Next stop on our trip to BC was the town of Tofino on the West coast of Vancouver Island. The Island is only about 300 miles by 50 miles (at its widest). The drive across the island on Highway 4 from Nanaimo to the beautiful Pacific Rim National Park and Tofino at its’ terminus, was very scenic. A stop at Stamp River Provincial Park for the short walk to see the salmon leaping up the waterfall or swimming through the fish ladder to avoid the rapids was a good place to picnic.
The Pacific Rim National Park was very atmospheric with wild scenery, ancient rain-forests, sandy rocky coves, misty small islets, breaking surf waves and on this occasion beautiful sunsets. It was a great place for an early morning walk from our accommodation at the Best Western Tin Wis resort, which was on the beach with beautiful views.
Tofino is an excellent place to visit to see coastal black bears. It is an interesting old fishing town clinging to the rocky, forested slopes, with many outfitters competing for custom to take you out on whale watching or trips seeking black bears. We had chosen to go on the black bear small boat safari in a rigid hulled inflatable with Remote passages. Parking the hire car on a narrow, almost vertical slope leading down to the pier going into the Pacific Ocean was an exciting start to the trip. We then had to suit up in bright orange, inflatable, full body suits before waddling down the pier and clambering into the boat. Clinging on we shot off at great speed between the islands in search of bears.
Tofino Black Bears in Clayoquot Sound
The Black Bear (Ursus americanus), although weighing on average 150-300 lbs (68-158 kg), is the smallest and most widespread of the 3 North American bears. It is the most successful bear on the planet. Being omnivores in the spring and summer, their diet consists mostly of succulent roots and shoots, any berry crops that are around, and assorted grubs and insects from the forests. However in late summer in order to build up fat stores for the winter some of the bears are drawn to the rivers and coasts, wandering along the beaches at low tide to find small shore crabs and any other easy meals along the pebbly beaches.
After scouring some of the small bays that make up the coast line of the Clayoquot Sound we came across our first bear. The bears were busy turning over rocks oblivious to us watching them as they searched for food. They were mostly on their own on short stretches of pebbly beach, below the rainforest. We did see a mother and her cub, who she tried to keep from coming down out of the forest on to the beach where we could see him. Often the shaking of the branches in the trees and the snapping of twigs was all that was visible of the small cub as his protective mother stood guard on the beach.
One lucky black bear found a dead salmon in amongst the rocks and after turning it around in his mouth and dropping it a few times against the stones it ambled off with it in his mouth into the trees.
After seeing several different black bears on different islands we sped off past a some rocky islands with their small group of harbor seal and came across a pod of resident Orcas being led by a large male which gave us a close look.
Finally we paid.a visit to a special tribal island, our guide was a guardian of the building on the island and told us a little of its’ history and then it was back at speed through the islands to the pier at Tofino.
Another excellent excursion.