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Calgary to Ucluelet with little ones

Calgary, Canada
6 posts
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Calgary to Ucluelet with little ones

Hello! I've got 2 info requests. We're organising a trip to Vancouver island at the end of July. We'll be driving from Calgary with 2 little ones (4 +1 year old). We've booked accommodation in Ucluelet for a week, and the ferry to Nanaimo so we're now trying to arrange the actual getting there and back.

We'd like to get to Ucluelet as fast as we can so maybe spend a night or 2 at the most somewhere along the way to ease the long trip and maybe another couple of nights on the way back to ease the trip again and the end of holiday blues. We'll probably leave Vancouver for another trip but we're not too sure about this yet. Any suggestions on possible places to stop on the way or tips on doing this sort of drive with young kids would be greatly appreciated.

The 4 year old is whale/sea creatures mad (hence the trip) and any recommendations on child friendly whale watching companies around the Ucluelet/Tofino area would again be most welcome.

Thank you!

Vancouver-by-the-Sea
Destination Expert
for British Columbia
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1. Re: Calgary to Ucluelet with little ones

No WW company will take children that age but the Ukee Aquarium is an excellent option.

http://www.uclueletaquarium.org/

Renting kayaks for an afternoon and paddling around Ukee Harbour should satisfy-it's a long narrow arm of water quite sheltered.

There's also an ice cream place in Ukee

http://www.ucluelet.travel/ukee-scoops

Calgary, Canada
6 posts
1 review
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2. Re: Calgary to Ucluelet with little ones

Thank you SamSalmon!

Renting Kayaks is a great idea and we'll definitely visit the aquarium and ice cream place.

I had a quick look and it seems a few of the whale watching places do take young kids, even babies, or at least that's what they've posted in their websites, I'll have to confirm with them. I guess it's the ones with slightly bigger boats where you can be inside. Anyone has done this with young kids?

Thanks again

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: Calgary to Ucluelet with little ones

It is very brave of you to take on a long driving trip with kids so young! I refused to do it until our youngest was four. We have done trips up to Williams Lake every year since the kids were born and that's about a 6-7 hour trip. I found we were all at our limit by the end and I've found on other trips when the kids were little that pushing past that time was usually a mistake.

I would recommend planning to start VERY early in the day. The kids won't sleep once you have got them up to start driving, but you can then afford to take a very long lunch break somewhere, and the best arrangement is usually a picnic and playground. Restaurants are usually a bad idea, especially with kids who have been tied down in car seats.

After the early start and a good active lunch break, they will hopefully sleep in the car for a good chunk of the afternoon and you can make tracks. Drive 'til they wake up and then push it a bit more until you have to stop for dinner.

Do your kids sleep when you take them out of the car? Some kids will wake up if you try to move them from the car, in which case you have to stop before bedtime. If you can transfer them to a bed asleep, then choose motels with ground floor entrances and plan to drive until 10 pm.

Doing this, you might be able to push to 8 or 9 hours of driving. Calgary to Tofino is going to be .... about 17 hours all in? So two long days might do it, but taking three would allow you to keep it to 6 hours per day, which would be my choice with kids that age.

Calgary to Salmon Arm is showing as 5hrs 42 minutes on Google, so that's probably a good target for day one. Day two you might want to go for a late ferry and spend that night in Nanaimo, leaving the drive to Uclulet for the next morning and arriving early enough in the day to make the most of it.

For the return trip, I would probably push through from Uclulet, take an early afternoon ferry and get out into the Fraser Valley, Chilliwack or even Hope that first day. Next day you could probably take your time and get to Revelstoke, giving you a bit more time to enjoy Banff on the way through the last day.

Calgary, Canada
6 posts
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4. Re: Calgary to Ucluelet with little ones

Wow, loads of good advice, thank you Vancouverite67!

We've done a few longish trips with the children and it seems that 4 to 6 hours is about the limit as you say, this one will be interesting though as it's the longest so far, hopefully we can make it as painless for everyone as it can be. We like the sound of trying to make it to Salmon Arm on Day one and then to Nanaimo for the second night, that could work really well. I think we'd try 2 nights on the way in when it's all exciting and maybe 3 on the way out when everyone is a bit down holiday is over...or maybe the other way around would be better and get home as quick as we can, we'll have to have a think about that! We have a child that transfers from car to bed well and one who doesn't so we can't win!

Jasper, Canada
Destination Expert
for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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5. Re: Calgary to Ucluelet with little ones

Cchetham, re your question about has anyone done whale-watching with young kids... It's been a few years now (my "kids" are now grown and in their 20's), but we did a whale-watching excursion with them, from Tofino, when they were 5 and 2. The 2-yr old slept through the entire thing. I don't remember which company it was, but we were out on deck the whole time.

British Columbia...
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6. Re: Calgary to Ucluelet with little ones

Jamie's Whaling Station will take all ages out on their 65' foot cruiser for whale watching and they also have a family special from their Ucluelet location. This offers a child 18 or under to go free with each paying adult fare.

I would also highly recommend stopping by the Ucluelet aquarium. It is amazing and the children will have a blast.

Have a great trip to the island!

Calgary, Canada
6 posts
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7. Re: Calgary to Ucluelet with little ones

Yay, thank you very much krp329 and AnnaL!

It did seem from their websites that a few of the companies would take little ones, I'll look into Jamie's Whaling Station. The 4 yr old is sea creature mad which is rather unfortunate as we live in Calgary but it sounds as though we're going to the perfect spot for him. I hope our 1 1/2 year old sleeps all the way too!

Vancouver
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8. Re: Calgary to Ucluelet with little ones

Jamies whaling Station will take your children but only on the 67 ft boats not on Zodiacs.. I just came back and there was an infant on our boat.. Personally thought it was a bit crazy as it was a rough sea Day.

The drive from Nanaimo to Uckee is a hard drive so I wouldnt push it and certainly wouldnt recommend doing it after dark. the last 100 k is all narrow highway driving with tight turns and in some cases no shoulders.There are also very few places wirh restroom facilities.

To give you an example of time needed. We left Ucluelet at 10 AM and had a quick bite in Nanaimo and caught the 2:30 Ferry. We arrived back home in Vancouver at 5:30 So that will be same going over .

On our outbound we caught the 10:30 ferry from Horshoebay Bay stopped for lunch in Port Alberni and checked in at 4:15 P.M

Please be aware that you will not get very close to the whales and will not have much luck with the Humpbacks since they will have finished their migration to the Bering Sea .

Enjoy..Its a beauatiful part of the world

Vancouver, Canada
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9. Re: Calgary to Ucluelet with little ones

In my experience, the first day of the road trip is the WORST! The kids are excited and restless, DH is edgy and anxious to get going and it doesn't take long for dad to start yelling at the kids to shut up, so I usually plan for a shorter driving day to start us out.

By the middle of the trip, the whole family has settled into a routine and we can usually get a longer driving day out of everyone, so I usually plan for the harder driving days at the end of the trip.

10. Re: Calgary to Ucluelet with little ones

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