Port Alberni is a breathtakingly unique enclave, majestically located in the south-central heart of Vancou-ver Island. The city boasts a splendid deep sea port which lies within the Alberni inlet opening into the Pacific Ocean and Barkley Sound. The city is known for its impeccable blend of indoor and outdoor ac-tivities, recreational activities and spectacular scenery. Tourists experience the best of both worlds with the ability to travel from the city's bustling plazas to beyond wilderness in a matter of minutes.
Getting to Port Alberni
To get to Port Alberni from the Comox Valley airport head South on Highway 19 (Inland Island Highway) and then head West on Highway 4, past Coombs to Port Alberni.
History and Weather
Port Alberni was named after Captain Pere d'Alberni, a Spanish officer who commanded Fort San Miguel at Nootka Sound, located on Vancouver Island's west coast, from 1790 to 1792. Prior to the arrival of Europeans, Alberni was occupied by the Nuu-Chah-Nulth tribe, also known as the Nootka. Today, the city boasts a sprawling population of 17,548. For decades, the city's main industries have been logging and mining but the town has recently emerged as a tourist hub. The city and its adjoining valleys enjoy a moderate Mediterranean climate and are increasingly attracting tourists.
Things to Do in Port Alberni
Port Alberni sits beneath Mount Arrow Smith and is surrounded by mountains on all sides. Tourists that enjoy hiking, cycling and mountain biking set their eyes on the Log Train Trail, a mesmerizing abandoned train track that follows all the way in to Alberni valley. Or trek to Della Falls, the highest waterfall in Canada. Stroll through the awe-inspiring old forest growth of the cathedral grove, the spiritual home of tree huggers, through accessible forest trails that wind through breathless canopies, under the shadows of mighty ancient Douglas fir trees.
The Alberni inlet is a hub for fishing charter operators traversing the narrow lengthy ocean fjord to the Pacific. Cast a line at sea, Sproat or the Somass lakes to try your luck at catching a Chinook, sockeye and salmon. The inlet flaunts a plethora of water pursuits, such as swimming, surfing, boating, water-skiing, canoeing, kayaking, wakeboarding, tuning, sailing, jet skiing and house boating. Fishing is the lifeblood of the city, also known as the salmon city, and its water is home to five different kinds of Salmon and yearly runs of steelheads.
Another popular activity in the area is wildlife sightings and is highlighted by the black bears that are seen foraging near the Somass River at low tide. This can be safely viewed from the Victoria Quay, close to the ancient sculpture of Nuu-Chah-Nulth's whaler's canoe. For the best bird watching experience, visit the Somass Estuary, which is home to a large winter population of trumpeter swans.
For a vintage experience, board a train on the Alberni Pacific railway, pulled by the newly refurbished and renovated 1929 Baldwin ex-logging locomotive, and ride on to the Mclean Mill National historic site. The McLean Sawmill is the only operational steam-operated sawmill and speaks volumes of the city's rich legacy and industrial roots. Also explore the city's heritage and behold relics and artifacts from the Nuu chah Nulth arts and culture at the Alberni Valley museum.
Year-round festivals and merriments are treasures of the Alberni port, including the and drag races. These low-cost fairs incorporate activities for all age groups and give tourists and locals a chance to win big!
Port Alberni incorporates a plethora of affordable hotels, B&Bs and motels for tourists. Fishing lodges are also popular amongst the adventure stricken souls. The downtown waterfront hosts funky backpacker hostels for solo summer travelers. The Stamp River and Sproat Lake also enclose more than 80 campsites for RV adventurers. All other resort towns on the Vancouver Island are at easy daytrip destinations from Port Alberni.