Because Port Alberni is a deepwater port and important fishing and lumber-shipping center, it's harbor is the city's focal point. Surrounded by mountains, lakes and forests, the city is a good base for naturalists and outdoor enthusiasts. Nearby Mount Arrowsmith is a popular alpine and cross-country ski area, and Sproat Lake Provincial Park features Indian carvings of mythological beasts. At Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park, there are hundreds of giant Douglas firs, dating from the 12th century. The region's natural wonders are protected by the Martin Mars Water Bombers, huge aircraft designed to combat forest fires. They're based at Sproat Lake.
Local mills are offering mill tours and visits to logging sites. Visitors are able to ride a steam train at the newly restored E & N Railiner station at Harbour Quay and the visit the McLean Mill National Historic Site.