Tofino winter waves

  • 77 total images
  • 04 days
  • 17 activities total

Everyone associates surfing with the West Coast, but many people don’t know that British Columbia is home to one of the West Coast’s greatest surf meccas. Tofino offers the perfect mixture of big waves and small town charm. It took a bit of convincing to get us out into the water in the middle of winter (the best time to surf, according to locals) but the chill of the ocean was more than offset by the hot tub and hot springs.

Day 1
Crossing the strait
We arrived at Horseshoe Bay with time to spare, and sat sipping coffee while our ferry emerged from the morning mist. By the time we boarded, the mist had burned away, revealing clear blue skies and lush coastlines to either side of the vessel. Kris struck up a conversation with an Islander who was playing guitar on the deck. He recommended that we check out Cathedral Grove on the way to Tofino. All of a sudden, we heard an announcement over the loudspeaker: “WHALES OFF THE PORT SIDE”. Once we reached Vancouver Island, we took the local’s advice and stopped at Cathedral Grove to admire 800-year-old Douglas-fir trees as tall as skyscrapers. As we continued down the highway, Andrea spotted a swimming hole and we pulled over for a quick dip. Finally, we pulled into Tofino and hunkered down to dream about catching the perfect wave.
Day 2
Surf’s up
The day began with a visit to Tofino’s legendary Surf Sister, where we geared up and met our surfing instructor, Lisa. We pulled on wetsuits and headed down to Long Beach. Kris had surfed before, so he had no trouble getting up on his board, but the rest of us took some time to find our balance. After a few tumbles in the surf, we started to get the hang of it. Soon we were catching waves like the pros — if the pros surf two-footers. We headed back to the cabin to warm up with a soak in the hot tub, and then walked to Wickaninnish Beach to stretch our legs along the coastline. After the day’s workout, we knew we'd all sleep like logs.
Day 3
Hot Springs Cove
Our stiff legs reminded us we weren’t quite pro surfers… yet. After a few morning stretches, we gathered for breakfast on the patio. Andrea sketched the scenery while Kris waxed his board and we all reminisced about the waves we had ridden the day before. Jill spotted some bikes in the shed, so we rode down the beach to the water taxi that would take us to Hot Springs Cove. After a short ride across the water, we arrived at the rainforest walk to the springs. Any tension that we had been holding in our bodies dissolved as we soaked in the hot, mineral-rich water. Andrea compared it to an outdoor hot tub, but we all agreed that the water here was much, much cleaner. We returned to town for dinner and drinks at Sobo, ending the night feeling more relaxed than we had in years.
Day 4
Making memories
Since it was our last day in Tofino, we ventured into town in search of local treasures to commemorate our trip. Jill pointed out a glass-blowing studio called Spirit of the Fire, and we walked in to find the shopkeeper working with a piece of molten glass that was slowly taking on the shape of a starfish. Sol, the shopkeeper and artisan, invited us to watch as he put the finishing touches on his piece. When the demonstration had ended, Andrea picked out a multicoloured glass vase, and Jill left with a starfish like the one that Sol had just created. After a few last photos on the beach, it was time to head back across the island to the ferry and mainland, and we bet who'd see an eagle, whale or wonder first.