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Sea Lions basking in the Broken Islands

The Broken Islands is located just off the door step of Ucluelet and is the gem of the Pacific Rim. The group is a collection of 100 or so islands and islets popular for adventure. Some of the activities enjoyed exploring the islands include boating, scuba diving, sailing, sightseeing and kayaking.

The Pacific Rim National Park is separated into three sections – Long Beach, Broken Islands and the West Coast. The Broken Islands is centrally located in the Pacific Rim National Park. The communities closest to the islands and enjoy water access are Ucluelet and Bamfield.

The Broken Islands is best explored by boat and kayak. Some arrive with equipment in tow planning for a self guided tour. While others arrive with great expectations and sign up with one of the local tour groups operating from one of the neighbouring communities. Boating and kayaking tour groups provide interpretive guides, lessons, equipment and, some packages, include accommodations and meals.

Self guided kayaking adventures to the Broken Islands should only be attempted by experienced kayakers. Beginner and intermediate kayakers should paddle the islands with an experienced guide. A guide has a deep understanding of the currents, weather and tides and has all the proper equipment to ensure a safe trip.

Accessing the islands in many cases requires beach landings. A tricky process involving incoming and outgoing tides, avoiding driftwood logs and, in some cases, battling high winds.

The islands are mostly uninhabited. Many islands include sandy beaches, virgin forests, caves, cliffs and plenty of marine wildlife. Exploring within the inner boundaries of the Broken Islands group is safest. The inside islands are close together providing protection from winds and waves.

When arriving or leaving the islands visitors are exposed to ocean swells, high winds and varying tidal currents. It is this portion of the trip that safety is important and exploring is tougher as exposure to the elements can make conditions challenging.

Many top kayaking, scuba diving, boating and adventure magazines recognize the islands as a top adventure destination in British Columbia, Canada. Some of the more popular islands in the group include Turtle Island, Effingham Island, Gibraltar Island, Hand Island, Willis Island, Clarke Island and Gilbert Island.

Torquart Bay, east of Ucluelet, is considered one of the safer launching points for accessing the Broken Islands. The 4 kilometre route travels through mostly protected waters away from high winds and ocean swells.

Beach camping is only permitted in designated areas on designated islands. Often the campgrounds are full during the spring and summer seasons. Be aware that drinking water is scarce on the islands and proper preparation and planning is important.

The Long Beach Unit of the Pacific Rim National Park is located between the villages of Ucluelet and Tofino, and named after the 16 km (10 miles) sandy beach of Wickaninnish Bay. These beaches are the most spectacular in Western Canada and unique given the abundance of wilderness and incredible scenery.

16 km (10 miles) sandy beach of Wickaninnish Bay

Ucluelet Aquarium
Visitors can expect an up close and personal encounter with a diversity of local marine life. We raise awareness about local marine biodiversity and promote respect for the ocean environment. Visit the aquarium on the harbourfront in downtown Ucluelet.

Thornton Creek Hatchery is open daily from March to mid-June, raising chinook, coho and chum salmon. The most exciting time to visit the Creek is mid-October to mid-November, when adult spring and coho salmon return to the hatchery waters after three to four years at sea. Located on the Port Albion road 2 km from junction turnoff.

Bears enjoying fish at the hatchery

Chinook at the hatchery