Hike the West Coast; Hike Bamfield


By Doc Pow for #ExplorePortAlberni

Bamfield, B.C. – As the ocean laps at the shore, the sound of the crashing waves washes away the everyday noise and takes you to a place that is out of this world. Welcome to the west coast, and specifically Bamfield – where the spirit and beauty of its hiking trails has a magic that might just transform you.

This is where one of the world’s top multi-day hikes finishes or starts. Like living on the set of the Discovery Channel, Bamfield is the welcome mat for those who take on this ultimate trek, Parks Canada’s West Coast Trail. But don’t think you need to come to west Vancouver Island for only a multi-day adventure; Bamfield is also home to a bunch of eye-popping day hikes.

#ExplorePortAlberni. Start by checking out the Alberni Valley Tourism website.

Watch Hike the West Coast; Hike Bamfield on YouTube.

Around here, you are literally hiking Canada’s West Coast. Just an hour-and-a-half to two-hour drive along the well-marked logging roads, you can do Bamfield as a day trip from Port Alberni or make a weekend out if it with ocean-front accommodations.

My buddy John Pappas and I rallied with a few locals and hiked Bamfield recently to bring you a roundup of options that will inspire you to leave as early as tomorrow. Here are a few hikes that will keep you trekking:

1) The West Coast Trail - Hike out on ocean shelves through the day exploring tidal pools, watching for whales and checking out shipwrecks. As the tide comes in, it will push you into the rainforest, home to well-maintained boardwalks. Remember the part in Star Wars where Luke Skywalker meets Yoda for the first time? That is the best way I can describe the setting within the forest, lush and oh, so magical.

Photo: Doc Pow

Park’s Canada West Coast Trail is home to old-growth trees the size of skyscrapers. It's an adventure of a lifetime.

2) West Bamfield Boardwalk, more of stroll, than a hike, but still pretty cool. But first grab a grilled panini from the Mercantile and then hit the West Bamfield boardwalk. The community of Bamfield is broken up into an east and west portion. West Bamfield is only accessible by water taxi, easily summoned by walkie-talkies at docking locations and running year-round with a $5 fare. Tish McPhee, the Bamfield water taxi driver told us how the boardwalk came to be. One day a local got fed up with a big pile of lumber that had been wrongly delivered and no one was using it. So, they built a boardwalk connecting properties along West Bamfield. Hike the boardwalk to the end, head up and over the hill and arrive at…

Photo: Doc Pow

Tish McPhee, owner of Bamfield Watertaxi, connects you to West Bamfield, home to a great boardwalk. 

3) Brady’s Beach - This spot is right out of the movie set for Goonies, with sea spires of rock, secret sandy coves, sea caves and even a couple of blowholes just like you find on the coast of Hawaii. Time it right for your visit to Brady’s to see the makeshift stage locals have built featuring DJs and live music every now and then. No need to pack the bocce balls because they are already there.

Photo: Doc Pow

Brady’s Beach will leave you gobsmacked.

4) Pachena Beach - Hike the beach, found right at the end of the West Coast Trail. The beach can be done as a loop like we did where you hit the ladders of the West Coast Trail, then popping down onto the beach that ends at a stellar campground. The Pachena Bay Campground is owned and operated by the Huu-ay-aht First Nations with sites that back right onto the beach. Score the best sleep of your life as the ocean laps against your ear drums.

5) Mačinuʔii means “welcome” in Huu-ay-aht and it’s here you can immerse yourself in their culture with a hike to Kiixin. Check in on fall availability and read our coverage from ZenSeekers’ correspondent, Miss604, about how you can hike into an ancient First Nations village.


Pachena Bay Campground puts you on the edge of epic, the perfect spot for a cold one.

With all these amazing coastal hikes in the area, it’s no wonder local Chelsea Heartman gushes about her home. “It’s really about the nature and the quiet. Literally it’s about hiking time at or on the ocean and the nature around here.”

That sounds like an excellent reason to rally a crew this fall to hike Bamfield and take back home a whole bunch of west coast soul.

When You Go

Two options for accommodations – Make it a day trip from Port Alberni and the crew at Alberni Valley Tourism can help you with that OR stay in Bamfield.

Chris Istace, aka the Mindful Explorer, helps inspire you with more top tips for Bamfield here.

People are often inspired by the connections they make here on Vancouver Island which has motivated them to move to the Alberni Valley using the City of Port Alberni relocation information found on its website.

Go #ExplorePortAlberni and share what you find on your favourite social media channel so we can engage with you, too.

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