Just a sea plane or ferry ride away from downtown Vancouver, we're convinced there's no better way to spend a longish weekend. Should you follow in our footsteps, here's what you'll need: A car to get around. Hiking shoes, sunscreen, a good camera and a pair of forgiving pants or shorts (the food is that good!).
If you're coming from the big city, there is nothing more detoxifying than taking in the aroma of Arbutus and Douglas fir trees as you meander the grounds of Tigh-Na-Mara Resort and Spa ("House By the Sea" in Gallic). Established by a Scottish family in the 1950s on 22 acres of forested land, the collection of log cabin-style bungalows is rustic luxury at its best.
"Relax, it's Qualicum!" I heard this many times during my visit to this small Vancouver Island community, whose population of 8,900 swells to 16,000 in the summer. They boast the dubious honour of having the highest median age of any city in Canada. But if you think that means this is a sleepy, tea-room filled community, think again.
The proponents of Raven Coal failed because of their short-sightedness. A risky, 16-year coal mine project is unsustainable in every sense of the word and Central Vancouver Island rightfully rejected this model of long-term pain for short-term gain. So what does this mean, and where do we go from here?
Long in the shadow of Tofino, its more famous neighbour to the north, Ucluelet is an unpretentious working harbour town that's becoming a popular wild west coast getaway. Today, it offers visitors everything from whale watching and kayaking excursions to fresh dining options, as well as a range of accommodations.