If you’re looking for a scenic trip to the Island before summer ends, Flores Island Park in central Clayoquot Sound should be at the top of your list. Accessible via boat from Tofino or the nearby Hot Springs Village, Flores Island is home to stretches of old-growth forest, pristine beaches, and plenty of unique natural features – ranging from shallow banks to sandstone reefs.
Flores Island lies in the traditional territory of the Ahoushat First Nations, who are recognized as one of the largest First Nations in BC. The park is home to numerous Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations heritage sites, including middens and Culturally Modified Trees (CMTs), which you may be able to spot from the historic Ahousaht Wildside Heritage Trail.
Note that the trail is best accessed from the village of Ahousaht, which visitors can get to by hopping on a water taxi from the 1st Street dock in Tofino.
Ahousaht Wildside Heritage Trail
Commonly known as the “Walk the Wild Side Trail,” the 32-km marine trail starts in Ahousaht village of Maaqutusiis, passing through portions of Gibson Marine Park, and Kutcous Point IR, according to BC Parks’ website.
“BC Parks would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the Maaqutusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society’s (MHSS) trail crew that have been removing windfall and brushing the trail in anticipation of its re-opening,” says the website.
First Nations have used this trail for centuries to reach the “wild beaches” of the west coast of the Island, and as of July 1st, the famed trail is now open to park visitors. Hikers can follow the route to sandy beaches, where they can swim, kayak, go fishing, observe resident Gray whales during the summer, and enjoy beach camping.
Note that there are no designated campsites at this park, and no facilities other than a pit toilet – so if you’re planning on doing some beach or wilderness camping, be sure to prepare accordingly. Flores Island is accessible year-round, with no winter camping fees to note.
So there you have it, Vancouver! An ideal island vacation is well within arm’s reach.
Where: Central Clayoquot Sound, north of Tofino
Information on Flores Island Park is from BC Parks, and is accurate as of publication date.