From the look-out point the water at Florencia Bay always seems to sparkle. Last night the waves were coming in clean sets like straight lines rolling in from the horizon and gently breaking as they reached the sandy shores. On the right the trees grew tall out of rocky headlands. They became silhouettes in front of a setting sun.
Florencia Bay is a favourite beach among Ucluelet locals in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. It’s a short drive north of Ucluelet with access off of Wick Road on your way to Wickanninish Beach. A short walk from the parking lot brings you to a fantastic look-out deck. Walk further through old growth rainforest and you’re descending down a staircase towards the beach.
Surfers come here when westerly winds create turmoil on Long and Wickaninnish Beaches. This bay seems to be a little more protected when the weather blows through the other beaches. On this night there were surfers on the water. They sat patiently outside of the break, waiting for the next set, catching waves and effortlessly riding them into shore.
I walked to the left of the staircase and towards the river mouth of the Lost Shoe Creek. At the turn of the 20th century there was a minor gold rush here. They discovered Placer gold in the sand but extraction was too difficult and the buzz died down quickly.
If you cross over the Lost Shoe Creek towards the south end of the bay you’ll find yourself walking beneath sheer cliffs. Continue further and you’ll be at South Florencia Bay. A steep climb up a wooden staircase and a 2km walk down a wooded trail takes you to this beaches access at Willowbrae Road.
Florencia Bay got its name from a 200-tonne brigantine that wrecked off the coast of Vancouver Island in 1861 during a winter storm. The crew managed to right the Florencia and drift it to Nootka Sound where it was pumped out before the HMS Forward arrived to tow it back to Victoria for repairs. It was on route when the HMS Forward had engine trouble and had to cast off the Florencia. A storm came in and it was wrecked for good in this bay.
For years locals called it Wreck Beach, after the Florencia’s mishap. Now it is officially called Florencia Bay and it’s a breathtaking refuge for those of us who call this part of the coast home.
The Gray Team