One of the many reasons I love calling British Columbia home is that there is always something special just around the bend.
Take Vancouver Island. At certain spots, this massive island is less than 20 km from the hustle and bustle of downtown Vancouver. Yet once you arrive, it’s as if you’ve been transported to a far away land.
At least that’s how I felt on my recent adventure to Tofino – one of the most beautiful, charming seaside towns I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing.
Located on the Pacific Rim, outdoor enthusiasts flock to Tofino to get a glimpse of the local landscape and surf. And after my visit, I clearly see why.
Opting for the short flight on Harbour Air from Vancouver harbour to the quaint Tofino Marina, Russ and I were immediately struck by the beauty we passed below. A beauty that became even more real the second we stepped off the plane. On one side, you have lush greenery as far as the eyes can see. And on the other, a picturesque ocean. Bliss!
A quick walk down from the dock and we arrived at our destination for the weekend – Tofino Marina Resort. The friendly staff directed us to our third-floor queen suite, which boasted a stunning view of the marina. Cozy, comfy, and quiet, this room offered exactly what we needed for our weekend journey.
After settling in, it was time to begin our adventure. Without a car to explore (which I’ll admit made me a little nervous), we opted instead to rent bikes from the resort. The large tires on the bikes made it easy for us on both the roads and the beaches in Tofino, these bikes were the perfect way to explore the natural wonders around us. Not staying at Tofino Marina Resort? Not to worry – biking seems to be the preferred mode of transportation around town, and there are plenty of shops that offer reasonable rentals.
To fuel our day’s adventures, we decided to stop and have a caffeinated pick-me-up. Tofino is perfect for all coffee lovers! We ended up hitting both Tofino Coffee Roasters and Rhino Coffee House during our stay, and both were fantastic. So good they had lines out the door nearly every time we passed.
At Rhino, they are known for what’s called a bro-nut – an egg breakfast sando with lettuce and tomato set inside the centre of a donut. I was skeptical at first, but then Russ took a bite and said, “Babe, you gotta try it!” I took a bite, and I had a positive reaction, as the sandwich creates the perfect sweet and savoury combo, mirroring my normal morning breakfast of waffles with cinnamon honey and an egg. Delish!
Down the street at Tofino Coffee, the feel is still uniquely local. Small with a great vibe, this space features paintings, pottery, and crafts on display from local artisans. I enjoyed the brew so much I decided to bring home a pound to enjoy later.
Now, I was properly caffeinated, we explored by foot and bike until we worked up a hunger for lunch.
Did somebody say BBQ? Probably not me, as I’ve never been the biggest fan. That is, until I tasted Lil Ronnie’s Beachside BBQ at MacKenzie Beach Resort.
Lil Ronnie’s was recommended to me by chef Dennis Peckham and I’m glad I didn’t shy away from this BBQ spot. We chose the massive portion of everything, including the brisket, which was outta this world tasty, savoury, and ultra-tender! To wash down this delicious meat, I enjoyed a Tofino Lager, which was so good I immediately added it to my repertoire of beers that I like and will drink again.
Beer and me have a funny relationship. I always forget what I like. I sometimes call my son and say, “Hey Ryland, what beer do I like?” I can usually hear him roll his eyes as he answers me with a tinge of sarcasm. But I remind him that I am in the midst of peri or something menopause so bear with me and my not remembering much!
Needless to say, I won’t be forgetting Tofino Lager anytime soon.
After lunch we continued our exploration of Tofino, and eventually made our way back to the Tofino Marina Resort, where we had dinner reservations at 1909 Kitchen. Located on the waterfront, we watched the bald eagles soar in the wind and the local fishermen coming in with their daily catches. It was like dinner and a show! Speaking of dinner, we had the kennebec potatoes sprinkled with some local seaweed and tuna with some crispy bits to share!
Filled to the brim, Russ and I settled into our cozy room and rested up for what was sure to be another day filled with adventure.
The next day was filled with more biking and taking in the breathtaking local scenery. We headed over to Wolf in the Fog, a rustic restaurant featuring locally-sourced plates. Since our trip was planned on fairly short notice, we did not have the chance to make reservations, and found ourselves waiting in line for a table.
Russ agreed to hold our spot while I explored the local shops. I popped into Two Trees located on 4th Street and could not believe the beautiful, curated selection of quality local art, clothing, jewelry and pottery. Such gems! Next, I found myself at Salt on Campbell Street. For some time, I have been wanting ‘The Bag”. And at Salt, I literally tripped over the Tofino bag. I knew it was a sign…it had to be mine!
Bag in hand, I returned to the restaurant right as Russ and I were seated on the sunny patio. The vibe of this place was fantastic, as was the food. I enjoyed a local seaweed salad and Russ went classic with a burger and fries, which fuelled us up for our next adventure – whale watching!
Whale watching was high on my priority list for this trip, and so I had no reservations putting on the very frame-enlarging red lifesuit and climbing aboard the boat. As we ventured out into the water, the ocean wind was welcoming on my face, which was plastered with a smile in anticipation of the sights to come.
Out in the Pacific, we set our sights on some beautiful whales breaching the surface. Squealing with excitement and snapping pics (you probably heard me), I was in absolute heaven. Being on the water and seeing the habitat of whales, sea otters, sea lions and a multitude of birds made my heart so happy.
But after a weekend in Tofino, I am not surprised. This place is filled with sights, tastes, and adventures that bring your heart and your senses to life. I came to Tofino with the sole purpose of enjoying Chef Paul Moran’s foraging adventure (this is an adventure not to be missed), but left with a heart bursting with joy and memories to last a lifetime.
Though Tofino is not that far from the hustle and bustle of city life, it might as well be a million miles away. Which is exactly why everyone should make a point to come experience Tofino for themselves. Thank you Tofino!