Skip to Content

25 Things To Do In Port Alberni (2024)

Port Alberni is a small city on Vancouver Island, offering a wide range of activities for nature lovers and adventure seekers.

From kayaking in the city's crystal clear lakes to exploring the area's local history, Port Alberni has something to offer everyone.

I've written this guide with the top 25 things to do in Port Alberni to inspire you to visit this unknown destination in British Columbia.

Whether you're visiting as a day trip or spending several days in the area, you'll be sure to find something to your liking.

So grab your camera, your sense of adventure, and your enthusiasm and get ready for a trip to the city of Port Alberni!

25 things to do in Port Alberni

Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!). We're very grateful when you use our links to make a purchase:-).


Port Alberni frequently asked questions

Is Port Alberni worth a visit?

Yes, absolutely! Port Alberni is known for its rich natural beauty, it's surrounded by lush forests, mountains, lakes, and rivers.

As such, there are many outdoor activities to enjoy in the area, such as fishing, hiking, camping, kayaking, and whale watching.

Port Alberni also has a vibrant arts scene, with many galleries and performance venues, as well as a bustling downtown area with shops, restaurants, and other attractions. It's home to the Alberni Valley Museum and the McLean Mill National Historic Site.

So read on to find out what else you can see and do in Port Alberni!

View from the Port Alberni Fire lookout

How far is Port Alberni from the ocean?

Port Alberni is located on Vancouver Island, Canada, and is situated approximately 152 km (95 miles) from the Pacific Ocean. It's the closest major city to the Alberni Inlet, a long, deep inlet of the Pacific Ocean.

Are there bears in Port Alberni?

Yes, there are a lot of black bears on Vancouver Island and they're also present in the Port Alberni area. If you're planning a visit to Port Alberni, make sure to follow the safety guidelines for bear encounters.

Do you go through Port Alberni to get to Tofino?

Yes, you can get to Tofino (and Ucluelet) from Port Alberni. From Port Alberni, it’s about a two-hour drive along Highway 4. There are plenty of scenic stops along the way, so take your time and enjoy this road trip!

?Short on time? Check out this 4-day adventure tour to Vancouver Island, including the most popular highlights in Victoria, Nanaimo, and Tofino. 

How to get to Port Alberni, Vancouver Island?

Port Alberni is located on Vancouver Island and you either have to take a ferry or a plane to get to the island.

By ferry

Ferry to Vancouver Island

From Vancouver, you've got several ferry options:

  • Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay (4 km north of Nanaimo): 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Tsawwassen to Duke Point (12 km south of Nanaimo): 2 hours
  • Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay (about 30km north of Victoria): 1 hour and 35 minutes

You can find more information about BC ferries, their timetable, and prices here. I personally very much enjoyed the ferry ride as it's a beautiful route and if you're (very) lucky you may even spot a killer whale along the way.

There are ferries from the U.S.A. to Vancouver Island as well, departing from Port Angeles and Seattle.

By plane

Both Victoria as well as Nanaimo have local airports and there are direct flights to and from Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto.

For those looking to make a spectacular entrance, you can fly to Vancouver Island via seaplane as well, it’s only a scenic 20-minute flight from downtown Vancouver.

How to get from the ferry/airport to Port Alberni?

Port Alberni is a 90-minute drive from Nanaimo and a 3-hour drive from Swartz Bay.

I highly recommend renting a car, it's the best way to explore Vancouver Island because it enables you to travel at your own pace and visit more remote locations.

You can also rent a campervan. Please note that most campervans can only be picked up in Vancouver.

If you are planning to stay in Canada for a longer period of time, consider buying a car instead of renting one.

How to get around Port Alberni?

Red campervan with mountains in backdrop Canada

Port Alberni's downtown core is very walkable and several sights included in this post can be reached on foot (provided you're staying in Port Alberni's city center).

However, many of the trailheads are difficult or downright impossible to reach without your own wheels. Plus, there are several other attractions that are a bit further afield but definitely worth a visit.

Having your own wheels gives you the freedom to stop wherever you want and explore the best places around Port Alberni!

Where to stay in Port Alberni?

There are several accommodation options in Port Alberni, suitable for any budget. No matter if you're looking for a nice B&B, hotel, or a converted tugboat, below you can find my recommendations.

HotelDistance to downtownPriceReview scoreBook
Beaver Hut Bed And Breakfast8.2 km135 CAD9.5Click here
Best Western Plus Barclay Hotel2.1 km335 CAD7.9Click here
Swept Away Inn0.8 km225 CAD8.7Click here

Note: if you're visiting in high season, it's recommended to book ahead, especially for the months of July and August. The prices mentioned in the tables above are a rough indication of the price per night to help you compare the different options. Use ‘click here' to see the latest prices on Booking and book ahead to get the best deal.

Are you camping on Vancouver Island? In this post, you can find 10 great free and paid campgrounds.

What to do in Port Alberni: map

Click here for the interactive map.

Plan your Canada trip like a pro with these tools:
✈️ Find the best flight deals with
? Rent a campervan for your Canada road trip (or a car via
? Arrange your Canada working holiday with Global Work & Travel.
? Plan your journey with the Canada Lonely Planet.
?️ Find the best hotel deals on
? Join the best tours in Canada via Get Your Guide or Viator.
?️ Travel safely and get reliable travel insurance from Safety Wing.

Top things to do in Port Alberni  

1. Alberni Valley Museum

Alberni Valley museum is one of the top attractions of Port Alberni. One of the finest community museums in all of British Colombia, here you will get to know a lot about, not only Alberni but British Columbia as well.

You will see Nuu Chah Nulth art, historical items, photos, folk art, etc. Plus, you'll also learn about British Columbia's industrial age and gain some fascinating insights into the local farming communities.

The museum is open year-round but it's closed on Sundays and Mondays. More details about opening hours are found here.

2. MacMillan Provincial Park

Moss-covered trees in Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island

A forested area, Macmillan Park is a paradise for nature lovers and one of the best things to do near Port Alberni. Enjoy the crisp air as you walk on the well-marked flat hiking trails and groves.

The highlight of Macmillan Provincial Park is Cathedral Grove which is known for its 800 years old trees! There's even a giant Douglas-fir which is 76 meters tall and has a 9 meters circumference.

I loved this ancient forest with its massive trees, all covered in moss and lichen. The sunlight filtering through the trees makes it feel like a magical place. 

3. Cameron Lake

Cameron lake is known for its calm and clear water. You can boat, kayak, swim, or fish here. There are a few picnic tables too.

They have a telescope to look out at the beautiful scenery. Cameron Lake is known for some peculiar sightings. Sometimes a very large black eel-like body has been seen under the clear waters. What it is, remains a mystery. 

4. Sproat Lake Provincial Park

With ample greenery, trails, and a clean water body, Sproat Lake Provincial Park is a favorite picnic spot for many.

Depending on the weather, you can indulge in water sports such as swimming, boating, fishing, water skiing, etc. On a clear day, Sproat Lake offers some great sunset views.

There's also a short trail that leads along the lake to K’ak’awin, one of the best-preserved petroglyphs in British Columbia.

K’ak’awin - best preserved petroglyphs in British Columbia

5. Twin City Brewing Company

The well-crafted beers at the Twin City Brewing Company are absolutely divine. Each beer has a distinct aroma, flavor, and taste to it.

Twin City Brewing Company also serves some great food including pizzas, sandwiches, and more. If you're a meat lover, you'll also love this place as they're known for its great meat quality.

There is both indoor and outdoor seating available and there are some fun games for the kids so you may even get to take a bite of your food while it's still warm;-). 

6. Port Alberni Harbour Quay

Port Alberni harbourfront

Alberni Harbour Quay is one of the fun and popular places in Port Alberni. It has a lot of shops, galleries, activities, and a clock tower.

You can climb the Clock Tower to get some panoramic views of the Alberni inlet and the surrounding area. There's also a playground and some nice and easy walks.

If you happen to visit on a Saturday, be sure to visit the Spirit Square Farmer’s Market (9 am to noon). Shop for fresh local produce, treats, handicrafts, souvenirs, and more. Or simply hang out at the market to enjoy the atmosphere.

7. Cruise around on the Lady Rose Marine

Lady Rose Marine is an iconic and popular ship that mostly sails in the Alberni inlet. It's a passenger and cargo ship which will take you to Kildonan and Bamfield.

You might spot black bears as well as some seals, and otters on the river banks. 

8. Hike to the Hole in the Wall

The Hole in the Wall is one of the top attractions of Port Alberni. This isn't a natural phenomenon but a man-made spectacle.

The hole was drilled for a large pipeline to go through it. While the pipe is no longer there, the hole in the rock remains. You can even stand inside the hole if the ground is not too slippery or muddy.

The entrance to this short trail can be found just off the side of the Alberni Highway, across Coombs Country Candy. The hike to the Hole in the Wall is about 1.3 kilometers, it's an easy walk that takes around 15 minutes (one-way). 

9. Beaver Pond Trail

Beaver Pond Trail is part of the wetland and you can spot some rare and endangered species here. Local species like Mallards, wood ducks, and hooded mergansers nest in this area.

There are also lots of ducks, toads, and frogs and if you're very lucky you may even spot the endangered western painted turtle.

All in all, Beaver Pond is a perfect place for wildlife viewing and a great place to relax and enjoy the natural scenery.

Plus, because it's only an easy stroll, visiting Beaver Pond is a great outdoor activity for all age groups.

10. Mount Arrowsmith

With an elevation of 1870 meters, Mount Arrowsmith is the highest peak in Alberni. Arrowsmith Mountain is located in Mount Arrowsmith Massif Regional Park which is spread over an area of 1300 hectares.

This beautiful park has a unique biosphere, with 3 main bio geo-climatic zones and very diverse landscapes such as basalt rocks, alpine trees, and an old-growth forest.

In Mount Arrowsmith Regional Park there are lots of different hiking trails to choose from. No matter if you're looking for an adventurous hike or an easy family trail, there's a perfect hiking trail for everyone!

Check Alltrails for their top 10 recommended hikes.

11. Blue Fish Gallery

You can spot Blue Fish Gallery from a distance because of the two big blue fishes painted on its white boundary wall.

Set in a cozy cottage, it is essentially a gift shop and an art gallery. You will find a unique and eclectic collection of products handcrafted by artisans and artworks painted by local artists.

12. Stamp River Provincial Park

Salmon migration at the Stamp River fish ladder

Stamp River is one of the prominent rivers of British Columbia. Named after this river, the Stamp River Provincial Park has some beautiful waterfalls, lush greenery, and some breathtaking rapids.

The highlight of this park is the fish ladder. It offers great views of salmon fish struggling their way up the falls, journeying back to their spawning beds.

If you visit during the salmon migration season (from late summer all the way into December) you can see millions of Pacific salmon circling in the pool below before ascending the fish ladders.

You might also spot black bears, eagles, and herons waiting patiently as they try to catch their meal.

Stamp River fish ladder at Vancouver Island

13. McLean Mill National Historic Site

McLean Mill National Historic Site is a historic site and the only remaining steam-powered sawmill on Vancouver Island.

Visitors will be charmed by the towering sawdust piles, mill machinery, saws, and vast engine house. Take a step back in time and experience the true heart and soul of the mill.

While the site is open from dawn to dusk, 365 days a year, you cannot enter any of the buildings during the fall and winter months.

You can still take a self-guided tour around the site, maps are available in the Map Box on the side of the Administration building. Learn more about the McLean Mill here.

14. Kiteboarding

Port Alberni, is one of the best locations in all of British Columbia for kiteboarding. The killer combination of wind, weather, and water in the Alberni inlet is just perfect.

It may look like a very difficult sport, but if you are an enthusiastic and keen learner you should be able to learn the basics in a day’s time. There are different kite-boarding schools that charge by the hour.

15. Cougar Smith Bike Skills Park

Bike lovers should head to the Cougar Smith Bike Skills Park. You will come across different kinds of turfs and surfaces made of top-quality material. This makes it a bike lover's favorite.

There are lots of different tracks: a beginner pumptrack, slopestyle dirt jump trails, downhill flow trails, and a beginner flow line. 

16. Mountain biking

With so many National Parks and offbeat trails, biking around Port Alberni is an incredible mix of adventure and calmness. Port Alberni has numerous mountain bike trails with different expertise levels.

Some are steep, some flat, and some rocky. A few will take you to the top of a mountain from where you can enjoy some spectacular views. Others will take you around ponds and river streams.

Unsure about which one to choose? See all trail options here

17. Scubing diving and snorkeling

Alberni not only has unique wildlife above the ground but also lots of marine life within its pristine and clear waters.

Scuba diving and snorkeling are two great ways to see what lies under the pristine clear waters of Port Alberni. 

There are several dive spots around Port Alberni to choose from. China Creek particularly is a diver’s favorite. It not only has some beautiful marine life but a shipwreck too!

18. Maritime Discovery Center

The Maritime Discovery Centre is an effort of the Maritime Heritage society to preserve the maritime heritage of the west coast of Vancouver Island. It's a tiny museum with several artifacts retrieved from shipwrecks.

Vancouver Lighthouse is just next to it, and you can climb to see some great views of Port Alberni Inlet.

19. Nuh Cha Nath Whaling Monument

Nuu-chah-nulth are an indigenous tribe of British Columbia with a rich culture and beautiful works of art.

Inside the Nuh Cha Nath Whaling Museum is a Nuh Cha Nath Whaling Canoe sculpture which is 30 feet in size. The sculpture depicts the Nuh Cha Nath people chasing a whale.

Outside on the green lawn, there are giant wooden figurines making it easy for one to spot the museum from a distance.

20. Rollin Art Center

Rollin Art Centre is a community-run center for art lovers. The center's main purpose is to promote local art and several pieces by local artists are displayed here.

If you've been looking for an original piece of art, be sure to visit, you may find the perfect work of art waiting for you there!

If you're visiting during the summer months, be sure to enjoy a cup of tea on the rooftop.

21. Rack and Rally Social Hub

Rack and Rally Social hub is a great place for youngsters as it has an upbeat vibe. You can play pool and listen to music.

It has a karaoke bar, so if you like to sing your lungs out with a friend, this place is for you. This place also serves some great food and beverages. Open from 8:00 p.m. (until late).  

22. Robertson Creek Fish Hatchery

Port Alberni is also known as the salmon capital of the world. If you want to learn more about these incredibly strong fish, visit Robertson Creek Fish Hatchery.

You will see hundreds of salmon in their pens. This educational visit is great for families with kids as you'll learn a lot about the salmon's life cycle.

23. Fish and Duck Sproat Lake Resort

Rent a boat at the Fish and Duck Sproat Lake resort and get out on the water!

Adrenaline seekers can go wake surfing. You can also rent a SUP (stand-up paddle board) for a more laid-back experience. Or opt for a pontoon boat for a relaxed day out for the whole family.


24. Bare Bones Fish House and Smokery

A contemporary restaurant, Bare Bones Fish House and Smokery is an old church converted into a restaurant. It's a warm and inviting place with an extensive menu.

Bare Bones serves innovative seafood, in-house smoked meat, tacos, and burgers and there are some tasty beers on tap.

As the name suggests, there are a lot of fish options to choose from. In fact, you can choose your fish, coatings, and preferred side dishes.

25. Golf Club Alberni

The Golf Club in Alberni has been a local favorite since the 1920s but for the outsiders, it remains a hidden jewel.

If you play golf, this is a great place to spend an afternoon on a warm and sunny day. You can also grab a bite to eat (or drink) as there is a restaurant and a bar onsite.

Port Alberni best places to visit: in conclusion

In conclusion, Port Alberni is a hidden gem located on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. From the unique wildlife experiences and the array of outdoor activities to the vibrant art scene, this little city has a lot to offer.

Whether you’re spending a weekend or an entire week, Port Alberni is sure to provide a memorable visit!

If you've got any questions, leave a comment below or send me a message. For more Vancouver Island travel tips, check these posts:

Also read my other Canada articles for more travel inspiration.

Micah Field

Tuesday 4th of April 2023

You should change number 19. The Nuh-Chah-Nulth people are still around and saying they "were" a tribe makes it sound like they don't exist anymore.

Besides that, thanks for the list!


Thursday 6th of April 2023

Dear Micah,

Thank you very much for noticing this, I've adjusted it immediately!

Best regards, Lotte

Ps. Glad to hear you did enjoy the list overall:-)