I thought this Tofino hike on Vancouver Island was going to be like any other. Boy was I wrong! Private boat tour, rugged board walk, giant trees and an enchanted rainforest.
I grew up watching movies like Swiss Family Robinson, Return of the Jedi and other fantasy-adventure movies.
Every time I enjoyed one of these movies, I imagined what it would be like to journey through the forested jungles just like one of the characters.
I recently watched Swiss Family Robinson with the kids and they, too, found themselves wishing for a home in the trees.
There’s just something magical about a thick, lush rainforest.
Just last week, I found myself in a similar setting to these beloved movies as once again, our family’s favourite Captain Todd took us on an enchanted excursion with Sea Dreamer Marine Adventures.
When I talked with him to get ideas for another family experience, Captain Todd suggested the Big Tree Trail on Meares Island.
This 45 minute hike sounded perfect for our family, though I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting anything like this!
We met up with Captain Todd at his boat “Sea Dreamer V” and the kids all gave him hugs. He’s just that special. We all loaded into the boat, including the family Golden Retriever, and ventured out into the water.
This short, 15 minute ride, took us through the harbour and around an island or two until we reached Meares Island. Home of the “Big Tree Trail”. As we floated through the waters, the kids enjoyed playing in the boat, looking through the window and pretending to sleep in the onboard bed.
On approach to Meares Island, I pictured our hike as any other hike I had ever been on… boy was I wrong.
When Captain Todd dropped us off at the dock, he told us where to go and then proceeded to park the boat and join us for a few minutes at the beginning.
He started by telling us about the “life tree.” Did you know there is a tree that’s resistant to disease and insects, whose bark can be used for basket-weaving as well as clothing and also has medicinal properties?
Phew! The cedar tree is truly amazing! And can grow to be HUGE!
Back in the 1980’s, Meares Island was under threat of logging. In an attempt to bring awareness to the island and keep this from happening, some people built a trail on it, winding the trail through the lush forest and around some of the oldest living trees I have ever seen. This trail helped to save the trees on the island and has helped others to explore and discover these breathtaking towers.
The trail was spectacular. It is made entirely out of rugged planks!
We hiked along on a boardwalk and at every turn I felt like I was either climbing up into the Swiss Family Robinson’s treehouse or that one of the Ewoks from Star Wars’ Return of the Jedi would hop out and take me to their village.
I felt like I was in an enchanted world.
The kids were in awe as well. I heard several times, “Mama! This is such a cool bridge!”
There are a couple different hikes to take on Meares Island. One is about 3 hours and the other is around 45 minutes. Both are on a boardwalk and both take you to see the massive cedar trees. We chose the 45 minute loop and were quite happy with our decision, though I felt like I could have stayed there all day.
At the end of the 45 minute trail is “Big Mama,” a 1700 year old cedar tree!
As you can imagine, this tree is absolutely massive. I’ve seen many trees in my life, and this one stands out as memorable for sure.
As we ventured back to the beach, there was Captain Todd waiting to take us back to Tofino. We hopped into Sea Dreamer V and enjoyed a beautiful boat ride.
As always, Captain Todd shared interesting stories of the people who originally settled in and around Tofino as well as continued to educate us on the beautiful seascape.
The day was lovely. The company Sea Dreamer Marine Adventures was fantastic. It was wonderful spending time once again on the water and hiking a trail like none other. All in all, a great morning.
A few things to note about the Big Tree Trail on Mears Island:
1. It is quite rustic. The planks are not all smooth and neat. It’s part of the charm, but be careful as you walk along.
2. It’s pretty remote. Once you are dropped off by boat, you are on your own! Unless you are with a tour company and the captain or leader comes with you. We saw a kayak tour come ashore, so you may want to explore that option as well.
3. There is a port-a-potty at the beach, but that’s it. No running water so bring your own as well as any snacks you may want for your journey.
Sea Dreamer Marine Adventures
Booking Office: @Tofino Tea Bar
381 Main St.
Notes: Sea Dreamer Marine Adventures can drop you off and pick you up at any number of locations in the beautiful Clayoquot Sound (Tofino). Click on the link for the most popular destinations Captain Todd can water taxi you to in the Clayoquot Sound.
Meares Island Big Tree Trail: 15 min boat ride (round trip) & 1-2 hrs of light hiking **Adult – $25 Youth – $20 (additional $5 trail fee)
While our families experience with Sea Dreamer Marine Adventures was complimentary, you can rest assured that our thoughts, opinions, and findings are our own as always.
Somehow I've never made it to Tofino even though it's always been a place I've wanted to visit. The closest I got was Cathedral Grove which I think is en route? -
Yes, Sarah, Cathedral Grove is on the road to Tofino. Just another 3 hours and you'd be there. It's a beautiful drive. You'd love it for sure! -
Looks like just the sort of thing my family would love too! -
I'm sure your family would love it! I can't imagine hiking this trail and not getting lost to its magic! -
The tree you are all standing in front of looks absolutely huge, so wide!!! I love films like Star Wars too, and I know I would imagine being on Endor if I visited Meares island - So cool. I really like watching your videos Jay - You have great camera presence! -
They were so huge, I could hardly believe my eyes Paul! I felt like an ewok was going to pop out any minute. Thanks for the kind words about our videos. We really enjoy making them! The one in this post is our first time interviewing someone, I think it went well! J -
No probs Jay, I would like to start doing videos but I am not great in front of a camera and I hate how my voice sounds when I play something back haha!!! -
Wow, this looks like a fun and gorgeous hike! Glad your family had a great time! -
Thanks Cory. It was a fantastic hike indeed. -
We loved our walk around Meares Island with Giselle Martin back in 2011. Definitely a must do while in Tofino! -
Yes, it's surely a MUST do! We agree! So many people don't know about it. Well worth the time. -
Looks like a beautiful hike! And I loved that it helped preserve the trees on the island. Those trees are huge! -
Amy, they sure are! I kept blinking over and over to be sure I was actually seeing the size accurately. We don't see trees that huge very often, if ever. I'm glad they were preserved too. -