Tofino, the edge of the western world. Rugged coastline. Endless ocean beaches. Wonderful and colourful wildlife. Magical rainforests. And stormy character.

It is as untouched and preserved as any destination I’ve visited. We visited for four days and it was unbelievably relaxing. The scenery on the drive from Nanaimo is breathtaking and as soon as you hear those waves or wander those beaches you forget all your worries and your mind clears.

Endless ocean beaches.

The beaches in Tofino are special. They are not your golden Caribbean beaches, or your fun-filled seaside resorts.They are endless expanses of nothingness. These beaches are as intriguing when it’s raining and stormy as they are when the sun is beating down on them. On one of the beaches, Combers Beach, we were the only two people on an five mile stretch of beach.

Tofino beaches mark the very westerly edge of Canada. From here the Pacific Ocean continues, uninterrupted, until Japan and Australia. That’s over 15 hours flight. True wilderness.

Endless stretches of ocean beach make you feel tiny.

Wonderful wildlife.

Whilst the beaches look sparse, get a little close and they are full of interesting wildlife to be explored. Look in the rock pools at low tide and you’ll find brightly coloured starfish clinging to the rocks. Sea anemones and shellfish cover to the rocks in their hundreds. Sand dollars (a strange type of urchin) are found lying on the beaches. Hermit crabs can be found crawling around – some in very ill-fitting shell houses and others in mansions. We found a little crab who jumped into his shell at the sight of us in a very cartoon-like fashion!

Purple and orange starfish cling to the rocks as the tide washes in.

Rugged coastline.

The coastline reminds me of the Jurassic Coast back home; rugged rocks and swirling waters. We sat and watched the crashing waves. This is where many Tofino artists come to get inspired, part of the Wild Pacific Trail is named ‘Artists Loops’.

The rugged rocks and crashing, swirling waters.
A painter, inspired by the rigged coastline.

Magical rainforests.

Stand on the coastline and turn around and you are greeted by untamed rainforest. The temperate climate on the West Pacific Rim means green is the dominant colour in most landscapes. The deep and immersive growth gives the place a magical feel. The mossy trees, that stand over 800 years old in some cases, grow tall into the clouds and as wide as 18ft. Black bears, cougars and deer call these areas home.

Stormy character.

Tofino is just as popular for tourists in the winter as it is in the summer. Storm chasers travel from wide and far to witness the power of the Pacific Ocean crashing into Tofino shores. As you travel around the area you can’t help but notice the Tsunami warning signs and evacuation routes.

The evidence of stormy weather and impact is all around. Giant trees have been ripped out at their roots, others have been struck by lightning and left bare and pointy. Smaller trees on the coastline grow with horizontal branches where the winds batter them. Even in the summer months, with low winds, the waves crash into the shoreline with great force.

One tree lays fallen, and another at an angle from storm damage.

Bleached driftwood.

Tree’s are victim to the winter storm season, which results in some interesting driftwood laying on and around the shorelines. Tight knots of wood are bleached white from the salt and the sun and reveal interesting grains and knots in the wood remains.

The knotted and twisted remains of large tree roots.

A Pacific Rim adventure.

We stayed in the nearby town of Ucluelet (affectionately known as ‘Ukee’) which is 25 minutes south of Tofino and just as interesting to explore. Between the rainforests, ocean beaches, storm damage and chilled out locals, exploring the Tofino and Ucluelet area was a short, relaxing and intriguing adventure.

How we did it.

For those who might be interested in going:

  • We flew into Vancouver airport, got the Skytrain to Vancouver Central, and then the 257 bus to Horseshoe Bay.
  • We jumped on the ferry over to Vancouver Island – it’s just over an hour and a half and just under £20 per person as a foot passenger.
  • We stopped off overnight in Nanaimo, rented a car the next morning and drove West.
  • The drive was just as interesting – a couple of interesting stop offs are Cathedral Grove and Wally Creek.
  • We stayed at Wya Point Resort in Ucluelet.
  • Some of the things we did whilst there were the Wild Pacific Trail, kayaking with Paddle West Kayaking, the Tofino Market (Saturdays), Chesterman beach and Combers beach.