We have had a long drive from Tofino to Jasper over the last few days and on the way we compiled our Tofino Top Ten. We’ve each shared our two favourite experiences and a few of our favourite photos.
So…the short story is we all absolutely loved Tofino! So many friends and travel bloggers had recommended we visit we had high expectations and even these were surpassed. It is the most laid back, chilled place with a surfy vibe and just enough of an injection of the city to keep us urbanites happy. It reminded me of Cornwall but with even more stunning scenery and beaches (sorry Cornish friends). You can get exceptional food, great coffee and even pretty good shopping – which we (I) managed not to indulge in – go me!
Our journey there from Vancouver was pretty spectacular. The weather has been amazing since we arrived and so the ferry crossing was under blue skies and with wonderful views. On Vancouver Island, we stopped at Cathedral Grove in Macmillan provincial park, where some of the tallest Douglas Fir trees stand and the girls got to go inside one of the trunks.
Our VRBO (equivalent of Airbnb) apartment was stunning. Keith said being in the apartment and the view whilst sitting on the balcony overlooking the harbour was actually his favourite thing about our five days in Tofino – I made him choose a couple of others for this blog 🙂 We were right next to the Sea plane dock and so watched planes take off and land all throughout the day.
My favourite thing in Tofino was Bear watching. We went on a boat and we saw about five Bears in the wild. We also saw a ginormous jelly fish in the sea. I got to see how the driver was driving and I sat on his seat for most of the trip. His name was Keith and he was really nice. I really liked him because when we saw a bear he took us really, really close. We saw the Bears moving rocks on the shore trying to find food and crabs. The Bears were black and Betsy really wanted to cuddle them but Keith said they would bite you.
Another of my favourite things was surfing. Surfing was quite hard because I had to carry the board quite a long way and it was really hard standing up. Betsy was really good and I liked watching her a lot. My teacher was called Hannah and she told us how to do it. First of all you get your board and there is some string that you wrap around your ankle. You keep it on there because it attaches the board to your foot so you don’t lose it. Then you take it to a wave and when its quite far away you get on your board by the edge and put your feet at the back. Then you start paddling, when the waves are quite close and then when you’re on the wave you stand up.
I stood up quite a few times but then mum told me to lie down on it because I kept falling down and I was getting quite tired. Lola was the last person in the sea.
My favourite experience in Tofino was ‘Lil Ronnie’a BBQ Shack’. I had Turkey on a bun, the same as mummy and it was the best food you could ever imagine. It was so scrumptious and delicious that it made my mouth water. It was the best turkey I’ve ever had and I’m sure it was the best that everyone else had. I would really like to go back there some day.
My second favourite thing that happened was the ice cream at a place called Chocolate Tofino. I had Toasted S’mores flavour which was the same as Lola, Daddy and a boy we met on the way called Ryan. We met Ryan and his mum Margaret in the line for Tacofino (an amazing taco truck). They were really kind and happy and we had really interesting conversations.
I don’t normally like ice cream but because this was the best ice cream in the world; I liked it.
One of my favourite experiences in Tofino was going surfing. We drove down to the beach at Cox Bay and met our instructor who gave us our wet suits to put on. They were difficult to get on and mine was too baggy and too tight in different places. We got our surf boards and they were hard to carry so Betsy and Willow struggled a bit and could only manage one between them.
Hannah gave us a briefing and then we hit the waves. She told us to wait for a wave and then jump on our surf baords, start paddling and wait for it to hit us. Whilst the wave was pushing us we had to ‘pop up’. I found it quite easy but sometimes as you’re trying to stand up the wave goes past you and you’re standing in still water. It wasn’t too cold because of the wet suits and was really fun so I hope to do it again. You can see the video of us surfing here: http://wp.me/p8Rfni-9c
Another favourite time was when we went down to Chesterman beach and me and Betsy went in the sea and jumped over very big waves. They were so big that in some of them Betsy was pulled under. It was fun because Betsy and I did challenges like having to spin when you’re jumping over one, going under one or holding hands. There were also lots of rocks where we went hunting for starfish but unfortunately we didn’t find any. The only downside was that the water was freezing and when we were holding hands Betsy pulled me under.
One funny thing was when we were in a restaurant, a waiter was collecting our plates and when he took Willow’s he said ‘thank you’ and she replied ‘you’re welcome’ like the song from Moana.
We also all loved paddle boarding. Here are some photos of us on the amazing Tofino beaches…
I really enjoyed surfing. I’d been looking forward to it as something for me to experience on this trip. We booked a family lesson with Surf Sister in Tofino which is an all female Surfing School. They took us to Cox Bay. As a Snowboarder, I felt surfing was something I should have experienced by now.
Everyone did really well and managed to stand up quite quickly. Even though the surfboard landed on my head on my very first wave – which still hurts two days later, I would like to carry on although a bit daunted about the level of commitment (time, cost, logistics etc) needed to get good.
My second favourite experience, like Willow, was Bear watching. We booked a tour which took us on a boat with about 25 other people during the late afternoon. We travelled to the inlets around Tofino where we saw all sorts of wildlife including a Bald Eagle, Sea Lions, Seals, Porpoise (like little dolphins) and of course the Black Bears. It was quite surreal seeing them so close and we all felt really lucky.
My favourites moments in Tofino were i) getting up and staying up on a paddle board, ii) sitting on the deserted shore at the Tofino Botanical Gardens watching the girls swimming in the sea and iii) finding a secret beach (recommended by a local) to watch the most amazing sunset. (I’m allowing myself three because…well just because).
Learning to paddle board was one of the intentions I set myself for this year and so getting a chance to experience it early on and in such a beautiful place will always stay with me. There was a moment, when I was on the board, gliding along the calm waters and I looked around me at the most beautiful scenery and was so, so grateful. I have realised on this trip that feeling and being grateful is not something I practice often and doing this a little more has made me feel extremely happy. Keith filmed me and helpfully provided some commentary…
We visited the Botanical Gardens on our last day and found them to be absolutely stunning. A really quirky place full of strange and wonderful sculptures and woodland trails. The sea shore that surrounds them was so peaceful we felt we were the only people for miles and miles. The water is freezing in Tofino and the girls wanted to go in but were hesitating. Watching them build up the courage and eventually going in was wonderful (and funny).
The sunsets were all incredible but on our last evening we had a magical experience. We had met a local woman on our first day in Tofino. I got chatting to her (as I try to all the time for exactly this reason…) and she gave us lots of tips as well as a pass that gives us free entry into all the national parks in Canada. The generosity and welcoming nature of everyone we have met so far has been so wonderful. Anna told us to go to this beach which we had to access by walking through a beautiful woodland trail. As we neared the beach the light shining through the trees was incredible. They were lit up like tall, tangerine soldiers guarding the entry to this natural wonder. We climbed down some rocks just in time to see the sun set over the water. It was beautiful.
I have no doubt that if at all possible we will be back to Tofino and stay much longer than five days.