Ditidaht or Nitinat is a small First Nation Community located on
the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Ditidaht or the 'people along
the way/coast' is situated at the end of a large tidal lake called
Nitinat Lake which is approximately 23 km (14 miles) long.
There are a couple of ways that you can reach Ditidaht. One way
is past Lake Cowichan by using the
North Shore Road through Youbou around 52 km (32 miles) or via the
South Shore Rd and Honeymoon Bay which route is just a little longer.
The other way in is from Port Alberni
70 km (43.5 miles) away by taking the road to Bamfield,
then turn off at Franklin River and follow the Little Nitinat River
Dididat Village is a very small community with limited services.
At one time there was small grocery store with gasoline, a few groceries
and a small café serving quick meals but unfortunately it
has now closed (July 2011). Apparently the public phone outside
the store still works.
is the Nitinat Lake Motel next door to the closed store, basically
besides the campground, the only other accommodation in town.
Lake Motel (250) 745-3844
Continue on the left road and Nitinat Lake is just beyond here by
around 1.8 km (1.1 mile) Look for the Forest Service Recreation
sign that leads to the lake. This is the site where people who chase
North America's winds try the Nitinat Lake for kiteboarding and
Nitinat Lake is deceiving. When you visit the lake early it is unbelievably
calm just like glass. Then, like clockwork from 10 am to 2 pm, the
wind picks up from the west and the place comes alive with kiteboarders
The report about Nitinat is that the wind springs up quickly on
a sunny day and next to "The Gorge" in Washington State
and Padre Island, Texas, this is a regular spot for the world's
'Wind Chasers,' especially during the months from April through
Lake Forest Service Recreation Site
This is a very nice campground along the shores of Nitinat Lake.
The unfortunate problem is that during the summer months it tends
to get quite crowded with people. The campsites along the ocean
are pretty well all taken with an unofficial queue line of who is
next in line for a choice spot. In the back area of the recreation
site there were some campsites empty which tended to have a few
more bugs but were actually quite private.
If you do stay at the campground be prepared. There is no fresh
water available here so make sure you pack in some water. The store
was kind at the time and was allowing people to fill their empty
containers but don't rely solely on this.
If it rains, which does happen, the winds tend to stop, so besides
your windsurfing and kiteboarding equipment bring a bike or kayak,
or walk and be prepared to wait it out. There are a couple of great
little mountain bike trails, 'The Skulls Ride' and a favourite the
'River Loop' which leads to a great little swimming hole on the
holes on the Nitinat River
There are a couple of hidden gems located just outside Nitinat by
around 6 km (4 miles) near Nitinat
River Provincial Park one called 'Red Rock' the other 'The Bridge.'
These swimming holes contain absolutely crystal clear water and
tended to be a little cold but once you're in, the water is excellent.
You can tube for a couple of hours starting at 'The Bridge' to the
beach next to the Nitinat Road. A great thing also because the river
does not follow the road but goes like a horseshoe making it only
a short walking distance back to your car about 1 km (.6 mile).
Just remember if you are enjoying the river and countryside around
Nitinat, please remember this is Bear Country. Try to avoid the
rivers during heavy salmon spawning times unless you feel comfortable
with bears around.
Located on the Franklin River road just past the turnoff to Cowichan
Lake is Canada's largest salmon hatchery located on the Little Nitinat
River. This hatchery has proved to be a great resource for sport
fishing, providing some excellent fishing in Nitinat River, Nitinat
Lake and at Nitinat Narrows and the 'The Gap' a 3 km (2 miles) long
tidal channel where the lake meets the ocean.
Nitinat is just the start of discovering the West Coast of Vancouver
Island. Located at "The Gap" on Nitinat Lake is where
the Dididat operate a ferry across for people hiking the West Coast
Trail in Pacific Rim National Park. The trail goes usually in-between
Port Renfrew and Pachena Bay but can be accessed through Nitinat
with proper reservations and pick up arranged with the West Coast
There is also a little known canoe route close by called the Nitinat
Triangle which rivals the Bowron Lakes circuit located in the Cariboo-Chilcotin.
The circuit involves three pristine lakes called Hobiton, Squalicum,
and Tsusiat Lakes and is a tough 38 km (24 miles) circuit.
Be prepared for some hard portages and plan for at least five days
but you will find the scenery and wildlife well worth it. A permit
is also required by Parks Canada and can be obtained by visiting
The Nitinat Lake Visitor Centre or by contacting Pacific Rim National
There are a couple of provincial parks close to Nitinat. Hitchie
Creek Park accessed from Nitinat Lake is a wilderness campground
offering great opportunities for wildlife viewing and nature appreciation.
Then 1.3 km (.8 mile) from Nitinat is the turnoff to Carmanah/Walbram
Provincial Park where the world's largest spruce trees and one-thousand-years-old
When you travel here please respect the fact that these are logging
roads. Logging is very active both on the Cowichan Main Road and
the Alberni-Franklin Mains, the routes that you need to take in
order to get to Nitinat.
Always be cautious, have your lights on and make sure you pull over
and give all the room you can to these trucks and equipment. There
is no need to hurry; please carry a good spare tire, keep your eyes
on the road and be prepared for dust.