Where the Pacific Ocean meets the Alberni Inlet along a wild and rugged section of the west coast lies the village of Bamfield. This remote coastal community on Vancouver Island is bursting with history and natural beauty. Visit Bamfield where you can enjoy these top activities, making your experience memorable for years to come.
I have been to Bamfield prior to my most recent trip with ZenSeekers and each time I am blown away with how beautiful this place is. On this trip I was able to spend the night and immerse myself a little more into the history, culture and local community that makes the village and surrounding region special. Read more on my ZenSeekers Bamfield Experience.
View this post on Instagram
As we motored along in the waters of Bamfield exiting Grapplers Inlet heading to Aguilar Point nearby fisherman alerted us to the Black Bear enjoying his evening meal of crabs and mussels. It is special moments like this that reminds me of the writing on the old shack at nearby Brady’s Beach we visited later that night. . “Let it not be said to your face, or to your shame, that everything was in its place before you came” – author unkown . Life is a little more wild and a little more special is this remote location of Vancouver Island. #MindfulExplorer #ZenSeekers #ExploreBC #ExplorePortAlberni
Visit Bamfield – Vancouver Island : Must Do Top Activities
Bamfield is located at the mouth of the Alberni Inlet surrounded by mountainous terrain with dense temperate coastal rainforest from north to south on its western flanks. Heading along the eastern side of the region you find Barclay Sound opening up to the Pacific Ocean and the Broken Islands. The village itself is broken into east and west by the Bamfield Inlet and the protected harbour that the community is built up around.
The Bamfield Chamber of Commerce summed up the village nicely on their website “Originally settled by the Huu-ay-aht First Nation, Bamfield has managed to accept many modern conveniences without compromising the pioneer spirit of this remote community. It’s a quiet, unassuming village where the love of the land and sea prevails.”
Visit Bamfield For These Top 10 Activities
1 – Explore and Camp at Pachena Bay
Most likely one of the nicest protected sandy beaches on Vancouver Island that I have visited. The beach is found in Pacheena Bay, a uniquely shaped box like section of the coast cutting into the nearby dense forest just south of Bamfield.
The Pachena Bay Campground is owned and operated by the Huu-ay-aht First Nationsand is in a magnificent setting on the shores of Pachena Bay, where the Pachena River flows into the ocean. The official website details the campground as being located next to the Huu-ay-aht First Nations community of Anacla, nestled amidst a virgin rainforest on Vancouver Island’s unspoiled west coast. This campground has full-service facilities and welcomes campers and RVs with sites that are right at the beach.
2 – Hike to Cape Beale Lighthouse
For those with an adventurous inclination, the rugged hike into this famous west coast landmark of the Cape Beale Lighthouse should be on your list. Built in 1874 the lighthouse is still manned and an important part of protecting ships along the dangerous rugged rocky coastline of Vancouver Island.
Access is from Tapaltos Trail, an offshoot of the Keeha Bay Trail, located in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. The light house is located beyond Tapaltos Beach and is roughly a 7km (14km roundtrip) moderate hike which should be allowed at least 8hrs. ( Check out the Parks Canada website for hiking route details, Cape Beale Headlands)
3 – Visit Brady’s Beach
This hidden gem of a beach is west coast coastline at its finest. Loved by locals and frequented by visitors the beach is a few km walk from the docks on the west Bamfield side of the inlet. Sandy beaches, sea caves, tide pools, beach combing, wildlife watching, rocky sea stacks and even the historic beach house all add up to a must do spot on your visit. Don’t forget to find the bench high on the rocks to the north for a great photo opportunity.
4 – Hike The West Coast Trail – Pacific Rim National Park Preserve
Discover the hike of a lifetime! The West Coast Trail is a 5 to 7 day backpacking route that winds through temperate rainforests along beaches, cliffs and sandstone. When you are here, you are in one of Canada’s special places—Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, protected as a treasured piece of Canada’s Pacific Coast.
The trail originated after the tragic day in January of 1906 when the Valencia wrecked to the East of Cape Beale. 133 of the 171 persons aboard perished as the vessel foundered over several days. The tragedy led to the construction of a lifesaving trail now known as the West Coast Trail.
Loads of great information can be found on the Parks Canada official trail website. I have had the fun of being able to complete the west coast trail and chose to do it is an overnight fastpack trip rather than the week long excursion. Read all about it here; West Coast Trail Fastpack Overnight Hike
5 – Whale Watching, Wildlife Tours and Kayaking
Check in with Bamfield’s local wildlife tours and boat charters to experience humpback whales, black bears and sea lions. Navigate the rugged coastline or travel around the beautiful Broken islands of Pacific Rim National park reserve. For those with the desire the Broken Island Group is one of the most sought out kayaking destinations in all of British Columbia, an ultimate bucket list experience. (The Bamfield Chamber of Commerce has a great local business directory.)
6 – Visit the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre
BMSC sits upon the historic location of the Commonwealth “Red Line” Telegraph station, a 6,437-km underwater communication line connection to North America to Europe in 1902. The telegraph station closed in closed in 1959 and in 1972, the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre (BMSC) opened. BMSC is now a renowned marine biology research station run by five western Canadian universities with students and researches on site year round.
Tours of BMSC are available during July and August, though visitors are welcome to stop by and see the aquaria any time. The official tours also include learning the history of Bamfield and BMSC. Check out their Website for more information. The beautiful RIX Centre on site also holds a summer concert series worth looking into.
7 – Take a Tour of the Bamfield Coast Guard Station
Serving the region for well over 100 years the Coast Guard Station serves and protects all that travel the south western shores of Vancouver Island. Built in 1908 upon its early history starting as a lifeboat station in conjunction with the West Coast Lifesaving Trail which ran from Bamfield to Port Renfrew. A unique learning experience when you visit Bamfield that you won’t be able to find many other places on Canada’s west coast.
8 – Take a Tour of the Ancient Huu-ay-aht Village of Kiixiin
Occupied by Huu-ay-aht ancestors for more than 5,000 years, Kiix̣in is the only known remaining complete traditional First Nations village on the southern BC Coast with significant standing long house remains and is commemorated as a National Historic Site. The local First Nations have now created an immersive tour for visitors that you can book on their official page, Kiix̣in National Historic Site of Canada.
Guided by Traditional Knowledge Holders, along the way, guests will learn much of the Huu-ay-aht history both past and present. Guests will also learn about the culture and how First nations have be stewards in the region from time immemorial. Read more on my own personal visit; Kiixin Tour – A Powerful Huu-ay-aht Cultural Experience on Vancouver Island
9 – Book a Sport Fishing Charter
For the fishing enthusiasts out there you need to Visit Bamfield and experience west coast fishing. With plenty of local guides and charters available you can test your skills and luck against the likes of Salmon, Halibut and Rockfish.
10 – Explore the Historic West Bamfield Boardwalk
Along the west side of the village and the rocky shores of the Bamfield Inlet you will find the historic boardwalk build in the 1940s. This heritage boardwalk is a step back into time as you walk along the many heritage homes rich with history and a story to tell. Read the interpretive signs installed by the Bamfield Historical Society to learn more about the past life in this fishing community that shaped what you see today. Be sure to find all 10 Interpretive signs the historical society has installed around the area when you visit Bamfield.
Visit Bamfield – Vancouver Island : How To Get There
Located on the traditional lands of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation this remote location only became accesible by road in 1964. Today the logging roads provide access when you visit Bamfield. As an alternative though and a fun experience you could take a ride on working Freight ship MV Frances Barkley. Providing a unique sailing down the Alberni Inlet to Bamfield from Port Alberni it provides an opportunity to see whales, eagles, bears and more all while relaxing in the passenger lounge.
Common Bamfield Road Trip Distance and Drive Times
- Nanaimo to Bamfield distance and drive time: 173 kms roughly 3 hours
- Port Alberni to Bamfield distance and drive time: 88 kms roughly 2 hours
- Victoria to Bamfield distance and drive time: 200 kms roughly 4 hours
- Lake Cowichan to Bamfield distance and drive time: 110 kms roughly 2.5 hours
For all travel times keep in mind that during the peak summer season you can expect possible delays and longer trips. Beyond Port Alberni and Lake Cowichan there are no services and the gravel logging roads can be rough depending on current conditions. Always be sure to start your trip with a full fuel tank and a good condition spare tire. Lastly important to note that on the logging roads there is no cell phone signal and once in Bamfield signal is limited and spotty.
Visit Bamfield – Vancouver Island : If You Go
Search #ExplorePortAlberni for more inspiration. Be sure to tag #ExplorePortAlberni while exploring the region to share your experience with others if you Visit Bamfield
Start planning your adventures in Port Alberni at Alberni Valley Tourism .
Start exploring your Bamfield and Port Alberni region options with Destination BC .
Find out more at the City of Port Alberni’s website .
Disclosure: This post was published in partnership with ZenSeekers
Related Travel Ideas When You Visit Bamfield
For more travel destination ideas to experience near Bamfield or on your trip there read more in my blog posts listed below.
For more road trips and travel destinations check out my Mindful Explorer Travel Destination page . As well I am always grateful for a follow on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter where I share more frequent photos and stories daily.