Back in June, three weeks before leaving Canada, I made my way out to Vancouver Island to visit a friend in Tofino.
Located on the west side of Vancouver Island, Tofino is known as Canada’s surf Capital. A cute little town with unique eateries and some of the prettiest beaches I have ever seen.
From Whistler, the nearest ferry terminal is Horseshoe Bay. I’d made this route once before in January when visiting Nanaimo for the day. Last time we were foot passengers, this time we were taking a car. There’s two different routes from the highway depending on whether you are driving or just a passenger. Needless to say, the route directions were just as bad this time around and as a result we missed our ferry. Never mind we will just hang out until the next one. We passed the time eating ice cream and enjoying the sun for a while.
As usual I got sea-sick on the ferry, but managed to calm it. We arrived at around 5pm in Nanaimo. After a quick stop for Groceries, beer and a Subway, we were on our way. Passing through some really amazing places. Cameron Lake was beautiful and seeing the sun set on Barkley Sound was just incredible. We even managed to spot a black bear on the side of the road, and a bald eagle flying beside us over Sproat Lake. With one day to travel to Tofino, were weren’t able to stop anywhere on the way, but I’d love to come back and explore more of the Island.
Weeks prior to actually booking my trip I looked up accommodation.
I found nothing.
Well, nothing within my price range anyhow. I looked on Air b ‘n’ b and everything hotel booking website. But all the cheaper cabins/motels had been booked out for weeks.
In other words, I tried really really hard not to camp. I can’t remember the last time I even camped. But camping it was to be. It would be an adventure, right? It always looked cool on Instagram. I’ll be fine.
I ended up booking the Bella Pacifica campsite. The idea of beach front camping sounded awesome, having a view of the beach from my tent? Yes please! Luckily for me, these were all booked out, so I ended up booking a spot just behind. And, thankfully I did. I’d forgotten how windy beaches are, especially at night!
The four days at our campsite Matt spent laughing at me. I brought zero warm clothes, only one hoody and one pair of pants. The rest was tank tops, shorts and dresses. #citygirl
The days were warm in Tofino, after around midday/1pm things really started to heat up. The nights however were really cold. My last night here I slept in two t-shirts (one of them being Matt’s), a hoody, pants and socks. With a comforter and sleeping bag over the top.
World’s Worst Camper
Immediately after arriving at our campsite, I said it would be nice to go watch the sunset over Mckenzie Beach. To which Matt replied, “So you want to put the tent up in the dark?” It was 9pm at this point and sunset happens at 9:30. My reply being “No, I thought there’d be lights” He just chuckled to himself.
We put our 3 person tent up quite quickly and set up camp. In the end we did manage to see the sun setting over the beach. It was beautiful.
We (Matt) made a campfire with wood we’d collected back in Whistler, and grilled hotdogs on sticks. It was starting the get dark. I’d never been anywhere this dark before. So many stars were visible in the night sky.
Nature’s Alarm Clock
Around 5am every day, the birds would wake up. Oh how great it was to be one with nature.
Or not. Our site would get crowded with crows. Now I don’t mind the little birds that song softly of a morning… but crows do not sing softly.
CAW! CAW! CAW! over and over again. It was not soft, it was not quiet. It was annoying. And it woke me up every morning. So, with my early alarm clock, it was time to get up. I made my way to the campsite showers, with my 2 bags and towels in hand.
The showers themselves were $2 for 3 minutes of hot water. In my opinion the water was lukewarm at best. I convinced myself I could shower in 3 minutes. How wrong was I? Because I was so confident in myself I only brought $2 to the washrooms. Halfway through exfoliating my face, the water shut off. Left standing there like a deer in the headlights I just had to use my wet washcloth to rinse it off and be done with it.
I’d soon discover that the hot water from the taps in the sinks was far hotter, so the next morning I had a six minute shower and just washed my face in the sink for free. Much better! I’m also 100% certain I was the only one there with hair straighteners.
Exploring Tofino Town
The actual town of Tofino is relatively small. There are a few shops and eateries but the main attraction here is surfing. There are many places here to rent surfboards, paddle boards or to book a lesson of varying levels. We’d planned on paddle boarding, but due to the colder mornings we’d ran out of time during our short stay.
One of our first stops was the Roy Henry Vickers gallery. A native art gallery, with native carvings and paintings housed within a building made to look like a long house. This was really cool, there are a couple of other native art museums within the area so be sure to check those out too.
Where to eat
Throughout my 3.5 days here, I got to explore Tofino’s many culinary delights. Being the massive foodie that I am, cafes and restaurants were one of the things I did some research on. Apart from our gourmet nightly hot dogs and smore’s treats we checked out a fair few places here.
2) Rhino Coffee
3) Chocolate Tofino
5) The Hatch
6) Common Loaf Bake Shop
Beach Down Time
The Beaches in Tofino are by far some of my favourite I’ve visited. So much character, with trees and rocky islands. I managed to visit four of the beaches Tofino is famous for.
1) Tonquin BeachTrail
This was amazing. Located at the North area of Tofino, the Tonquin Beach trail takes you on a small walk among the trees in order to find this hidden away spot. The beach itself has so much character, trees, rocks and clear cool water. It was relatively quiet too. There were maybe 5 other people at this beach. Definitely the kind of place you can sit and waste time just relaxing.
2) MacKenzie Beach
Another beautiful beach in Tofino, MacKenzie Beach was where our campsite was. We had planned on paddleboarding here as the waves are a lot calmer in comparison to others. We ended up not having the time to do this, instead we spent time throwing a frisbee, drinking beer and enjoying the sun.
3) Chesterman Beach
Chesterman Beach was huge, lots of soft sand, the kind I like. There were a fair few people surfing here, but still calm in comparison to Cox Bay
4) Cox Bay
This is where the waves get big, much more so in comparison to Mackenzie. The wind definitely picks up at Cow Bay, hence the bigger waves. A great beach to chill at just as much, but I definitely fell in love to calm and serene Tonquin.
Beautiful end to our weekend away
On our last night in Tofino, we headed down to the marina to watch the sunset. I’d heard it was beautiful from this area but didn’t realise just how beautiful. As the amazing camper that I am, I decided to put shorts on instead of pants. I wasn’t too cold at this point, but sunset is at 9:30pm in the summer and we’d arrived around 8:10pm. It’s fair to say I froze my ass off watching this sunset, but it was definitely more than worth it. This seems to be a really popular thing for locals and visitors as the dock we were watching from was full of people.
I loved the small part of Tofino that I got to see, there is by far so much more to do even though it is a small beach town. We are planning to go back at some point and hopefully explore more of the surrounding areas too.
Have you ever visited Tofino? Where’s your favourite place for camping?