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Somehow most things just seems to be 'larger than life' on Vancouver Island - maybe it's all that rain? - and that even includes the driftwood.
I am used to driftwood of fairly modest proportions - a branch here, a root there - but the waters around Vancouver Island are full of whole tree trunks which get washed down rivers by the heavy rain and transported by the strong currents. I imagine that these could be quite a hazard if you were in a kayak or a small boat, but once they wash up on shore - such as here, on Long Beach, just south of Tofino - they bring out the creative instinct in wannabe Robinson Crusoes!
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I just love the concept of 'storm chasing', where people actively seek out bad weather: it's just so counterintuitive!
As a marketing concept, it's hard to beat. Rather than be apologetic about the atrocious weather, simply turn it to your advantage and attract visitors in your low season with slogans along the lines of, "Weather so bad you have to experience it for yourself!" [OK, so I made that one up, but you get my drift ...]
Storm chasing is big in the Pacific North West, and has become one of the fastest growing sectors of the Canadian tourism market. It is cunningly packaged to encourage visitors to experience the grandeur of winter storms rolling in off the oceans (words like 'majesty', 'awesome' and 'spectacle' feature frequently in the tourist literature) from the comfort of luxury lodges which offer crackling open fires, fine dining and spa facilities. The value proposition is that whilst you'll return from your walk windswept and soaked, this is an invigorating counterpoint to the cosy haven into which you then retreat.
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It's hard to see from the photo - and even harder to fathom - but even in the teeth of torrential rain, one hardy kite surfer was still doing his thing on Long Beach!
It's not hard to see why this spot would be so popular with kite surfers and more conventional surfies. The wind blowing in from the Pacific generates excellent waves onto a gently sloping beach, and as a result, this stretch of coastline offers the only really viable surfing conditions in Canada.
Long Beach has played host to a Cold Water Classic surfing event on several occasions. As you would expect from the name, thick wetsuits are essential to cope with the chilly water conditions - usually about 11°C in October (plus wind chill factor) when the event is usually held. However, these waters can be treacherous, as there are powerful rip currents off the beach, so only strong swimmers should venture out into deeper water, and children should be kept under close supervision.
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Of all the attractions that the Tofino/Ucluelet area has to offer, the 'bog walk' is perhaps the most distinctive. Compared to the towering splendour of the Rainforest Walk and Cathedral Grove, taking a stroll on a boardwalk through a bog may sound like rather a tame prospect, but actually it's a terrific experience and well worth doing.
Bogs and marshes are much underrated environments, and the complexity of this ecosystem is enhanced by the fact that it is located only a stone's throw from the sea, bringing an additional saline dynamic into play. However, this remains a true bog rather than a salt marsh, as it is sustained by fresh water and isn't physically connected to the sea.
I spent a lot of my childhood summers in the bogs of Ireland, and I have never ceased to marvel at how beautifully intricate they are. Unlike forests - which are dominated by their macro components, the enchantment of bogs is in the detail and the interplay of tiny plants - such as the mosses and heathers in the photo above - and the fact that the bog walk and the rain forest trail are located within a few minutes drive of each other gives you a wonderful opportunity to compare and contrast the two. I would imagine that on a less rainy day, there would also be quite a variety of wildlife here - particularly amphibians - but the torrential rain that accompanied our visit had prompted most sensible animals (ourselves excluded) to take cover.
Once you've paid your park entrance fee, the bog walk is free, and it will probably only take you about half an hour to complete the loop unless you're an ardent botanist. The boardwalk is flat, so - unlike the rainforest walk - access is good for the mobility impaired.
Just bear in mind that bogs are reliant on heavy and frequent rain to sustain them, and the afternoon that we visited, it was absolutely bucketing down. The few trees that exist in the bog are little more than stunted bushes, so there's no shelter, so make sure that you have rainwear. Equally, if you are fortunate enough to visit on a fine day, you'll need to make sure that you have a hat and sunscreen to protect you from getting sunburned as there's no shade.
Finally, the bog walk is located close to a First National cultural centre, which is accessed via the same turn off from the main road - this would probably also be an excellent place to retreat if the weather turns foul. Unfortunately we ran short of time and couldn't fit in a visit there, but if you combined the bog walk, the cultural centre and the rain forest walk (perhaps stopping off at Long Beach on the way back to Tofino), you could easily keep yourself occupied for the best part of a day.
Beautifully broad beach with fine sand and great views out to the sound and also to a nearby island which is you can walk to during low tides. There is a convenient parking lot close to the coastal road south of Tofino, and Chesterman Beach is also accessible from the "Tofino beach bus" as well.
This is said to be Tofino's favorite beach. There's good reason. Kite-flying and surfing are popular activities here.
Tonquin Beach is a little off the beaten path but well worth the detour. It's a secluded beach that looks out over a quiet cove and a small island in the bay. We enjoyed the interesting rock formations and the array of sea life found in tidal ponts around the beach area.
Tonquin Beach is about a 15 minute walk to the south of Tofino Village. Take 1st street away from the built-up area. Follow Arnet Rd. and then Arnet Ln. to the trailhead for a small boardwalk path that winds through the forest and then down about 70 steps to the beach itself.
Interesting bog and rainforest trail that winds through the woods to the south of the Kiwitis Visitor's Center. The trail ends at Florencia Bay, a dramatic clearing that leads down to a pristine beach.
Interesting displays of local First Nations Peoples and their interaction with the remarkable environment on this side of Vancouver Island. Indigenous peoples themselves were directly involved with the planning and design of the visitors center, and were also responsible for the name. Members of the Yuu-thlu-ilth-ath First Nation recommended and supported the new term "Kwisitis, " meaning "other end of the beach," because it is the name of the area that the building resides on.
This provides an excellent overview of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
There are a number of different outfits that offer whale watching trips in and around Tofino Bay. I can just report that I was extremely satisfied with everything about the experience my friend Al and I with the Whale Center. Our guide/boat navigator was experienced, knowledgeable, and wry, and we really appreciated the clear sense that we were in the hands of someone who knew where to find the whales in the water - and how to approach them sensibly and sensitively.
We had good fortune on our mid-morning trip: we were able to see half a dozen orcas and more than a few humpbacks as well. You couldn't help but notice that our boat was usually the first to scout out the massive sea mammals: the boats in the water tend to flock around a common sighting, like paparazzi heading toward Prince William and Kate. Well, whales are like celebrities, too!
I loved a lot of things about Tofino, but I would say that whale-watching was definitely the highlight of my time there. Don't miss out!
Long beach in Tofino is surprise,surprise a long beach just outside the west coast town of Tofino.Popular with surfers,kayakers,swimmers and walkers.A great place to take in the sights and sounds of the shore.Can get very windy here like most of the west coast of the island so wrap up warm,even in the summer.There are nearby hiking trails and public footpaths as well to burn off that big lunch.Great for photos and taking in mother nature.
Jamie's offers tours in Tofino and Ucluelet on state of the art zippy zodiac style vessels for those who crave adventure, or the west coast's only large, luxury whale watch vessels, the 65 foot,'Leviathan II' in Tofino or the 'Lady Selkirk' from Ucluelet.
Abundant to the West Coast of Vancouver Island, the Black Bear makes its presence known when the tides are low. They roam the shores in search of their favourite delicacy, the Rock Crab.
These moments offer grand opportunities to view the Black Bear in their natural habitat from the comfort of our 24-ft zodiac or 45 ft semi-covered zodiac. Departures times change daily and are based on low tides.
This is a great thing to do in the Tofino surf and very popular with locals and tourists alike.
When the waves are just right it looks like a fantastic ride.
Because the water is very cold, wetsuits are a must. There are quite a few surf shops in Tofino and lessons are readily available and also there is equipment to rent.
Kayaking on the Pacific can be sometimes challenging and dangerous yet ALWAYS beautiful !!
There are a bevy of operations in the town of Tofino that will guide you in and around the area.
Short two to three hour trips are available as well as longer multi night camping and kayak adventures.
Sorry... there are none that I would recommend but they are easily found.
Tofino and Clayoquot Sound are situated right alongside the North South migration route of the Grey Whale.In the Spring they migrate from Winter calving grounds in and around the Baja Peninsula North to Summer feeding areas in and around Alaska.In the Fall the reverse happens and once again they go right past the general area.
There are again a large selection of companies that are available to take you out....I have once upon a time gone along with one company but I will not make any recommendations for you.
The link I will provide you with below is for the Tofino Chamber of Commerce