I have been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel the world. Exploring exotic and distant lands. Learning about unique cultures and cuisine. Seeing landscapes of sea and mountain. Yet when I moved to British Columbia from Ontario earlier this year, I decided that it was time to start exploring my own backyard. I had spent all this time and money traveling far and wide, only to realize how beautiful my own home truly is.
Since I moved out west, I have made it a mission to explore, adventure, and discover some hidden gems, cities, and towns and share those experiences with you in a series I like to call; “There’s no place like home.”
In the first blog of this series we are going to take a closer look at all there is to see, do, and explore during a weekend getaway to Tofino.
Pictures curtsey of myself and Steve Gordon
Tofino is located on Vancouver Island. It is a small surf town with quaint shops and cafes. It is famous for its wild nature scenery which includes lakes and ancient rainforest. It is also surrounded by beautiful sandy beaches and offers a perfect vacation spot all year round.
There are a few ways to get to Tofino from Vancouver. Most recently I took a small plane, and I must say this was an amazing way to see the entire city and skyline. Just be prepared for a bumpy ride. You can also take the ferry from Vancouver, but it is a longer trip.
Where to stay
I am not sure if you can really go wrong in Tofino. Every experience I have had in this quaint town has been a magical spot. Most recently I stayed at the Homestead. This wellness retreat is in the perfect location. Right on the water it offers the most magical sunsets. We relaxed in our private hottub and took part in some of the outdoor activities the resort has to offer. The quite resort was the perfect place to relax and unwind.
There is so much to see and do in Tofino that it is hard to fit it all in to just a weekend, but we did the best we could
Day 1: Food trucks, beaches, and surfing
Start the day with a good cup of coffee…
We started the day at Common Loaf Bake Shop. This little restaurant located in an adorably colourful house had a variety of fresh and delicious options. The perfect way to start the day.
Visit the world famous beaches…
We then made our way to Long Beach to take some pictures. Long Beach is the longest beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island. 10km of soft sand and a stunning panoramic view of the ocean and sky made for the perfect snaps.
Indulge in some tacos…
On the way back from Long Beach we stopped at the original Tacofino
. I had Tacofino in Vancouver before, but I heard the original was even better. I knew it was a food truck, but I was still surprised by the set up. A lone food truck in a parking lot with a long line. The truck was colourful and so was the menu. I got the fish and veggie tacos and it was definitely worth the wait.
Hang ten on the waves…
After filling our bellies with tacos, it was then time for our surf lesson. I tried surfing once before and it ended terribly, but Estuardo at Tofino Surf Adventures
promised that by the end of my lesson I would be surfing. He was right. It was a little bit of a shaky start, but by the fourth try I was standing up on my board. I won’t be competing in any surf competitions any time soon but it definitely was a thrill. The best part about surfing was the perfect day we had. Despite it being October, the sun was out, the water was relatively warm, and the skies were blue. It was an amazing experience.
Indulge in world class cuisine…
A quick hot tub to help our aching muscles, it was time to try and choose from the list of amazing restaurants in the area. I have the Sobo
cookbook at home, so it only made sense to enjoy a meal at their Tofino restaurant. With their wood fire oven, it was hard not to pick from the pizza menu. I ordered a mushroom pizza and it was delicious.
Day 2: Hot springs, whales, and walks
Relax in the hot springs…
Day two started bright and early as we set out on about an hour and a half boat ride with West Coast Aquatic Safaris
to Hot Springs Cove. Hot Springs Cove is home to seven natural geothermal rock pools that cool down the closer you get to the ocean.
On the way there we saw a grey whale, my first time seeing one up close. Once we arrived, we walked about 1.5 km through a beautiful forest until we arrived at the springs. I warmed up under a small waterfall and sat in the hottest bath as the waves crashed in around us. The view of the ocean on the cool damp day was spectacular.
On the way back we were in for another treat, we spotted some Orcas which were quite rare in October. Two species of whales in one day is pretty special.
Admire local art…
In the afternoon we took a stroll and explored the adorable town of Tofino. During the walk we stumbled into the Eagle Aerie Art Gallery. The gallery was filled with west coast inspired paintings, prints, carvings, and even jewelry. I really suggest taking your time to read about each painting. They all tell a beautifully unique story.
Indulge in some wine and food…
The weekend ended at Shelter
. What I love about this restaurant is they aim to minimize their global footprint and the majority of ingredients used are local, organic, and ethically raised. The majority of the fish is caught by Tofino fisherman so of course I had to give the salmon a try. It was delicious! Another amazing fact is in the back of the restaurant there is a garden where they produce fresh herbs and vegetables. You can’t go wrong with anything on this menu.
What to pack?
Tofino is one of those magical places that you can visit year round. In the summer packed beaches and plenty of surfing. In the winter storm watching and still plenty of surfing. I went in October and it was fairly wet and cool.
Arc’teryx Durant Jacket: I find this the perfect jacket for the wet and slightly cooler days. It is waterproof and insulated so perfect for when you are out on the water trying to stay warm
Emu Roadside Boots: These waterproof boots are comfy on the inside but stylish on the outside. Perfect for wet and colder days
Ryu Tough Tight High-rise Bottoms: For the outdoor hikes and walks you want to make sure you have pants that look good, are comfortable, and can stretch. I found these pants perfect for hikes to dinner.
Your camera: Tofino is so beautiful you are going to want to make sure you have the perfect camera to remember them memories. Most of mine are shot on a Cannon 5D.
Tofino offers the perfect combination of outdoor adventure, fine dining, and stunning scenery to make it the perfect weekend getaway spot.