumference. We will want to arrive in time to get a walk on Long Beach, which extends for 16 undeveloped km within Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. On one side waves wash in from the Pacific, while the green rain forest edges in on the other side of the beach. Spectacular. We will spend the night in Ucluelet, a laid back fishing town with a surfer, west coast vibe.
An early morning is needed to drive into our launch spot at Secret Beach on Toquart Bay in the northwest corner of Barclay Sound. Our luggage will travel by water taxi to our destination, Sechart Lodge. Non-rowers will also travel by the water taxi to the Lodge, where a kayak will be waiting for them. For the rowers, our route takes us around Stopper Island, which has never been logged, into Mayne Bay, past the light at Lyall Point and amongst the Pinkerton Islands to reach the Lodge. This will be our home for five nights, which we will share with kayakers, cruisers, fisherman and other travellers who have all arrived by water.
For four full days we will explore the islands of the Broken Group, a unit of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Composed of over 100 islands and islets, the park unit is almost 11,000 hectares, of which only 1,350 hectares is land. Many of the islands have lovely beaches where we can land for lunch or a break. There are also lagoons, sandbars, blowholes, arches and saltmarshes, in addition to the forests of tall trees. In tidal pools we can search for bat stars with their bright red or orange arms, or the moon snail, which can be as big as a dinner plate. Archaeological features include stone fish traps, middens as well as more recent evidence of logging and settlement. Each day’s row will be determined by wind, weather and water conditions. The inner islands, such as Hand, Dodd and Nettle, are well within our reach, while on a longer day with good conditions, we might reach some of the outer islands. A culturally and spiritually significant destination is Benson Island. The Tseshaht First Nation considers this site to be the origin of their first man and first woman of the Tseshaht people. A carving representing the first man along with interpretative information has been installed, and visitors leave gifts from the natural world at his feet. These outer islands are influenced by rollers and swells from the Pacific and especially the afternoon westerlies which can blow up. We could also experience bigger water along Imperial Eagle Channel by Gibraltar and Dempster Islands. Safety is a priority, but if conditions warrant, it can be fun to row in true coastal conditions. There is excellent BC rowing to enjoy!.
After a final hearty breakfast and packing our luggage onto the water taxi, it is time for our final row back to Secret Beach. We could take a different route there, perhaps following the shore along Macoach Passage or exploring down Pipestem Inlet. But all good things do come to an end. We will load the trailer and drive the five hours back to Victoria. We bid a fond farewells to our new friends and to rowing in the wilderness of beautiful British Columbia. Accommodation is not included this night, but we are happy to assist you with recommendations, if needed.