Florencia Bay – located at the southern end of Pacific Rim National Park – is one of the most spectacular beaches in the region. Its shore is flanked by steep cliffs and the beach is accessed by staircases at the north and south ends. Access from the south is at the end of Willowbrae Road, and from the north Florencia Bay is reached via Wick Road.
Arching for 5 kilometers, Florencia Bay sits between Half Moon Bay and Long Beach. Its curved shape offers it varied aspects. At the north end the beach has a true southern exposure, the middle faces southwest and then at its southern end Florencia Bay turns to face due west.
Florencia’s name sake was a 200-tonne brigantine that capsized off Vancouver Island in 1860 during a November storm. Four seamen died in the wreck and the ship was badly damaged, but it righted itself and drifted into Nootka Sound where it was pumped out and deemed to be repairable. The HMS Forward was dispatched from Esquimalt to tow her back to Victoria. On route back to Victoria the Forward experienced engine trouble and had to cast the Florencia off. A storm blew up and wrecked the Florencia into this bay. The bay was originally called Wreck Bay on account of the ship’s remains and was renamed Florencia Bay in 1930.
At the turn of the 20th century there was a minor gold rush on the Lost Shoe creek near the middle of the bay. Placer gold was discovered in the black beach sand and efforts were made in vain to make its extraction economically viable.
Florencia Bay is one of the quieter locations in the Pacific Rim National Park. Its steep shoreline deter many from venturing there and offers a refuge from the summer crowds and cold westerly winds. This protection from the westerly wind also offers surfers a clean wave to ride during the summer afternoon thermals.
There are many wildlife sightings on Florencia Bay and it’s a good idea to keep all pets under control as there are wolves and bears in the area. The water is known to be a popular spot for stellar sea lions so don’t be surprised to come face to face with one of these giants while paddling for a wave.
- Chesterman Beach in Tofino July 2010
- Cox Bay in Tofino August 2010
- Florencia Bay September 2010
- Tonquin November 2010
- Wickaninnish Beach October 2010