Written by Nazmi Kamal – Instructor – Travel and Tourism Program
It is almost 8:30 on a damp and dark April evening. After an almost six-hour drive from Vancouver, including a fun one-hour ferry ride, my wife and I finally glimpse a road sign telling us we’re close to our destination, Tofino. A short twenty minutes later, the receptionist at Long Beach Lodge (1441 Pacific Rim Highway) welcomed us with a soft, unpretentious smile while she checked us into our sea-view room.
The lodge is one of many other accommodation properties scattering the western-most coast of Canada. In the room, the combination of a retro armchair by the fireplace and the sound of the breaking waves tickled a cozy sense I have rarely felt before. A soak in the hot tub felt utopian.
The lodge’s Great Room offers full panoramic views of the West Coast, parallel to no other. In the morning, my Dungeness crab Eggs Benedict was offered next to a generous serving of roasted Yukon gold potatoes and fresh-cut fruits, an ideal start to a seemingly sunny, but windy morning. Near 10am, a trail of foot prints slowly dissolved into the clear muddy sands of the beach as groups of surfers flocked into the high waves. The younger boys stayed on the beach to enjoy boogie boarding in their seal-like wet suits. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing on the wooden lounger chairs at the lodge’s open terrace, absorbing some sun and words of wisdom from the books we started reading months ago.
For dinner, we headed to the surprisingly pleasing Shelter (601 Campbell Street). The ambience was cozy, casual but also semi-formal, cabin-like and friendly. We started with the latest daily offering of oysters. As we progressed in to the main course, my moist medium-rare lamb sirloin went very well with the homemade butternut squash and potato gnocchi. My wife was also perfectly pleased with the pairing she had of homemade spaghetti with mussels and a crispy Pinot Grigio.
Tofino offers many breathtaking trails that run close or parallel to the coast line. A walk along the South Beach Trail testifies to the majesty and the beauty of this magical spot. The walk led us directly into unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean and Florencia Islet. We could not help but to let our inner children play as we attempted to toddle our way through the rock formations and sea star colonies.
No visit to Tofino is complete without a quick stop for a succulent order of tacos from Tacofino (1184 Pacific Rim highway). The permanently-positioned food truck is the town’s hotspot for locals and visitors alike to indulge in a fiesta of the palate. We ordered four different tacos and each had its own unique character. The Tuna-Ta Taco stood out as its delicate blend of sweet, spice, crunch, hot, and lime made me feel like a pirate who just found his grand prize.
A late afternoon walk around the village took us through a number of traditional craft stores and art galleries showcasing their handmade artifacts and west coast art. We both decide to enjoy a roadside break on a wooden bench to enjoy an ice cream. We just happened to have another grand view, but this time of the pristine Deadman Islets.
Tofino is a celebration of the senses. I have never felt more alive with my mind, body and soul all nourished through a true manifestation of west coast tradition. It is a town that certainly fulfills the unspoken wishes and needs of anyone in need of a truly rejuvenating weekend getaway.