NY times top places to see and look who is number 25. Vancouver Island
Vancouver will have the sporting world’s attention when it hosts the Winter Olympics this year, but the most rewarding outdoor exploration is found outside the city, away from the crowds and off the beaten path. Hop the BC Ferry (www.bcferries.com) from Vancouver to Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island’s east coast, and drive three hours through mountain passes to the wild, dramatic west coast. The new Wild Pacific Trail (www.wildpacifictrail.com) skirts the rocky, rugged shoreline, overlooking sandy coves lined with driftwood and tidepools and the Pacific beyond them.
The hiking trail is being built in sections (there are three of seven set up so far), hand-cut through dense old-growth forests of cedar and spruce, with viewing platforms that let hikers see turn-of-the-20th-century lighthouses, kayakers heading to nearby islands, and the annual gray whale migration (about 20,000 pass by the island from February to late May). The base for the Wild Pacific Trail is a folksy fishing village called Ucluelet, a former First Nations settlement dotted with seaside inns, bed-and-breakfasts and beach cabins like the Terrace Beach Resort (www.terracebeachresort.ca), which has direct access to the trail. written by BONNIE TSUI