On the far side of Vancouver Island, looking out onto the Pacific lays Tofino – a true nature lover’s paradise. You can find activities for all ages on in the coastal community ranging from surfing lessons, to whale watching and kayaking to natural hot springs. In my experience, the most striking thing about Tofino was the unrelenting intimacy with the ocean, not matter how good of a swimmer you are.
On both my trips to Tofino, I stayed right on the beach and spent most of my time in the ocean being tossed around in the waves. Chesterman Beach and MacKenzie Beach also both offer accommodations right on the waterfront that vary from campsites to bed and breakfasts so whatever your comfort level is, you’re sure to find a place to stay. You start the day by running down to the water and frolicking on beach and close the day watching one of the most beautiful sun sets, listening to the waves curl on the shore and eating your dinner over the fire or on the porch.
But even if you decide to stay a little farther inland, either of the beaches is a great place for a day trip with kids because both beaches are sheltered so the waves are pretty small. Children can play safely in the gentle waves or learn to body board, a first step towards surfing.
For those of you who are a little more comfortable in the water, Long Beach is the place for you. There’s nothing sheltering the waves coming in from the Pacific, so waves get much bigger than at some of the smaller beaches. The beach is about seven kilometres longs, giving everyone lots of space to swim, surf or just hang out on the beach. Long beach is the most popular beach in Tofino.
Finally, if you’re well versed in the art of surfing, you’re going to want to find Cox Bay Beach which has the strongest surf and the biggest waves. Cox Bay houses some of British Columbia’s best surfing but should defiantly be left to the experts.
If surfing and swimming isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other beach activities for you to try out. Most beaches offer lessons in kayaking or canoeing. You can take a ride around some of the small, rocky islands just off shore. Bring a packed lunch with you and have a picnic on one of the islands.
Another really interesting activity on the Tofino beaches is nature watching. Whale watching tours are available year round on every beach and all through the village but March is the real time to go. Grey whales migrate through the Pacific Rim. You can see the whales on any number of tour boats and then join the festivities in the village for the much celebrated Pacific Rim Whale Festival. The activities include documentary screening, children’s exhibits and many different art displays.
Finally, if you can’t make it to Tofino in March, but still want to see wildlife, head down the road the neighbouring community of Ucluelet to see the wildlife. Amphitrite Point offers the best view of Barkley Sound that houses many animals such as killer whales, gray whales, porpoises, seals, sea lions, sharks, river otters, cormorants and eagles. I’ve always been partial to the seals because they lie on the rocks and bark, putting on a bit of a show for tourists.