Florencia Bay - Tofino & Clayoquot Sound Trails
, named after the ship that was wrecked here in 1861 is certainly one of the most amazing places in Pacific Rim National Park. Just a short walk to the beach you descend down a wonderfully sketchy tangle of wooden stairs onto a fantastic, wild and secluded feeling Canadian beach.
Florencia Bay seems to have it all. Gorgeous, sandy beach. Excellent waves for surfing. An absurdly wild jungle forest that spills over the beach alive with colour. It has to be explored to be appreciated. The 5 kilometre bay cuts a wide arch, often with abrupt cliffs just off the beach.
Florencia Bay is known locally as Wreck Beach due the shipwreck that happened here. Four people died when the 200 tonne ship, the Florencia was wrecked. The Florencia actually capsized elsewhere, however, during the salvage effort, the ship towing the Florencia had engine trouble and cast off the Florencia to be wrecked here. The Bay's name was officially changed to Florencia Bay in 1930, but the original name is often still used.
If you are interested in history there is an excellent book about the area's history. Long Beach Wild - A Celebration of People and Place on Canada's Rugged Western Shore, mentions quite a lot about Florencia Bay. From it's famous shipwreck to the extraordinary, minor gold rush that occurred here long ago.
The trailhead to Florencia Bay is also the trailhead for the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Trail which branches off close to Florencia Bay. The Nuu-Chah-Nulth Trail then continues through a deep forest with several great interpretive history murals.
After a couple kilometres the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Trail comes to a fork. Left goes down a short trail to yet another amazing beach, South Beach. Taking the right fork takes you past a couple nice ocean views before arriving at the Kwisitis Visitor Centre and the .
The Kwisitis Visitor Centre more like a small museum with some astonishingly realistic depictions of the local history of the Nuu-chah-nulth people. An amazing, full size replica of a Nuu-chah-nulth whale hunt takes up half the main hall on its own.
The Kwisitis Feast House is quite an impressive restaurant as well. Both Visitor Centre and the Feast House are perched on a rocky point of land that juts out into the ocean. The ocean views are spectacular and every table at the restaurant has the same amazing view.
Florencia Bay, on its own is one of the nicest trails and beaches in Pacific Rim National Park. And owing to its proximity to the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail, the Kwisitis Visitor Centre and the , make the area a perfect day out in the wilderness of Clayoquot Sound. Combining all these sights can easily be done in a half day or more if you take time to explore all the amazing beaches.
Directions to Florencia Bay
13k from Ucluelet or 28k from Tofino look for the turnoff to Wick Road. This road leads to Florencia Bay, the Kwisitis Feast House(restaurant), the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Trail and the beautiful Kwisitis Visitor Centre(museum). Combining these with Florencia Bay is highly recommended. Florencia Bay is extraordinarily wild and tranquil. The Kwisitis Visitor Centre is wonderful, elaborate, beautiful and free(though small). The Feast House has amazing food, a million dollar view and surprisingly reasonable prices. And the Nuu-chah-nulth trail is an educational glimpse into the wild and captivating history of the area. At a rush you can do all in 3 hours, but expect to take at least 6 hours!
More Trails and Beaches Near Florencia Bay
The Nuu-chah-nulth Trail is an amazing interpretive trail that gives a glimpse of First Nations culture as it meanders 2.5 kilometres through the rainforest from Florencia Bay to Wickaninnish Beach. At Wickaninnish Beach there is the wonderful small museum, the Kwisitis Visitor Centre, as well as the spectacular . Previously known as the Wickaninnish Trail, the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail Trail is one of the most interesting and beautiful trails between Ucluelet and Tofino. The interpretive trail has several beautiful and informative stops along the way identifying the history and fauna of the area. After about 30 minutes of hiking through the deep forest, mostly along the nice boardwalk you come to a great viewpoint. From here you can turn left and in just 200 metres reach South Beach, or turn right, continue on the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail and in 600 metres arrive at the amazing Kwisitis Visitor Centre and Wickaninnish Restaurant.