After stops in Big White and Cathedral Grove on our Vancouver Island road trip, we followed the map to Tofino and Ucluelet. How does one begin to describe Tofino? As a genuine prarie gal, being near the ocean always resonates deeply with me since I don’t see it often, but something about Tofino was different. It feels like coming home. I left a part of myself there, and I swear that I’ll go back someday.
From the east coast of Vancouver island, there is only one road that travels west to Tofino. It winds along the edge of cliffs overlooking crystal clear lakes, and into the depths of forests overgrown with towering trees. It was Middle Earth. I enjoyed the drive so much, even if the dips and turns gave me a bit of a head rush and tummy butterflies now and then. Tofino can be described in a single phrase that I picked up from local café The Tofitian…End of the Road Culture. Once you’ve travelled all the way west on that single road, it stops completely and there is nothing left in front of you but the big blue Pacific ocean. With no destination ahead, you are content to just be.
Oh, that endless sand stretched out in front of you, colliding with the ocean and the sky. We rented a beautiful A-frame airbnb a short walk away from Chesterman beach, close enough to hear the sound of waves crashing against the sand from the front porch. The master bedroom was a treehouse, with a bank of huge windows overlooking the forest. Waking up with the soft morning light was perfection.
I strolled Chesterman beach so many times during our 4 day stay that I lost count. It was the perfect place. I walked the beach in the morning, with fog so thick you couldn’t differentiate between water and sky. I sprawled on it during mid day, the sky so blue you could get lost in it and the sun high overhead, dancing across the waves. I marvelled at it in silence during sunset, the sky on fire and whales playing on the horizon. I strolled it in awe late at night with a glass of wine in hand, looking up into the inky darkness and taking in entire galaxies. It felt new every time.
WILD PACIFIC TRAIL
I would move to Ucluelet tomorrow if it meant walking or running the Wild Pacific Trail every day. We walked the Lighthouse Loop along the ocean shore, listening to the distant lighthouse bell clang and the horn wail, muffled by the fog. At certain points, you can pick your way down a small and rough path to the rocky shore and get up close and personal with the water. If you find yourself in the Tofino area, do this walk. Stop often. Breathe deeply. It offers views of the shoreline like no other.
We only took a quick stop on this beach, because we wanted to stroll through the Kwisitis Visitor Centre which is apparently an awesome museum and restaurant, but alas, it was closed. The beach was beautiful, and the shoreline is full of driftwood. I wanted to haul a bunch of it home!
This trail in Pacific Rim National Park is unique in that you walk along boardwalks that weave in, around, above and below the giant rainforest trees. The air is thick with moisture and everywhere you look is lush green. We walked along a small creek at the bottom of the valley, large bridges made of fallen logs, and watched the rays of light stream through the canopy to reach the forest floor far below.
More boardwalks, more lush forest, more beach. On repeat, for days. My heart was so happy, and I couldn’t get my fill. I wanted to bottle it all up and take it home with me, ready at a moments notice in case of a bad mood or particularly frigid winters day.
On Chesterman Beach again, this time at sunset on a small outcropping called Frank Island. We discovered the most mesmerizing reflections in the tide pools. A pod of whales played on the horizon as the sun sank below the horizon. How much more perfect can you get?
Tacofino – for the best tacos of your life.
Big Daddy’s Fish Fry – for delicious, finger licking fish and chips.
The Sugar Shack – for ice cream sweet treats!
Tofitian – for heavenly End of the Road coffees and swag.
Tofino Brewing Company – for beer flights and growlers.
Rubio – for modern artisan jewelry. I brought home a dainty silver ring that reminds me of the Tofino driftwood, and a gorgeous multi-strand silver necklace with stones and charms.
Caravan Beach Shop – for a perfectly curated assortment of Pacific Northwest goodies, from clothing to jewelry to housewares. I wanted to spend hours there!
Give surfing lessons a try – I was too chicken but it looks like a blast.
Walk as many trails as your feet can handle – each one feels different and so invigorating.
Go on a whale watching tour – my MIL went and had an amazing time!
Rent kayaks – paddle in and out of all the inlets and coves and get up close and personal with the ocean.