My first EV road trip since the lifting of local travel restrictions is done and dusted! Here are my takeaways from an epic Tofino trip including charging costs, battery use, and things to see, do, and eat along the way.
Vancouver to Nanaimo
As noted in my pre-trip plan, this Tofino trip is an easy one. Departing my place in Vancouver with a 90% charge was more than enough to get to the Black Rock Resort, my home base for three days. Still, I was curious about the battery drain on the ferry ride to the island.
Interesting to note, Tesla NAV doesn’t seem to factor in the ferry ride, rather it thinks you are driving across the ocean. Settle down Elon, I know people think you’re Godly but this is getting out of hand ?.
Waiting at the ferry terminal, I noticed the nav saying we would arrive in Ucluelet with just 15% charge left. Once we began driving on the other side of the ferry ride, this was adjusted to 33%.
As for battery drain on the ferry ride itself, on the way over we grabbed a bite to eat above deck so only noticed a couple of per cent drop over the hour and 40-minute ride. The way back though was a different story.
As we waited to board the return ferry, temperatures hit a whopping 45°C (113 Fahrenheit) on the screen. We were in the middle of a heatwave and our AC was on overdrive. Things were no better on the boat and guests were asked to stay below deck where it was cooler.
We took that a step further by spending the whole ferry ride back comfortably in the car while watching a movie on Netflix. This cost us about 20 km in range but oh so worth it.
Nanaimo to Port Alberni
My plan included a quick stop at a brewery in Nanaimo before continuing on however, thanks to pushing back the trip due to travel restrictions, my initial ferry times got pushed back as well. This meant the brewery was closed by the time we got there.
We did make it to the famous Coombs Old Country Market before it shut. I’m happy to report that, for the first time in 20 years of visiting, the famous goats on the roof were indeed on the roof!
We stocked up on supplies before continuing on. The market has a great bakery and deli section. Hello, Nanaimo bars.
As expected, Cathedral Grove was still closed when we passed by. Sad as this is a great spot to stretch your legs and see some incredibly tall trees.
In Port Alberni, I was surprised to find not one, but three craft breweries. We chose Dog Mountain Brewing for a flight and eats based on their incredible patio. This more than made up for missing out on Longwood Brewery in Nanaimo.
I highly recommend their hazy IPA and anything on the menu with their focaccia bread!
Port Alberni to Ucluelet
Note Highway construction and closure:
The later ferry actually worked in our favour as there is a short stretch of Highway Four between Port Alberni and Ucluelet that is under heavy construction. To accommodate blasting, a portion of the road is frequently closed for long durations. Leaving a little later meant missing this closure and a potential backlog of cars. On our visit, we breeze through.
For latest road reports, be sure to check the Tofino tourism page.
After the sunset drive through the Vancouver Island Mountains, we arrived at Black Rock Resort. Even with stops, we pulled in with a 34% charge. That’s 1% above the Tesla Nav estimate and 6% below the ABRP plan.
The Black Rock Resort has two J1172 chargers and I was able to snag one on arrival. I noticed other EV‘s in the lot so set my charge level back down to 70% for exploring the area over the next couple of days. This shorter charge meant I could free up the spot quicker for someone else to use.
Ucluelet and Tofino
The next couple of days were spent exploring the area and relaxing at the resort. The hotel, although could use some love, is amazing. The views of crashing waves and rainforest trees are remarkable.
For a full review of the hotel check out my write up on thislifeintrips.com!
We intended to do a few hikes in the area including one to a downed WWII aircraft however the heatwave had other plans. Instead, we stuck to the nearby Wild Pacific Trail and took in the sunset from Amphitrite Point Lighthouse.
Heading north to Tofino, Pacific Rim National Park is a must-do. Aside from being the surfing destination in Canada, the beach and cool ocean breeze were a welcome relief from the heat.
In the Tofino itself, you can take whale watching tours, rent kayaks, and eat some really great food. I have done a trip with West Coast Aquatic Safaris a few years ago and can recommend them.
As for food, Tacofino is a must but expect a long wait. I recommend the Tuna and fish tacos. In the Tofino proper, Rhino for coffee and doughnuts and the Shed for lunch rouned out a nice visit.
I also got to check out Tofino Brewing’s new tasting room. The last time I was there, the tasting room was literally inside their workspace.
After charging to 90% at the Blackrock resort, we said goodbye to Ucluelet and headed home. We could’ve explored more as our ferry wasn’t until 5 PM but decided to beat the rush at the construction site. I still had about a 20-minute wait but can see that this would have been much longer as the weekend traffic started to head home.
In Parksville, we stopped at Aerosmith Brewery to cool off. They have misters on their patio and are a blessing. We then visited with friends in the Nanoose Bay before heading to the ferry queue. If you have time, highlights in the area include Qualicum Beach which is a nice place to stretch your legs!
Thanks to the battery drain on the ferry ride home, we arrived with 90 km of range left, well below the 40% I had in my ABRP plan. A significant drop from the way out but understandable given the heat!
So, what did this trip cost me to charge? In short, nothing!
With charging included with my stay at the Black Rock Resort and home charging built into my strata fees, this three-day Tofino trip was light on the pocket. With record gas prices, this is a pretty amazing thing.
I hope this helps with your Tofino trip planning. As I said, it was very straightforward. My next trip report, not so much. Stay tuned for that! It has a ton of first’s for me including trickle charging while sleeping in the car, relying heavily on my CHAdeMO adaptor, and my first EV charging rage moment!