Newest Review: ... much more frequently! ==Things to do in Tofino== We only had around 30 hours in Tofino and had to make the most of it. We stayed in Pacif... more
Tofino on Vancouver Island - everyone should visit!
Member Name: rosaliecullen
Advantages: Stunning scenery
Disadvantages: None - except not that easy to get to without a car.
==Getting to Tofino==
Tofino is a spectacular coastal town set on the Pacific rim of Vancouver Island. Vancouver Island itself is huge, it is about the size of the UK so don't let the word "Island" make you think it is tiny - it is not. A lot of it is inaccessible by road due to the gorgeous landscape. We hopped on the ferry from Horseshoe Bay Vancouver to Nanaimo. There are no direct ferries to Tofino so this is about the best route you can take. We jumped on the 9pm ferry which was a good bet, we got there about 8pm to the ferry terminal. There is no messing about on the BC Ferries, they get you on and off in no time - P&O Ferries take note for the English channel! The ferry was empty and we spent the two hour journey from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo relaxing and getting some food. We arrived in Nanaimo, shattered and the map we had sent us the total wrong way to the Travelodge which was "just around the corner". The drive to Tofino was around 3 hours from Nanaimo so we decided not to do it at night and waited for the morning
==Things to Do en route to Tofino from Nanaimo==
No rest for the wicked! We set off for Tofino early again, we left around 8am after a very nice breakfast in the Travelodge (possibly its only redeeming feature!). We stopped at Coombs to see Goats on the Roof which were totally random and not really as much of a tourist attraction as we thought!...it was literally just goats on a roof! Worth the five minute detour though. We also stopped at Cathedral Grove and walked one of the trails (really easy to walk trail with marked pathways). Vancouver Island was wet. But you know, it didn't matter, it all added to the atmosphere of the place, the low clouds, the mist, it felt just as I had expected it to. We liked Cathedral Grove, but unlike the brilliant facilities of Jasper and Banff national parks that we had experienced before it, the toilet facilities were disgusting in this area, given the amount of tourists who must visit, they seriously need to empty those longdrops much more frequently!
==Things to do in Tofino==
We only had around 30 hours in Tofino and had to make the most of it. We stayed in Pacific Sands Resort which sounds super exotic like it should be in Hawaii, let me tell you it was lovely but the weather was nothing like Hawaii. I will re-iterate, Vancouver Island is wet. Located in the Pacific North West, anyone who has read Twilight knows its a wet place (Forks is the wettest place in the Pacific North West which is why it is ideal for Vampires - I digress! Pacific Sands was a nice place right on the beach, the staff again were really helpful.
There is a longgggggggggg road with trees either side (must be 20 miles long) - at the end is Tofino. Along the road hidden amongst the trees are all the resorts as majority of them overlook the longgggg beaches. One beach is even aptly named "Long Beach" (but no Inglewood for all you Dr Dre fans out there!). They are "the best beaches in Canada" - its worth noting Canada is not famous for its beaches so you may think there is little competition but they have amazing temperate rainforest in the background linking up to the long beaches filled with driftwood. It looked like a scene out of a film. Totally stunning.
A "must-do" is visiting the the rock pools at low tide - our hotel helped us with low tide times as I guess most hotels would. We went for a walk around 4pm and saw brightly coloured starfish and sea anemones in the rock pools. We also got chatting to a lovely elderly lady who lived on the beach. She told us there was a property for sale on the beach for $4 million. If only we could win the lottery!! We both absolutely loved the peace and serenity of Tofino. It is an ideal place to watch the waves crash onto the beach and was extremely popular with surfers even though we didn't partake in the activities.
We tried to get into the Wick Inn (Wickannish Inn) which is perfectly positioned on a rock to watch the waves but it was fully booked so we made do with our beach front apartment instead :)
Link to the Wick Inn - http://www.wickinn.com/stormwatching.html <-- Very popular with storm watchers, it must be AMAZING in Winter!
Beach walks and rainforest walks were popular - be wary of the local carnivores, wolves and cougars as well as bears are frequent visitors to this area.
Note: Vancouver Island is very wet. The beaches are brilliant at Tofino but don't expect to get a tan! Even in high summer we were lucky to get a break in the drizzle.
==Out on the Pacific Ocean==
There are many water sporting activities you can undertake in Tofino. The main town is full of shacks with tours advertised. It doesn't feel too touristy though and I really liked the little town. It didn't have many shops but the supermarket had more in it than any other supermarket we had visited in Canada - a great selection for such a small town. You can also take a seaplane ride over Tofino which I think would be really cool! You can go on boat rides to see super-old Oak trees on nearby islands or of course, one of the major attractions is whale watching or bear watching.
We decided to go whale watching with Jamie's Whaling station. The tour was good, the boat was bumpy and we felt pretty sick after 2 hours. I'd asked in the shop before we went which boat we would be going on and they assured me it was nothing like a Zodiac (a bouncy hovercraft thing) and we wouldn't feel sick at all. However, the deckhand announced that the boat we were on was EXACTLY like a zodiac and bounced and bounced and bounced. We were really glad to get off. We paid $250 for the two of us for 2 hours. Whales were guaranteed. What they don't tell you is yes you'll see the back of whales, you might see the odd whale tail if you are lucky, but if you want to see them breaching and playing, here is not the place to see that - you need to be in Mexico for that during their play time. We saw gray whales and humpbacks (they sometimes see orcas but not guaranteed) but both felt disappointed that they didn't breach as there were dozens of pictures in the shop of them breaching. Obviously they can't guarantee what the whale will do, but I felt it was a little misleading. We also felt we hardly got any time around the whales, they were more interested in taking us back via another route to see eagles and sea lions. Whilst they were great, we had gone to see whales and felt like we'd hardly see anything for the money we paid, on top of feeling really sick and let down by the boat, it wasn't the most fun we'd ever had! :(
Righhhhhht at the other end of the very longgggg road is a place called Ucluelet (known locally as Ukey)- it's mainly where the locals live but has some amazing walks and beaches too but is often overlooked by
tourists even though its totally gorgeous! We decided to go to Ucluelet as one of our whale watching friends had said bald eagles love to sit in the trees outside a cafe called Cynamoka. The coffee was great, the staff were really miserable and the damned eagles were not in their tree! Still, we didn't mind - but take heed people - the drive up and down to park in the coffee shop is STEEP, we scraped the bottom of the car both going up and down and lots of other cars did too - park on the road! We had a little drive around the beaches in Ucluelet and I concluded that it had had a really rough ride in terms of tourism, everyone seems to love Tofino but I think Ukey had a lot to offer as well and with more time we would have loved to have done some of the walks. Time wasn't on our side here and I do think 2-3 nights in Tofino/Ukey would have been perfect for us, but at least we got to see it and we would definitely go back!
I would love to go back to Tofino and Ukey for a few more days. It is well worth seeing and I'd love to see it in a different season (not sure I'd fancy the mountain drive in the winter though!). If you plan to go to Vancouver Island, try to see Tofino rather than Victoria or Nanaimo, it really is quite special and I imagine very similar to Washington State or Olympic National Park in terms of scenery. Gorgeous place, you won't regret visiting! DooYoo Mail me if you need any more tips or are thinking of visiting.
Summary: Awesome place, would love to go back.
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