Tofino BC – A place that has always seemed mystical to me. I first heard tales of this magical place when I was living in Big White a few years back. All the Aussie ski bums would pack up at the end of the winter and head to the Island to surf for the summer. It never really was top on my list of places to see until I recently picked up Surfing and realized I was missing out on this Canadian gem. When Leslie and I were invited to Abbostsford to help with this year’s Boat nationals we jumped on the opportunity to go.
First off let me say Nationals was a huge successJ Big shout out to James Balzer and his rad family for hosting one of the best nationals to date. The site was perfect, glass water, great cable park, sandy beach, you couldn’t ask for a better venue. We spent some time catching up with the riders from across Canada, got our contest on and did a fair amount of riding in between. The never-ending battle of Ashley vs Erika was yet again in play, but we had some newer faces on the map this year – Michela Phillips and Mackalya Petrie both stepping up their game in a big way. It’s exciting to see these ladies kicking so much butt on the women’s wake scene in Canada.
OK! Back to the main story – the Mission to Tofino. Sunday night Dary, Leslie and I packed up our copious amount of gear and made out way to Vancouver City. We had an early ferry to catch so we grabbed a hotel close to the docks. Dary wanted to show us this bomb vegetarian restaurant called Name, so we headed downtown. It did not disappoint, not only was the food amazing the entertainment provided in the form of real live hippy mermaids with hair to their bums, wearing crop tops dancing around with their gluten free vegan bars and steeped tea was worth the trek. Only in Vancouver do you get to witness some of the best people watching in a lifetime.
The ferry ride was about 2 hours, followed by a 3.5 hour drive across the island to Tofino. The drive is amazing, we passed two glassy calm lakes where our good friend Tanner wakeskates all summer, huge valleys with first growth trees that go for miles and miles. Tofino is at the very top of the Pacific Rim National park, a protected area filled with surf shops, old VW vans and access to some of the best hiking in the world. Leslie and I went straight to our hotel, grabbed surfboards and made out way out to Cox bay.
The first day of surfing was definitely a tough one. The waves were pretty big (4-5 footers) and the rips were strong along the shore. Leslie managed to get herself caught in a rip and tossed into some rocks near shore. She was lucky to have a personal rescue surfer boy come to her aid to pull her out. A bit scary but we made light of the situation and went for a flight at the Tofino Brewery to celebrate her return to the sandy shore.
Later that evening we went into to town to check out the shops and grab some food at The Shelter, we even ran into the same guy that rented our boards serving in the restaurant. It seems like the locals bust their butts to save up that cash to spend it all on pow lines up at Whistler in the winter. Pretty good gig I’d say! We finished it off with a couple of drinks at jacks and virtually fell into a deep sleep once our heads hit our pillows.
The next day we had one full day to pack it all in so we decided to kick start with a hike. The lady at the front desk told us to do the ‘bomber trail’. It isn’t an official Parks Canada trail so we had to look up a few directions to get there. We parked at Radar Hill, walked along the highway counting telephone poles until we found the one that says ‘plane’. The trail is straight out of Jurassic park, there are huge ferns dotted throughout the forest with pine trees draping moss everywhere you look. We made out way to the first trail marker – a creepy old abandoned building full of graphitti. Even in the middle of the day you couldn’t help but think Blair Witch Project when you were inside.
The trail runs through a bog, which we were lucky enough to go on a dry day. Normally its rubber boots required, but my runners were fine. We trekked on until it came out of the woodwork – the 1942 WW2 Bomber plane high up in the trees which had crashed during the war. Apparently it was too much of a financial burden to remove the bomber in the 40s, so the government just left it there to rust away.
It’s a scene right out of lost – the plane is about the same size, frame still in tact but bits and pieces of the plane and shrapnel scattered everywhere. You can get right up inside the plane which has been branded with thousands of hiker’s leaving their mark – ‘I was here’ .
We decided to go straight to the beach after that to get in some more surfing. The tide was out which mean the waves were much more manageable. Perfect, clean 3 footers. Surfing is one of the most challenging sports for me, reading the ocean is like reading a Physic’s textbook – you never really know how to decipher it with variables that are thrown at you from every direction. But every time I go I learn a little more, this time I managed to drop in the from the top (not the whitewash) and actually turn on the wave. There is nothing more gratifying in life than the feeling of conquering a wave on a surfboard. Keeps you coming back to take the bruises every time.
That evening we booked ourselves on a sunset Whale Watching tour. The tour was on a 9 person dingy and guaranteed whales. It was so much more than whales. We saw Bald Eagles, Sea Lions, Sea Otters which of course were my absolute favouite, and a baby Grey Whale. On the way back we watch the sun set along the quiet shores of the national park, an absolutely gorgeous place to be.
Wednesday we had one full morning to surf so we got up early and went straight to beach. On the way we stopped off at a local café called Swell, I just have to say the food in Tofino was beyond amazing. Everything is healthy and tastes so much better than anything I could possibly make myself. We finished off the day buying some local art and headed back to the ferry on the other side of the island. We gave ourselves enough time to make a pit stop at the first growth forest, which is home of Yoda from the 1970s star wars films. Or at least it should be.
Overall the trip was short but absolutely amazing. Tofino is a place that should be on the top everyone’s bucket list !!!