Fire Restrictions in Effect for this Park
Please Note: During a campfire ban, smoking is restricted in all public areas of a park or protected area. Please read this Information Bulletin [PDF 79KB].
Activites and Facilities Available in this Park - Click icon to view
Activities Available at this Park
Facilities Available at this Park

Vargas Island Provincial Park

Updated November 18, 2016: Wolf advisory for Vargas Island Provincial Park
It is imperative that park visitors going to Vargas Island:
  • Be extremely mindful about how they store their food as wolves have learned how to get into kayak hatches;
  • Have equipment available to hang food in the event food caches are full.
  • Due to high frequency of wolves coming into campsites during the night, BC Parks is advising against campers sleeping outside their tents.
  • Park visitors are advised to not bring pets to Vargas Island or Flores Island. Dogs are a high level attractant to wolves and other large carnivores. Protect your pet – keep them at home.

Know Before You Go

Safety Notes:
  • Please do your part when recreating in wolf country and help keep wolves wild. Please click the links for specific information on how to avoid wolf encounters and to practice proper backcountry etiquette.
  • If you encounter an aggressive wild animal, report it by calling the Conservation Officer Service 24-hour hotline toll free at 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP) or #7277 on the Telus Mobility Network.

Trail Information

The historic 3-km telegraph route that runs East to West is not maintained and some bridges are out. The rough route passes through various jurisdictions including some private property.

Access to Park

Numerous kayak companies under Park Use Permits offer day and multi-day kayak tours to Vargas Island Park. For water taxi service to the park, contact Clayoquot Connections at 250-726-8789 or Tofino Water Taxi at 250-725-8844.

Guiding in Parks

In provincial parks, any person acting as a guide or offering guiding services, including vessel drop offs, must hold a valid Park Use Permit (Park, Conservancy and Recreation Area Regulation, Section 4). Please ensure the company you hire is legally operating in the park.

About This Park

Vargas Island Provincial ParkPhotoGallery

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.

Established Date: July 12, 1995

Park Size: 5,805 hectares (1,543 hectares upland and 4,262 hectares foreshore)
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Location and Maps

Please note: Any maps listed are for information only – they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation. 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.

Maps and Brochures

Any maps listed are for information only – they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
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Nature and Culture

  • Cultural Heritage: A number of Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations heritage sites are located within the park.
  • Conservation: The park protects the rugged, outer coast of Vargas Island, Blunden Island and the marine environment. Many marine features are represented in the park, including exposed rocky coast, sand beaches, sheltered channels and bays, a lagoon and mudflats. Gray whales migrate through the off-shore waters. The park also encompasses ancient dune berms, rows of crescent shaped sand mounds that indicate earlier sea levels. Vargas Island Provincial Park includes the Cleland Island Ecological Reserve, which is home to a variety of nesting sea birds including the Rhinoceros auklet, Cassin’s auklet, Pigeon guillemot and the Black oystercatcher. Access to the Ecological Reserve is prohibited.
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Management Planning

Management Planning Information
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Activities Available at this Park

Canoeing

Canoeing

Due to its scenic values and close proximity to Tofino, Vargas Island is a very popular paddling and camping destination. Gray whales frequent the Ahous Bay area and the La Croix Group of small islands is a peaceful spot for paddling, bird watching and viewing seals. Kayakers can launch at the First Street Dock in Tofino. Canoeing is not recommended.
Fishing

Fishing

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.
Hiking

Hiking

Exellent beach hiking can be found on the outside beaches of the park.
Hunting

Hunting

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 and Synopsis publication for closures and regulations.
Swimming

Swimming

There are opportunities for ocean swimming at this park. There are no lifeguards at provincial parks.
Wildlife Viewing

Wildlife Viewing

This park has many opportunities for wildlife and nature viewing, including bird viewing in the waters around the Cleland Ecological Reserve, watching for migrating Gray whales and exploring the geological features of the park. These include ancient dune berms – rows of crescent-shaped sand mounds that indicate earlier sea levels. These berms can be seen along the historic telegraph trail.
NOTE: Please abide to current DFO Marine Viewing Guidelines when viewing marine wildlife in BC Parks.
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Facilities Available at this Park

Campfires

Campfires

While small fires are allowed, we encourage visitors to conserve the environment by minimizing the use of fire and using stoves instead. If you do have a fire please use small pieces of wood that will burn completely and keep the fire below the high tide mark. Never build your fire near the beach log piles as the fire could ignite the logs and get out of control; also do not leave your fire unattended and practice “Leave No Trace”.
Pit or Flush Toilets

Pit or Flush Toilets

There are six pit toilets located at Vargas Island’s most popular camping beaches.
Walk-In/Wilderness Camping

Walk-In/Wilderness Camping

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.
Winter Camping

Winter Camping

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.