[10 minute read. Original post date: September 2017. Updated September 2019.]
PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS SEARCHING FOR THEIR NEXT ESCAPE.
Round the world tickets.
Backpacking through SE Asia.
Gap years in Australia…
But what about staying here?
By the time I was 24 I had travelled, lived and worked in over 30 countries. I was a professional at hopping on any flight I could to get away; I needed to explore, but staying in Canada didn’t seem “adventurous” enough for me. I thought adventure could only be satisfied with foreign experiences on the other side of the world.
In my early 20’s I was offered a short term contract for a travel company based in Vancouver. I had never been to Vancouver but thought “What the heck? It’s only three months…just another trip and a new experience.”
Long story short, it’s been five years and I haven’t looked back since. I absolutely fell in love with this city. Over the course of these years, I was going through a lot of change – including transitioning out of the travel industry. It was SO hard to not have the option of travelling all of the time so I started packing my evenings and weekends with any adventure I could find in and around Vancouver.
Once I started exploring British Columbia, I realized how much I had skipped out on. I couldn’t believe how incredible my own country was and couldn’t help but wonder why I had never opted to explore my own backyard. While I’m lucky to have seen and experienced so much traveling the world – this is my home..and I set out with one mission:
Show people that they don’t have to go far to “travel”.
And then it was born: #TheStayCationSeries. My first travel series came with one goal: travel around Canada to showcase what our home is all about while supporting local, sustainable tourism and leaving you with a detailed blog on how you can re-create the trip for yourself.
That first year brought me to work with six tourism boards across British Columbia and Alberta. The first stop? Tofino
You ready? Let’s go!
Tofino, British Columbia
Sprawled out across the peninsula of Clayoquot Sound, this tiny town is located on the west shores of Vancouver Island, BC.
Tofino has a population of fewer than 2000 residents and is a great spot to visit year-round. It’s known for its winter swells and storm watching, Canadian surfing, ancient rainforest, a stunning national park and a ton of inlets, islands, and beaches to explore.
I chose Tofino to kick off the series because it holds a special place in my heart. Before moving to Vancouver, I had spent a weekend there and was mind blown that places like this even existed in Canada. It was my first taste of the west coast and I try to make it out there any chance that I get.
WHEN TO GO
– Year-round travel
– Note: The summer months very busy
– Winter months great for surf and “storm” watching
GETTING THERE FROM VANCOUVER
Home Base – Where To Stay
I was so excited to partner with Pacific Sands Beach Resort for this series. I had heard wonders about the property and was ready to take it on first hand myself.
It did not disappoint.
Our experience started off on a great foot when we made our way over to the front desk to check-in. The staff were exceptionally friendly and down to earth, giving us a quick rundown of the property and even offering us a morning free yoga class to start our trip off with some zen. It was clear from the aesthetic of the main cabin that our room was going to be nice.
I walked up to the front door and swiped my room key to unlock the doors to what seemed like paradise: a bright + modern, two-story beachfront house. Downstairs was equipped with a brand new kitchen, living room, fireplace, balcony, and laundry room. I caught myself standing there with my mouth wide open and jaw on the floor before I realized I hadn’t even been upstairs.
I ran up the stairs to find James already on the second balcony soaking in the views. The bedroom was big and bright, taking up the entire second floor.
Floor to ceiling windows to the right of our bed, a built-in fireplace at the foot of our bed, and to the left (*pinch me*) were steps leading up to a soaker tub and the door to the bathroom.
At night we slept with the windows open and fireplace on. It was amazing to cuddle up to the crisp fall breeze hitting our sheets and falling asleep to the crashing of the waves on the shore below us.
This was our home for four days and I’m still trying to figure out how to make it my home forever.
More About Pacific Sands.
“Located beachfront on spectacular Cox Bay on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Pacific Sands Beach Resort has been the Vancouver Island Resort destination of choice for returning families, couples and outdoor enthusiasts for decades.
The west coast is known for its natural beauty and this Vancouver Island resort is no exception with unforgettable front-row seats to nature’s greatest waterpark. From towering old-growth forests to the crashing waves of the mighty Pacific Ocean, every day is an adventure here.”
ALL SUITES FEATURE:
- Fully-equipped kitchen: fridge, stove, and oven, microwave, flatware, silverware, glassware, pots, pans, cooking utensils, toaster, coffee maker, dish soap, washcloths, dish-towels
- Local Tofino Coffee Company Organic Coffee
- Gas fireplace
- Patio or balcony
- LG Flatscreen TV & DVD player
- Simmons Beautyrest Elite Pillow Top & Serta Pillow Top beds
- All-natural, locally produced, plant-based body and hair-care amenities by Sea Wench
- Rain slickers
All amenities listed above, PLUS:
- Open dining area
- Gas fireplace in living room & master bedroom
- 2nd balcony
- LG flatscreen TV & DVD player in master & 2nd bedroom
- iPod docking station
- View soaker tub for two
- Super soft bath robes
- Make-up mirror
- Extra hair dryer
- Washer & dryer
Building Your Tofino Itinerary.
Do everything, one thing or nothing at all. This is your trip – and anything you do sets you up for the perfect trip.
That’s what I love about Tofino. You can set out to have a weekend to shut off and unwind, pack it with adventure or have a bit of both in the mix. There is literally no wrong answer. But you know how I roll, and shutting off still means climbing something, running to somewhere or sailing off anywhere. Here are some of the adventures that you should put on your radar once you’re there!
Hot Springs Cove, Whale Watching + Scenic Flights.
If you’re anything like me and want to do all of the things, all of the time; this is the excursion for you. This trip with Ocean Outfitters covers an ocean safari over to the hot springs and gives you an (optional) scenic flight back.
Your excursion starts with an unbelievably scenic boat ride over to the hot springs. Your guide talks to you about the area and is constantly on the lookout for whales and other wildlife! We were lucky to spot two grey whales just before we got to the hot springs. (OMG!)
At the time of booking, you’ll have the option of choosing a covered boat or a Zodiac experience. Both are great, but we opted the covered boat for comfort as there is an outdoor viewing deck at the back that you have access to!
You’re dropped off, given a few hours to hike in and enjoy the hot springs and meet back at the dock to return to Tofino. We chose to upgrade the experience, taking the scenic flight back. Your day is totally customizable to your needs and interests, the staff on hand will tailor a day that best suits you.
If hot springs aren’t your thing, you can opt solely for a whale watch, bear watch or scenic flight. I recommended doing at least one of these experiences while you’re there!
You can’t go to Tofino and NOT try surfing. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or an experienced surfer, this place has something for everyone.
We booked in a private lesson at Surf Sister. It was a huge perk (and easy convenience) that they had a surf shack right on-site at the Pacific Sands. The morning was absolutely effortless. The staff was amazing, providing us with everything we needed, and the instructor was great! We got an on-sand lesson that taught us about the ocean – how waves work, safety, and the basics of popping up on our boards before we went into the ocean for a few hours.
These lessons are catered to your level, or if you don’t need one, pop in to rent your gear for the weekend.
Don’t need a lesson and just want to rent gear? Head over to Pacific Surf Co.
Some of the most mind-blowing sunsets and sunrises that I’ve ever witnessed have been in Tofino. The skies can be dramatic over the endless horizon and reflections on the beach from the moving tides. The misty fog in the morning causes dramatic light beams through the trees.
Out front of our room at the Pacific Sands, we had direct access to the Sunset Point trail. This is one of my favourite spots to catch sunset from. You can hike out and up onto the rocks, or stay below at the tide pools for cool reflection shots.
Other great spots are Long Beach or even just really soaking it in with a sunset surf or paddle!
- Hit up Pacific Rim National Park
- Hike the Cox Bay Lookout
- Hike Lone Cone
- Bikes! A fit, fun and eco-friendly way of exploring!
- Eat. We’re gonna chat the culinary experiences below!
**Please remember to explore responsibly. Always do destination research before you travel and remember the Leave No Trace policy!
Nom Nom Nom.
Tofino has zero shortage of amazing eats – and anytime I go up there, I expect to do just that. Here is a breakdown of my favourite spots!
Breakfast @ The Wickanninish Inn.
The Pointe Restaurant is hands down my breakfast spot of choice. There is nothing that beats the huge windows overlooking the surf while sipping coffee and enjoying a great breakfast menu. No trip to Tofino is complete for me unless I have breakfast here at least once.
If you went to Tofino, but didn’t go to Shelter – did you even go to Tofino? This spot is a staple in town and is offers fresh farm to table meals prepared by passionate locals. The patio and firepits here are one of my favourite spots to get a glass of bubbles and enjoy a great meal.
Basic Goodness Pizzeria.
Calling all pizza lovers. This spot prepares fresh, authentic pies from the heart of Naples every evening until they run out of dough. Go early, savor every bite.
Wolf In The Fog
“Fish. Forage. Feast.”
This local joint prides themselves in a creative menu, craft cocktails and seasonal + locally-sourced, Tofitian ingredients. Reserve an experience for yourself here.
- 1909 Kitchen
- Tofino Chocolate
- Rhino Tofino