I’ve been thinking recently about my favorite places and as every traveler will agree – it’s so difficult to pinpoint them. While some places always spring to mind first, others seem to flutter in and out of scope.
One place that always springs directly to mind is the idyllic town of Tofino. Some of you will know exactly where I mean, but for others it’s a very small town off the Clayoquot sound on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, Canada.
Whilst living in Vancouver, we were privileged enough to be able to explore Vancouver Island on a number of occasions. The ferry trip alone from Vancouver is worth the wait, weaving and meandering through a host of small archipelago islands before reaching Vancouver Island. The main town of Victoria is gorgeous and very well documented, however I had never heard of Tofino before. It was actually recommended to us by a work colleague Jamie, and was supported by praise such as ‘hidden gem’ and ‘most beautiful location in all of Canada.
After exiting the ferry the drive was astonishing, through some incredible beautiful forest and a place called Cathedral Grove boasting trees in excess of 800 years old. They are ginormous and utterly incredible, ascending toward the heavens with such grace. The windy road led us into the interior of the island, and we were suddenly surrounded by dominant mountain-scapes and beautiful lakes. It’s incredibly difficult to travel a lot of distance without a draw dropping landscape appearing either side of you.
Enter Tofino, it’s literally a small fishing village, far from the tourist mecca I was expecting. It just had a few local shops, cafes, hotels and a number of beaches located to its south. These were by far the best we have encountered in Canada thus far, so much so that you could park up and walk for miles. These cater more to the barren wilderness types than the sunbathers, but still were pretty impressive. We used them perfectly, walking a way then building a camp fire, toasting some marshmallows and watching the night creep in. From here there is no light pollution at all, so the sky is astonishing, littered with light from stars and planets – Its one of the best skies I have ever seen.
We took full advantage of Tofino, booking a hot springs and bear tour. The springs were a boat ride away in Maqinna Provincial Park, and were completely natural. They hadn’t been morphed into a swimming pool or tourist trap as a lot have. The water boils up from deep in the earth and cascades down a small cliff face into the series of natural layered rock pools, and is called by the Pacific Ocean. Although a tourist location, its natural state and wild location really do bring a unique experience out.
On route back from the park, and on the way to view the black bears, we sighted a humpback whale in the distance. We have been lucky enough to see whales many a times, but this one was breaching! Oh my goodness this was one of the best experiences of my life, as we approached one of the biggest creatures on earth, the noises it was making and the height it was breaching the surface at was transfixing. Once it stopped jumping, it actually waved to us with its fin before we left – Priceless! Definitely one of my favourite Wandering Memories.
That was not the end of our adventure, as we were scheduled to search for Black Bears up the beautiful wild coastline on route back to the town. Again we lucked out and experienced numerous sightings of these majestic incredible creatures. So lucky that we saw a mother with two cubs come down from the trees and parade the rocky beachfront in search of food. I had never seen a wild bear until that moment and completely fell in love with them there and then. The bond between mother and cub was demonstrated when she picked the smaller cub up in her mouth and carried him over a rocky embankment… Sublime!
Tofino was a mecca for wilderness and natural beauty. We were also incredibly privileged to see wild sea otters, Porpoises, Grey Whales, Chimpmunks, Starfish, Eagles and harbour seals all in their natural environment. It’s a completely different and captivating experience to watch these creatures as nature intended. My words honestly can’t do it justice.
The trip was tipped off by a trip to neighboring Ucluelet which housed the Pacific Rim National Park. The hike could be as long or as strenuous as you like, but essentially is a cliff walk along a very beautiful track. Stunning scenery.
As you can probably tell I honestly can’t find fault with this idyllic town, it really was the closest place to paradise I think I have encountered in all of my travels. A highlight of the Wandering Memory collection.
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