Day Tripping to Bamfield via the Frances Barkley, Lady Rose Marine Services, Port Alberni
Day tripping to Bamfield is usually done via 90 km of logging roads from Port Alberni- or even further if starting from Victoria and travelling through Lake Cowichan. A less-common but well-loved way to get to Bamfield is via boat. The Frances Barkley, operated by Lady Rose Marine Services of Port Alberni, travels to remote West Coast communities such as Bamfield and Kildonan in the Barkley Sound region to deliver supplies. They also offer a day trip for tourists. You accompany the supply run to Bamfield, departing at 8am and arriving back at 5pm. A few hours each direction are spent traveling up and down the Alberni Inlet to reach the small community. The sights are beautiful and on a warm sunny day, spending time on the deck is incredibly relaxing.
Things to Do Onboard
Onboard, there is a simple coffee shop in the ships galley which serves hot beverages, basic alcohol, sandwiches and burgers. This is great since the trip to and from Bamfield is an all day endeavor! There are plenty of places to hangout on the ship, so you can change it up throughout the day. There are also tons of cool ship details to observe, and I loved the historic feel. Once the boat stops in Bamfield, you only have about one hour of exploring. The captain makes an announcement which recommends you either walk their waterfront boardwalk or take a short trip to Brady’s Beach and spend your time there. You don’t have time for both, so you’ll have to choose. When we got off the dock, the local dogs greeted all of us with happy wagging tails and appreciated the affection! It was such a cute and friendly welcoming to the quaint town.
Spending time in Bamfield in March
My friends and I walked the boardwalk slowly, admiring the picturesque houses and loving all the little quirks such as the Bamfield Kitties bench, succulents planted in gum boots, the awesome tree house outhouse, and driveways full of keys. There were information signs to tell you about certain histories of the place too. We went in mid-March where they usually run a half-price special, and it ended up being a relatively mild day with no rain! I’d definitely recommend bringing a rain jacket and warm clothing at all times though when travelling the West Coast.
We only just did this trip last for the first time in 2019, and we’ve all always wanted to do it! As a local, it’s one of those well-known things to do but does require a full day so you put it off. I absolutely loved travelling historically and felt like I was experiencing an important part of Vancouver Island history. This was, once upon a time, the only way West Coast communities received mail and supplies. The frequency of these supply drops were far less than today, and there were no planes or roads during that time either. This particular run had started over sixty years ago! Back then, when the boat arrived, everybody gathered and helped disperse the goods. People looked forward to receiving letters back from loved ones, equipment that was preventing them from finishing important building tasks, medical supplies and other essential things were all greatly anticipated.
If you’ve had the pleasure of experiencing the Frances Barkley Bamfield trip and would love another similar experience, I would recommend the MV Uchuck out of Gold River that services the Nootka Island region. Check out Lady Rose Marine Services website here for more information or to book your trip today! https://ladyrosemarine.com/