Since you guys helped me a lot to plan the trip to Victoria and Tofinio, it is only right that I describe our experiences in VI. So here goes. Hopefully this will help others.
Day 1: We landed in Victoria around 11 am, went to Enterprise to pick up the car and headed down to the city center. Our Airbnb was available to us only at 4 PM, so we had a few hours to spend. So we walked around in the city, had some really good Vietnamese food at a restaurant near the Chinatown and headed to the Beacon Hill Park and Spiral Beach. After that drove to the Airbnb which was across the bay in Victoria West. Unpacked, spend a short time relaxing and headed back to the Old City for dinner at Café Maxico. Food average, but nice ambience. After dinner drove to Clover Point Park to watch the sunset. Victoria West has a real 70’s feel to it. Small mom & pop cafes and bakeries, and very eclectic collection of houses and gardens.
Day 2: Went for an early morning walk on the water front (Songhees Walkway) for a nice sunrise and photography. Then had breakfast at a small café at the Market Square (don’t remember the name), food fabulous. The plan for the day was to explore Sooke and Juan de Fuca Trail. Spent time in Sooke in the morning and got to the China Beach trailhead in the afternoon. Hiked to Mystic beach, chilled out in the beach for couple of hours and hiked back. What a beautiful place. Lots of photography. On the way back, stopped at the delightful local café/bakery, Shirley Delicious. Divine homemade bread and soup.
Day 3: Morning was spent at the Royal BC Museum, going through very impressive First Nations Galleries and a special exhibition on Egypt. Afternoon, whale watching with Price of Whales tours. We had an amazing time, following a single pod of Orcas which had a less than 3 month old baby for almost 2 hours. Very knowledgeable boat operators with real knowledge about marine life around that area. Lots of really spectacular photos. We went to a sports bar in old town for dinner. Big mistake. NBA finals was in progress and place was noisy!! We are not sports bar types.
Day 4: Drive to Ucluelet. Stopped at Malahat lookout, Chemainus, Nanaimo, and Coombs Market. Highlights: Malahat, J.D. Stevenson Gallery in Chemainus, Mclean’s Specialty Foods in Nanaimo which we stumbled onto while searching for a Nanaimo bar from Nanaimo. Little did we know that they had an award winning Nanaimo bar. So photographs with the owner. The drive from Port Alberni to Ucluelet was real fun, through the winding mountain roads. We arrived in Ucluelet around 4.30 PM, text the owner to say that we have arrived. She texts back, “go right in, the door is unlocked with the keys inside, make yourselves comfortable, I will drop by later to meet you guys”. She arrives later, tell us about the area, places to go, places to eat, and other general descriptions about the place. Later that evening we have Japanese food (average) and go to the Lighthouse Point to wander around and watch the nightfall.
Day 5: Early morning walk to the Lighthouse to walk on the trail and watch a spectacular sunrise over the Broken Islands, more spectacular photography. Breakfast at Zoe’s Bakery (more about that later). Then off on a bear watching boat trip with Jamie’s Whaling. Saw altogether 6 black bears on different beaches enjoying sea food. Other wildlife that we saw: Harbor Seals, Sea Lions and many Bald Eagles. Lots of opportunities for photography. In the afternoon, drove to Tofino, stopping along a several beaches on the Pacific Rim National Park. One of the highlights in Tofino was Roy Vickers gallery. Lunch at the Schooner, which was very good.
Day 6 : Breakfast again at Zoe’s bakery again. Some light walking/hiking on the trails around Ucluelet. Then visited the small aquarium at Ucluelet harbor. It is a gem of a place, the first catch-and-release aquarium in the country. Then drove to Tofino to explore more the beaches and trails. Lunch at Big Daddy’s Fish Fry. Back to Ucluelet in time for dinner at Hank’s BBQ and end the day watching a spectacular sunset at Big Beach.
Day 7: Breakfast at Zoe’s. Drive to Nanaimo with stops at Cathedral Grove and Little Qualicum Falls. Dropped the car off at Enterprise in Nanaimo and took the ferry to Vancouver. So that was our VI vacation. We had 3 more days in Vancouver and Whistler.
Now about Zoe’s Bakery in Ucluelet. This was our find of the trip. We went there all three days for breakfast. They had an amazing range of homemade bake goods and breakfast stuff. Each day different. The staff was friendly and food out of this world. Our suggestion that they should consider moving the operation to Toronto was not taken seriously.
So all in all, an amazing trip. VI is an amazing place, breathtaking scenery, pristine wilderness. Our only hope is that it stays that way. Thank you all the experts on this forum for all the help in planning. You made our trip really special.