From Secret Beach, kayak secluded Vancouver Island coastline
Secret Beach Campground & Kayak Launch connects paddling, hiking adventures on #Indigenouscoastbc
With a connection that puts you on the edge of epic—the western coast of Vancouver Island, on the precipice of the Broken Group Islands archipelago in Barkley Sound—Secret Beach Campground & Kayak Launch allows any paddler or solitude seeker to fuel up on ancient secrets.
Less than 30 minutes from downtown Ucluelet (under two and a half hours from Nanaimo) is this place that Paula Cardenas has called her office for over three years.
“It’s wild here. And you can experience the West Coast spirit as soon as you set up camp,” explains this experienced sea kayaking guide.
WATCH: adventures on the edge at Secret Beach Campground & Kayak Launch
It’s pretty awesome to be in the presence of something building, momentum happening right before your eyes. Four years ago when I had the pleasure of connecting with Noah Plonka, his "Secret" was still just that.
In the time since, Plonka and his Toquaht Nation team have expanded the site with more camping spots, cook shelters, gathering places, bike trails and marina upgrades. And now, camping platforms (more on those in a bit).
That oceanside access is perfect for a West Coast campground teeming with marine life.
“At low tides the marine life is crazy—the waters here are so clear, with thriving ell grass, sea stars and other intertidal life,” Cardenas enthuses. “Not far from here you can paddle to a family of seals and with this marine life intensity paired with the First Nations history it makes Secret Beach such an intriguing destination.”
Watch for a ZenSeekers feature out next month showcasing this historic connection given Secret Beach Campground & Kayak Launch makes it home within Toquaht Nation, a West Coast Vancouver Island original.
“The campground here is so awesome,” explains Cardenas, “it’s rustic, no service for your phone, great weather and literally has been a secret, so the name makes sense.”
Secret Beach sits within Toquaht Bay and in front of it is one of the world’s top ocean kayaking destinations: the Broken Group Islands.
The islands are a federally protected area home to islands with millennia worth of history. These calm waters and that historical background deliver its world recognition.
“The history is super cool—starting with the First Nation …and then the settlers who were here trading. You can see remnants of trading posts.
"Or experience the Indigenous creation story with a paddle to Benson Island about an hour from here. When you go there you’re left with “wow”, the green grass on this island is a spot you just want to walk barefoot.”
Benson and the other 99 islands are in the center of Barkley Sound, sandwiched between Huu-ay-aht First Nations—home to Kiixin—and Ucluelet First Nation, along Vancouver Island’s west coast.
For those looking to experience one of the best paddling adventures, the welcome mat at Secret Beach Campground & Kayak Launch is only growing. New this year is a series of six (to start) camping platforms.
These cedar decks and camping platforms look out over Toquaht Bay, and the entrance to the Broken Group Islands.
Let the waters of the Pacific Ocean fill your ears with secrets as the waves wash up under you, and wake up inspired to paddle in history and into a marine environment you won’t believe is real.
Right next to these platforms is the signature kayak launch, making it so easy to access your new reality.
When You Go
Access Secret Beach Campground & Kayak Launch just off Highway 4—look for the sign in this picture, noting that the campground is accessed by a 14 kilometer maintained gravel road.
Hiking at Secret Beach
Need to stretch the legs after a great paddle? Secret Beach Campground has you covered with their new Toquaht Trail, a 1.5-kilometer hiking path (to start), overlooking the bay, passing old growth trees and culturally modified cedars too many to count.
New cookhouse, events for 2023
The Toquaht Cookhouse at Secret Beach's impressive marina, a huge cedar venue that includes a massive BBQ pit. Stay tuned for the low down on a labour day weekend music event here, as ZenSeekers will have details to you soon.
#IndigenouscoastBC circle route
Secret Beach Campground & Kayak Launch can make the perfect trifecta for those seeking an ultimate camping experience.
- stay a few nights at Secret Beach
- then drive an hour to check into the the new Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation-owned Tsawaak cabins two minutes from Mackenzie Beach, Tofino
- and then over to Bamfield, home to Huu-ay-aht First Nations’ Kiixin Tours and their Pachena Beach Campground.
This circle route is a secret everyone should know about because it will transform those who are on it.
Share your adventure
Be sure and tell us what you discover and the secrets you learn by featuring the hashtag #ZenSeekers in your posts.