okokok, before you get on my case, yes, this post IS from last summer; yes, I’m aware it is currently February; yes, I really don’t care. Ok, with that out of the way, let’s begin!
I’m sure y’all know about Tofino. I mean, it’s only THE Vancouver Island destination. Or so non-islanders think. Of course, we all know that there is way more to Vancouver Island than just Tofino, but nevertheless Tofino is still pretty kick-ass. There is something like 1 million tourists that visit Tofino (and Ucluelet) every summer. A MILLION. Paired with the fact that there’s only about 2,000 residents who live there year-round, I’d say that’s pretty astonishing.
If you’re like me, you tend to avoid Tofino like the plague in the summer months. There’s just too many peOPLE. ALL. THE. TIME. Also Tofino is really cool to visit in the winter months for storm season. Anyways, back to my story. In August of last year, my extended family from Calgary came out to visit. Rowan, my two year old second cousin, LOVES the ocean. So we all thought – hey let’s all drive down to Tofino for the day!
From Nanaimo, it’s about a 2.5 hour drive to Tofino so definitely a doable day trip although it does make for a long day. We left
first thing at 10am from Parksville and made it just in time for lunch.
We stopped at this really cool outdoor shopping area that housed clothing stores, an art gallery, cafes and other cool spots in beach-side looking wooden buildings. If you don’t already know, Tofino and Ucluelet are super unique because they don’t allow a n y franchises. So you’ll find no McDonald’s here.
We snagged a table at Wildside Grill & Restaurant, under a shade tree, and made our way to the line up to order.
I obviously ordered fish & chips. I mean, I’m on the west coast, it’s a must, right? I also ordered a Blue Sky Soda but I was not a fan.
Since it was peak summer, we didn’t really want to head in to Long Beach, or any of the other beaches within the Pacific Rim National Park, because we knew it’d be a zoo. Instead, we headed to Chesterman Beach, which is situated right between Tofino and the national park. Bonus: no need to buy a park pass. Yasssss.
Chesterman Beach was still busy but there was plenty of beach to share. Chesterman is actually split into two beaches, north and south, by a spit of sand and rock. When the tide is high, the tip of the spit looks like a small island off the beach, but when the tide is low enough you can walk out to the peninsula and explore the rocky tip (eugh – not sure I like the use of the word tip there).
My dad and I went walking and exploring down the beach. One thing to note: even though it’s August and hot as Hades out, THE WATER IS STILL FREEZING. Like feet-cramping, skin-numbing freezing. Yet I still stubbornly walk through the water. And you know what I get? Sick. Every time I’ve been to Tofino I get a cold the next day. Luv you too, Tofino.
After our frolic on the beach, and Rowan trying to get in on the surfing action, we made our way into the actual town of Tofino for a little shopping.
As I mentioned above, there are no franchises allowed in Tofino. This makes shopping in Tofino a unique and fun experience. From hand-crafted jewelry, to Aboriginal art, to surf-side-shack-types, to hip boutiques, Tofino can accommodate any shopper.
We made our way into a few shops including the super rad Caravan Beach Shop. If you love vintage, surf, and dare I say hipster (but like cool hipster, not annoying shove it in your face hipster) then you’ll love this spot.
I didn’t end up buying anything (because I’m hella broke) but I imagine if I were a fancy tourist with lots of money that flies into Tofino on a seaplane for a weekend getaway at my million-dollar beach house, I’d spend all my money here.
After our fill of shopping, it was time to head home. Of course, after a long day of walking in the ocean and shopping (so tiring), I was knocked out flat on the drive home. I make such a great driving companion.
Do you prefer visiting Tofino & Ucluelet in the shoulder or off-seasons? Or do you brave the masses and visit in the summer-time? Let’s chat in the comments below!