Points of Interest on Route to Tofino & Ucluelet, BC                                    

Listed is some points of interest on the drive to the West Coast from ferries in Nanaimo.

To drive to the West Coast from Nanaimo, take Hwy. 19 north for 43 km (26 miles). Then take exit 60 (signs will alert you) to Hwy. 4 towards Port Alberni. Continue on Hwy. 4 through Cathedral Grove to Port Alberni. You must enter into the city of Port Alberni and continue straight downhill until you reach the junction/river where you turn right and follow this road all the way to the Pacific Rim Hwy.

 

Coombs

The first stop of interest when driving west on Hwy. 4 is the small town of Coombs, located nine kilometers west of Parksville (accessible from Hwy. 4 and Hwy. 4A west of Parksville). This popular stopover has antique and gift shops, heritage buildings, and other fun roadside attractions. The Coombs Country Market is a big draw, featuring the ever-popular Goats on the Roof and a variety of produce, baked goods, specialty gifts and crafts, a restaurant and ice cream.

Coombs is also home to Butterfly World and the Emerald Forest Bird Garden where visitors can stroll amongst hundreds of butterflies flying freely in an indoor tropical rainforest. The World Parrot Refuge is also located in Coombs, an educational facility dedicated to the health and well being of parrots.

July in Coombs means it's Old West time at the Coombs Rodeo grounds. A bluegrass festival, an old time fiddlers jamboree and the Annual Coombs Rodeo are featured events. Also in the same month, look for the annual Coombs Country Arts and Crafts Fair that features arts, crafts, concessions, entertainment and other exciting demonstrations.

 

Little Qualicum Falls

Little Qualicum Falls is a provincial park located between Coombs and Port Alberni. This park straddles the falls and incorporates the southern part of Cameron Lake. A popular recreation destination, the park features camping, lake swimming, shaded riverside trails and picnic facilities. Parking and camping fees are in effect. Little Qualicum Falls park is open from May 1-Sept. 30.

Just after Little Qualicum Park,  look for Cameron Lake recreation facility. A day use facility, there are picnic tables and washrooms at the site. Take a break on a hot day to go for a swim, or simply stop and appreciate the view of the Beaufort Mountains, complete with an old train trestle visible on the other side of the lake. This is also a great lake for trout fishing if you have the time.

 

Cathedral Grove 

Before you get to Port Alberni, you will come to Cathedral Grove, an ancient stand of giant Douglas firs, some up to 800 years old. Located in MacMillan Park, the Grove has a network of trails that are easily accessible by pulling off the highway.  The trails will take you into the forest under the shadows of these towering giants; this is the first taste of old growth you'll get on your way to the West Coast!

 

Port Alberni

The City of Port Alberni is located just a few kilometres from Cathedral Grove over the "hump" or the Port Alberni summit as this part of Hwy. 4 is referred to. Port Alberni is last city before you reach the west coast, so if you need to stop for gas, food or to stretch your legs, this is the place. There are picnic areas along the Stamp River, located at the bottom of the hill into town (stay on Hwy. 4) near the public marina. Port Alberni has a wonderful Harbour Quay area with many merchants and artisans if you'd like to stop for a while. A little beyond Port Alberni is Sproat Lake, where a provincial park is located for picnicking. Don't forget to stop at Nesgards Farm on your way out of Port Alberni! Nesgards farm is a large farm market that offers fresh produce, snacks and gifts! 

There are plenty of opportunities for stopping along the Pacific Rim Hwy. as you travel towards the West Coast. A rest stop is located approximately 40 km (24 miles) after the city of Port Alberni with washroom facilities. Also, several pullout lanes are located along the side of this two-lane highway to ensure faster vehicles can pass slower vehicles. Please use these if you're impeding traffic; it means a safer drive for all. There are many areas to pull off alongside the highway to view the scenery as well.

 

Kennedy Lake

Swim beach at Kennedy Lake is a beach area equipped with washrooms for summertime swimming. This area is part of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

 

Pacific Rim Information Centre

The Pacific Rim Information Centre is located at the junction of Hwy. 4 and Pacific Rim Hwy. Washrooms are located here, and you can visit with a park interpreter or information centre staff to learn more about the area and its attractions before continuing on into Ucluelet or Tofino.

Tofino is located 33 km north from the highway junction and Ucluelet is 8 km to the south. You have arrived on the West Coast!