Tofino is a world-famous tourist destination that attracts hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of visitors each year. Uclulet is more difficult to pronounce, but it is just down the road. While tourism is alive and growing there, the attractions toward the southern end of Pacific Rim National Park are generally a bit less busy. Halfmoon Bay is a gem of a beach near Uclulet that is a great choice for people who enjoy their solitude. In addition to being further from Tofino, the 1.7-kilometre hike down to the beach includes 123 stairs, which also seems to deter a good portion of those who might otherwise find their way down there.
As it turns out, the joke’s on them, because the hike is beautiful and the picturesque beach at the bottom of the staircase definitely makes it worth the effort. From the trailhead, the first section of the trail follows the old Willowbrae Road that was once part of the land-sea route between Tofino and Uclulet prior to the completion of the road in 1942 (it's now been converted into a hiking trail only) for about 1.3 kilometers. Eventually the trail splits with the Willowbrae /Florencia Bay trail straight ahead and the Halfmoon Bay Trail branching off to the left. Take this left turn onto the boardwalk, and soon you’ll find yourself looking down the large staircase toward Halfmoon Bay.
This beach is somewhat unique in the area because it is relatively small (just a few hundred meters wide) and is contained on both sides by the landscape. On the east end of the beach a bank of sheer cliffs emerging from the water is the boundary of the bay, while at the western corner the sand transitions to rugged and rocky terrain with endless tide pools teeming with sea life and a row of trees leading out to a point. The bay faces northwest and is protected by a rocky point and some small islands just beyond the western edge of the bay, so you won’t find any surfers down here in the flat water. The swimming is great, but according to signage there is the possibility of hidden rip-currents here, so swim with caution. The parking lot is quite small and there is no sign at the turnoff from the highway, so it's unlikely to be crowded here. During the quieter months it's often deserted.
Note that there will be free entry to all Canadian National Parks for the entirety of 2017 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation.