When people say to close your eyes and go to your happy place, I take a trip in my mind to the far right side of long beach in Tofino. The small surf town is the epitome of west coast lifestyle and threatens to take your breath away if you have even the slightest admiration for nature.
It’s somehow suitable for everyone; families, dirty hippies, party-campers, and beach bums coexist peacefully, possibly because everyone is in shock from how gorgeous the lush landscape and epic beaches are.
The trip from Vancouver to Tofino began with the first ferry of the day, and more than one expensive ferry coffee.
Shortly after departing from the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal we spotted a pod of Orca whales off the back of the ship, they were near enough to see the occasional fin and breathe spray and stayed close to the surface for a few minutes. It was thrilling to see wild whales and I took it as a good omen for the trip ahead.
After the long windy road towards Tofino we arrived at Bella Pacifica Campsite, where I immediately fell in love with the space that I was allotted to sleep in for the weekend.
My campsite was quite typically wedged between a large family and a group of young women (who brought 80 jello shots.)
The camping sites were each unique and whimsical, some with twisting roots and edged with moss and ferns and others with a view directly over the beach and Pacific Ocean, or close enough to hear the waves crashing at night.
Despite the entire province being on a fire ban we were permitted to have campfires in Tofino because of how damp environment is, which quickly includes all of the clothes brought along. This was incredible news because even though the beaches are scorching hot, the forest campsites are freezing at night-time.
There is no better feeling than waking up to the sounds of the forest and crashing ocean waves.
Following the noises of nature each morning, comes the quiet chatter of other campers, fires crackling, children playing, and eventually the anguished moans of the hung over.
We cooked breakfast over the campfire, and washed it down with an Americano from town (I’m addicted to coffee, so sue me.) Once sufficiently caffeinated we got ready for a long day at the beach.
The list of possible beach activities in Tofino is nearly endless. The long scenic beach offers an endless supply of waves for surfing, but the horizon is also speckled with paddle boarders and kayakers.
A large calm pool of water further up on the beach provides warmer shallow water for skim boarding or floating on an inflatable. The actual sandy beach is a bouquet of various sports and sun bathing bodies. You couldn’t go ten feet without meeting a new friendly dog or having to toss back a straying frisbee or football.
We played volleyball and badminton at the provided net, as well as other games in the sand, but my favourite part of the day at the beach was finding a cluster of tide pools at the far end of the beach, near Crystal Cove.
The tide was out and small pools full of life were waiting to be
Anemones, small crab and seaweed could be found in the barnacle encrusted pools, fitted snugly between large sharp boulders. I felt like a kid again as I scrambled over large rocks to find what was in the next pool.
Spending multiple days on the beach had such a positive effect on me, mentally and physically. My soul felt refreshed and my soles were incredibly smooth from days of being barefoot in the sand. I had perfected the art of swirling the fine sand to the bottom of my wine glass, and my skin glowed with a warm tan.
On our final night in Tofino, we joined dozens of others in disobeying the “no campfires on beach” sign. At least 20 campfires could be counted along the long beach, each roaring against the cold pacific winds.
Huddled in my camp chair with a dog in my lap and a bottle of wine at my feet I savoured my last night on the far west coast.
Just as the dream was starting to end, we were quickly met with a nightmare. The car share that we rented decided to die shortly after we pulled out of the campsite.
Sitting in a parking lot in Tofino we were told that the one tow truck driver was swamped because of the long weekend, and that the van was not going anywhere anytime soon. Many members of our group were expected to be back at work the next day, which was many hours by car and boat from the small town parking lot we stood in.
After a modest amount of stress we abandoned our camping gear in the van at a mechanic shop, and crammed into the other vehicle while two others flew home to Vancouver. A week later the car share company arranged to get the van back to the city, where we were able to reclaim our damp smelly gear.