Well among other things this week, including a beautiful motorcycle ride on some back roads, admiring the gorgeous fall colours on the trees, a trip up to Qualicum Beach for lunch and a lovely Thanksgiving Feast at the Martas, we also went to Tofino for the first time!
I tried to catch a photo of the fall leaves from the car while Steve was driving, but that is a surprisingly tricky task!
It is hard to believe that we’ve lived on the island for 19 years now, and have never been to Tofino! My main excuse is the road. I am quite prone to car sickness and had heard the road was winding and narrow. That was the truth. It is very windy and narrow. Steve drove very carefully though, and I made it through the trip without any Gravol! That is quite an accomplishment 🙂
- Side note: We are loving the new GPS… which got us to Tofino no problem. I also find it endlessly hilarious when the GPS which we fondly call Mistee thinks we are driving on the grass 🙂 Here she is telling us to get BACK on the road :
The scenery was absolutely stunning. The day we drove home it was raining which created all kinds of waterfalls down the rocks right beside the highway. There aren’t many places to stop and admire though so there are no photos! You also pass a breathtakingly beautiful lake called Cameron Lake, and a park called Cathedral Grove with gigantic trees!
Tofino feels quite remote from the rest of the island, even though it was only 3 hours from Ladysmith. I think you drive through enough wilderness to feel like you are really far away!
The first thing I noticed about Tofino was how expensive accommodations were. Even in October, in the middle of the week, this place is not cheap. The most well-known hotel was listed at over $600 a night. WHAT?!?!? Unless I win the lottery I won’t be paying $600 a night for a hotel room!
After much searching I eventually found a place called Sea Star Beach Retreat (close to the aforementioned hotel) which was basically a house with 3 suites in it. You just had to walk out the front of the house, across the street and through the trees and you were right on Chesterman Beach. We rented the garden suite which had a kitchen, comfy couch in front of the fireplace and a jacuzzi tub in the room. There was also a hot tub outside, but who needs that when you have a jacuzzi tub in your room? This place was only $165 a night… which is still more than my average price range for this year… but definitely reasonable in Tofino! If I returned to Tofino I would stay here again.
What is there to do in Tofino you ask?
Well if you are a surfer this is your town! I am not a surfer, so had to find other ways to amuse myself.
You can walk through the town and look at the shops…that won’t take you long though 🙂 It is a small resort town. Cute… but small.
These little birds were outside a coffee shop trying to convince Steve to share his breakfast sandwich with him. (You know he couldn’t resist 🙂 )
You can definitely find plenty of delicious places to eat and drink. We ended up on the first day at Schooners because I hadn’t done any research, we were hungry, and the parking lot was full. This is our old standby method when we don’t have any other information. If lots of people are there it can’t be bad, right? This method worked once again as our lunch was delicious. It seemed a bit pricy to me… but I think this is a theme in Tofino. I guess they figure if they’ve got you to come this far they can hold you captive and you’ll pay whatever they are asking 🙂
The second day we ate at Shelter which was recommended by all the people who filled in the guest book at our hotel. The food was terrific and the ambience was great ON THE PATIO. Don’t eat inside. We started out inside and it was dark, loud and well… I’m trying to think of the right word to describe it and can only come up with icky. Outside on the patio however is a whole different story. Fresh air, heat lamps, nice seats and a view of the water.
You can also go for walks and to the beach. Tofino is right next to Pacific Rim National Park. This park had many areas you could stop and walk through the forest, or walk on the beach. We had to buy a park permit when we first arrived at a machine in the parking lot, but it was only $15 and lasted us two days. You can use this same pass at all the places you stop along the way which seems to be about a 15 km long area.
The first place we stopped was Radar Hill because a map we had found said it had a good elevated view. Apparently it was under construction and you couldn’t see anything (according to the family who came out as we arrived) so we headed to the next area.
Next we came to Schooner Cove which was described as a series of boardwalks and stairs to the beach. This was an accurate description and the walk through the forest was absolutely beautiful!
Before you start in on the path there are many wildlife warning signs including this one (which doesn’t appear to be official based on the fact that they can’t spell and used spray paint…)
Steve has included his big foot in case you can’t read the sign because as well as not being able to spell it is barely legible. 🙂
We’ve included a few photos to show the scenery on the way to the beach. These stairs and boardwalks go all the way down to the beach. Every 100 metres there is a little silver medallion on a board that says how far you’ve gone. The whole distance in to the beach is about 1 km.
It is hard to grasp the size of these trees in photos.
I was a little worried when we saw this large flattened area, as we are in cougar and black bear country… but then I realized it was probably just where Bigfoot was taking his nap. 😉
Eventually you come out of the trees to this amazing beach! I think it is part of Long Beach if I’m not mistaken.
Okay, here are a few beach pictures, because I can’t pick just one 🙂
When there are no walls to climb, Steve will find something to climb 🙂
I think I found Bigfoot! He doesn’t look scary at all. In fact he looks downright happy 🙂
After the walk back through the forest to the car, we headed down the highway and stopped at Incinerator Rock. We hadn’t planned to stop here, but Steve couldn’t stay away from a place with a name like that. It seems like a parking lot that is right at the beach… probably good for surfers because you don’t have to carry your stuff too far. There is no information here that says why it is named Incinerator Rock, and a google search didn’t turn up any information either. If you know why it is called Incinerator Rock let me know… I hate having unanswered questions!
Next we headed to Comber’s Beach which is where the map said we would have the best chance of seeing wildlife. (Unbelievably the map had a warning that it wasn’t guaranteed… what kind of crazy people think that you can guarantee that???)
It was a shorter walk in… about .5 km, but also beautiful. It is quite stunning to see the rain forest and the beach together. It really does look like unspoilt land. I think, for me, that is the big draw of Tofino.
When we first arrived at the beach I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t see any wildlife… then I took out the camera with the zoom lens and realized that the rock out in front of us was covered with sea lions… that must be how it got it’s name of Sea Lion Rock 😉
It was hard to get a clear photo as it was quite a ways out and we didn’t have a tripod to steady the camera. If you are coming to see the sea lions at this beach, bring your binoculars!
If you’ve ever been to the beach with Steve you know the trip is not complete without Steve making up some sort of game. It usually involves throwing something to see how accurate you can be. I am terrible at these games… but still play anyway. This time I took a photo because it may be the first time out of thousands that I actually won. My shell is clearly the closest to the stick 🙂 I should stop playing now right?!? 😉
That about sums about the interesting parts of our week. At the end of this week we are heading out to Vancouver for a few days. I told my mom to plan something fun… she suggested vacuuming… so the next post may or may not be interesting 🙂