While in a bar in Toronto I got chatting to a lady about the best places to travel in Canada. Tofino was her number one recommendation. She showed me photos on her phone and I was sold. I turned to Neil and told him we had to visit Tofino. So we did.
It’s a small surf village, one of the west-most places on Vancouver Island. We drove the narrow, windy route reminiscent of New Zealand roads. It was the middle of winter, not the most ideal time to be visiting a beach destination, but turns out we experienced the magic of winter instead – snow falling on the ocean, a rare sighting of gray whales migrating north to Artic feeding waters, and trekking in minus temperatures to natural hot springs to strip down and warm up.
Surprisingly, Tofino has an abundance of delicious cuisine options. For such a small town, we were taken aback by the quality of the food.
Wolf in the Fog – there are no better words than their own (from the website): “We’re anchored to the ocean, from the sea views from our patio to the amazing local fishermen who provide us with such an abundance of fresh seafood. We’re proud to be a part of this culinary community in such a quirky corner of Canada, right at the end of the road.”
Kuma Tofino – the seasonal winter ramen was to. die. for. This suave but relaxed Japanese fusion eatery supports eating local, fresh foods with plenty of seafood – octopus, salmon, tuna etc. It’s a small, cozy space, and super popular with the locals so it fills up fast. And now we know why! They didn’t have a dessert menu per se, but as soon as our waitress mentioned “matcha white chocolate browine” I knew my taste buds were in for a treat.
There are hundreds of outdoor activities to try in Tofino, it was near-impossible to choose. We spent our one full day on the Pacific Ocean, whale watching, spotting sea otters, bald eagles, humpback and gray whales, and seals. We had a wild boat ride north to Hot Springs Cove (only reachable by boat or seaplane). A storm was approaching, 3 meter swells, snow falling on the ocean, and here we were, venturing out to a remote inlet in Maquinna Marine Provincial Park to bathe in steaming natural springs among jagged rocks spilling down into the freezing ocean below. Canadian nature at its finest.
We also went on a few hikes – Tofino encompasses coastal temperate rainforests with an abundance of unique vegetation. I only wish we had more time to explore.
We really didn’t need to use our car the whole time we were there because we stayed central (easily done given it’s such a small town) – we could have walked to everywhere we needed to go if it hadn’t been so cold. We stayed at a gorgeous AirBnb with views of the ocean. Had it been summer, there are so many camping grounds I would have loved to try, right on the beaches with sweeping ocean views. I can imagine the population swelling like crazy in the summer months, creating a buzzing vacation destination. Hopefully we will one day venture back to experience Tofino basking in sunshine.