The Hole in the Wall in Port Alberni is a unique man-made phenomenon on Vancouver Island. Years ago a large hole was drilled through the solid rock to make way for an old pipeline. The pipeline has since been removed and what is left behind is a beautiful oasis in the forest where the creek flows through the hole and down into the crystal clear pool below.
You will find this hidden gem just outside of Port Alberni, near the infamous trees at Cathedral Grove. Thousands of people drive past this place each day without realizing it, as they make their way out to Tofino on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. This is the perfect stop to break up the long drive to Tofino, or just to explore if you are in the surrounding area.
The walk to get here is fairly short and simple and the Hole in the Wall is worth making a stop. It’s one of a number of amazing things to do on Vancouver Island. No matter how much time we spend here we always seem to uncover more of the Island’s hidden secrets.
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How to Get to the Hole in the Wall
The entrance to this short trail can be found just off the side of the Alberni Highway. As you come down the hill, driving into Port Alberni from Qualicum Beach, almost directly opposite Coombs Country Candy is the trailhead on the south side of the highway. There is some parking on the highway right next to the entrance (room for only 3-4 cars), or alternatively, there is a small parking lot next to Coombs Country Candy where you can leave your car.
If you have a sweet tooth you can park in the Coombs Country Candy car park and treat yourself to some delicious sweets and chocolate once you return from your hike.
There is very little to mark the entrance other than a small gravel path that leads into the trees. After following this path into the trees there is a small handmade, wooden sign nailed to one of the trees with ‘Hole in the Wall’ painted onto it.
After a few minutes of walking the path emerges from the trees and into a clearing where the path splits in two. Take the right hand path, which is much more wide open than the beginning of the trail. The gravel track is very well defined and although there are many little paths that split off along the way, you just need to stay on the main trail.
After a few hundred metres walking along the path the trail splits off to the left and down a steep hill. There is another small wooden sign nailed to one of the trees which directs you down the hill towards the hole. A short descent down this steep slope, through the beautiful moss covered forest will take you to the final destination. The walk in from the highway should only take around 10 – 15 minutes and it is a very easy walk.
The Hole in the Wall Port Alberni
Once the hill levels out, the forest opens up onto a spectacular swimming hole full of crystal clear water that is being fed by a small creek flowing through a huge hole that has been carved into the rocks here. During the summer this is a great place to come for a refreshing swim, although the water will still be quite cold even in the summer. The surrounding area is also covered in inukshuks, which is also really cool.
One of the remnants of the old pipeline that used to run through here is a large concrete block which has been built right by the water and directly in front of the hole. Two fallen trees slope up to the top of the concrete block and you can test your balance by walking along the tree trunks to stand atop of this perfect viewing platform.
It’s an awesome spot to hang out and although you are only around 6 feet from the forest floor it gives you a great view up and down the creek as well as looking down on the clear water from above.
There are several trails criss-crossing through the forest here which you can explore. We followed one a short way down the creek, further away from the Hole in the Wall in order to find an easy way to cross. Around the corner from the swimming hole is another fallen tree, which has created a natural bridge across the creek. We made our way across to examine the Hole in the Wall up close.
On a sunny day in the summer it would be much easier to swim or wade across, but unfortunately we visited later in the season and weren’t bold enough to brave the cold.
The walk up to the hole was a little tricky as it was wet and slippery and covered in loose rocks. But once you make it to the base, you will be able to walk right through the hole. While it looks impressive from across the creek, it was even more awesome to be standing in the middle of it.
You can plant your feet on either side of the creek and have the water flow between your legs as you look up at the huge cavern that has been shorn out of the rocks. On the far side of the hole two creeks converge to flow through the hole and feed the swimming hole below. On this other side of the hole, there are also some more trails for you to discover.
Once we had had our fill, we made our way back to the car. The journey back is slightly uphill almost all of the way, but only the first hundred metres would be considered steep before it levels out. Plus, the walk only takes 10-15 minutes, making it an easy walk back.
There are no facilities here so you will have to take out what you bring in. As we mentioned before, you have the option to satisfy your sweet tooth at Coombs Country Candy before you leave. The place smells amazing and there are so many delicious looking handmade treats on offer here.
Where to Stay
Budget: Char’s Landing Hostel – A good place for those travelling on a budget. No frills accommodation with free wi-fi, a shared lounge and a communal sun deck.
Mid-Range: Hummingbird Guesthouse – Situated on a 2 acre property on the banks of the Somass River. Enjoy the hot tub, games room or just sit on the spacious deck and enjoy the sun.
Luxury: Cedar Wood Lodge Bed and Breakfast Inn – With large, well-appointed rooms, two libraries and a games room, there is plenty to enjoy here. There is also a daily breakfast buffet including fresh home-made pastries.
Want to know exactly what we pack for a day out hiking? Check out our quick list below or read our full guide for what to bring on a day hike here.
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We had made the journey out to Tofino so many times before and never stopped at the Hole in the Wall in Port Alberni until recently. It is such a cool spot and one that is definitely worth stopping at, especially considering how quick and easy the trail to get here is.
Make sure the next time you head out to the rugged West Coast of Vancouver Island you make some time to stop and enjoy Port Alberni’s Hole in the Wall.
Looking for more adventures on Vancouver Island? Check out our other blog posts on the area: