Due to its close proximity to Tofino, Vargas Island Provincial Park in Clayoquot Sound is a very popular paddling and wilderness camping destination. Visitors also come here for the exceptional wildlife viewing opportunities offered, including the chance to see Gray whales in the area around Ahous Bay. Naturalists are drawn to this area every spring as the Gray whales pass by the island on their way to summer feeding grounds in the Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea.
Vargas Island Provincial Park protects the rugged western portion of Vargas Island, Blunden Island and the tiny La Croix Group of islands immediately northwest of Tofino. Much of the island is relatively flat and its interior features a number of bogs.
Marine features including exposed rocky coast, sandy beaches, sheltered channels and bays, an intertidal lagoon and mudflats are all protected within the park’s boundaries. The park is also home to ancient sand berms – rows of crescent-shaped sand mounds that indicate earlier sea levels.
The park area also includes the Cleland Island Ecological Reserve, home to a great diversity of nesting sea bird colonies including the Rhinoceros auklet, Cassin’s auklet, Pigeon guillemot and the Black oystercatcher. Access to the Ecological Reserve is prohibited, as the breeding seabirds are very sensitive to disturbances.
It is imperative that park visitors going to Vargas Island:
There are no designated campsites at this park, however wilderness camping is allowed. No facilities are provided other than six pit toilets and five food caches, located in popular camping areas. Vargas Island is accessible year-round; there is currently no winter camping fee, however a fee may be implemented in the future. Please practice “Leave No Trace” camping ethics.
The waters of Clayoquot Sound may contain a variety of fish species, including salmon, rockfish, halibut and lingcod. One of the more popular areas is around Wilf Rock at the southern portion of the park. Fishing is permitted as per provincial and federal fishing regulations. All anglers should check the current regulations issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada prior to fishing. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence.
Portions of this park are open to hunting for specific species. Hunters must have valid licences and tags. Please refer to current printed Hunting and Trapping Regulations Synopsis publication for closures and regulations.
Vargas Island Provincial Park is located immediately northwest of Tofino and west of Meares Island on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The park is accessible by boat from Tofino. Small planes can land on the beach of Ahous Bay. Nearby communities include: Tofino, Ucluelet, Ahousat, Flores Island.
BC Parks honours Indigenous Peoples’ connection to the land and respects the importance of their diverse teachings, traditions, and practices within these territories. This park webpage may not adequately represent the full history of this park and the connection of Indigenous Peoples to this land. We are working in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to update our websites so that they better reflect the history and cultures of these special places.