Road trip the Vancouver Island coastal route


#IndigenousCoastBC — Welcome to a BC coastal experience few can say they’ve ever had. 

Follow the winding island roads along the west coast of Vancouver Island, within Nuu-chah-nulth Homelands (the collective of 14 island-based First Nations), to get out on the land, on the water and connecting to Indigenous cultural experiences that will leave you transformed.  

The #IndigenousCoastBC Coastal Route connects you to the ability you have to support Indigenous through your travel dollars, stay in First Nation accommodations, and take in coastal experiences from Indigenous perspectives.

Those looking for more reconciliACTION in their world, here is your summer epic.

WATCH: take a virtual tour of the #IndigenousCoastBC Coastal Route

Watch #IndigenousCoastBC: The Coastal Route on YouTube.

How to take the Coastal Route #IndigenousCoastBC 

Once you get to the west coast of Vancouver Island, you can choose whether to travel north to south or vice versa. The route below starts with the south and works north, but you can just easily reverse the order. 

Hike through ancient rainforest to historic Kiixin  

Allow Huu-ay-aht First Nations knowledge keepers to transport you with their stories and their songs to 5,500 years ago, when this beach was inhabited by thousands, a bustling village located where today’s community of Bamfield, BC lies.

Sunset Tour at Kiixin with Huu-ay-aht traditional song and dancing.
Photo: Chris Istace
Over 5500 years of natural and Indigenous cultural heritage await, at Kiixin Village, near the port hub of Bamfield, BC.

Kiixin Tours run daily, about 1.5 hours from Port Alberni. Access to the Kiixin historic site and the town of Bamfield is an active logging road that is in the process of being paved (completed fall 2023).  

Book a Kiixin Tour, May 19 - Sept 4

Where to stay in Bamfield: Continue your Indigenous travel by staying with Huu-ay-aht owned accommodations in Bamfield including the Hacas Inn, the Upnit Lodge or Pachena Bay Campground

Where to eat/shop: stock up with groceries at the Huu-ay-aht owned Market and Cafe, or enjoy a coffee or a meal at the cafe (open seasonally March - October).

Understand more of the Kiixin experience, through this ZenSeekers story

Stay, paddle at Secret Beach Campground and Kayak Launch

About 30 mins from downtown Ucluelet, pitch your tent on a platform perched over the ocean. The Platforms are new this year to this 70-site camp spot & trailer mecca connecting paddlers to one of the world’s top kayaking destinations, on Toquaht First Nation lands. 

The Secret Beach kayak launch connects you to the Broken Group Islands, a National Parks Canada destination, watched over by Toquaht and the neighbouring Nation’s guardians.

Kayaking through the Broken Group Islands, from the Secret Beach Campground kayak launch.

Through the summer you can arrange with Majestic Ocean Kayaking (Ucluelet) or Paddle West Kayaking (Tofino) who both offer rentals and tours right from the campground. Easy to arrange and they bring the boats to you and take them away when you are done. 

Book your Secret Beach adventure now

Watch for cabins sprouting up through 2023 here at Secret Beach and stay tuned for real estate potentials coming now that all the services to this growing community have been connected. Visit the Secret Beach website for more detail and bookings. 

Paddle into the experiences of Secret Beach without leaving your chair via this ZenSeekers coverage.

Stay, surf and chill oceanside at Tin Wis Resort

Five minutes from downtown Tofino on Mackenzie Beach, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation took possession of the former residential school back in the early 1980’s and through perseverance and tenacity, they turned the place into a resort—the Tin Wis Resort, one of Canada’s top ocean front accommodation options, where every room includes an ocean view.

Paddle surf Tin Wis Tofino Melissa Renwick ZenSeekers
Photo: Melissa Renwick
The calm waters at Tin Wis make it ideal for paddleboarding and beach activities.

On site there's a surf shop offering paddle board lessons, in an area of Tofino that is known as “calm waters": the perfect place to check in for some serious Zen while supporting Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation’s futures. 

Understand what your stay means to Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation’s future, by reading this ZenSeekers feature.  

Stay at Tin Wis, book now

While there, take a water taxi or paddle with Kayak West over to Meares Island to experience the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation’s Big Tree Trail. Here, learn about the history and what the value of these towering giants (massive old growth cedars) brings to the Tla-o-qui-aht people. 

You'll quickly understand why National Geographic did a seven-page spread (July 2022) on these efforts. Leave a donation with the Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks for the work they do to preserve these sacred ancient gardens.

On the Big Tree Trail you can stand in a cathedral of ancient rainforest, some of the oldest in North America, preserved by Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks.

Understand what is waiting for you on Meares Island through this Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks ZenSeekers coverage

Rather keep your head closer to earth with your accommodation choices? Tsawaak is Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation’s newest tourism venture opening this June on the same site as Tin Wis Resort—an RV Resort/campground featuring a collection of signature cabins less than a two-minute walk to Mackenzie Beach.  

Stay tuned to ZenSeekers through 2023 as we work with each of these communities to bring you fresh stories on why any of these choices will not set you wrong. Rather, making these Indigenous choices and welcoming their perspective into your world will enrich your view for years to come. 

Choose Indigenous, make a coastal circle route with #IndigenousCoastBC inspiration and let us know what you discover; a new way to look at the world is waiting.

#IndigenousCoastBC map: use this Google Map to guide your coastal route trip—from your phone, just click the map for directions, or use this link to send this map to your phone

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