Tofino is top-notch May through August, but true west-coasters know the wet and windy surf-destination is worthy of its accolades year-round. We slipped away on an extra long weekend in February for an incredible mini-vacation that has us itching to head back soon. From three meter swells to a world-class meal, it was a weekend worth talking about. Here are a few of our Tofino highlights.
The first item on the agenda was a 3 hour surf lesson with Tofino Surf School. There are an overwhelming number of surf schools in Tofino and choosing one online can be a daunting task. In the end, we went with Jeffro because his prices were the best and there were plenty of rave reviews on his site. Verdict? We picked good. Jeffro was professional (yet fun) and relaxed (yet diligent). It was grey and raining hard even by Tofino standards, but our wetsuits were warm and we were having too much fun to care. Maybe it was the weather, or maybe it was luck, but there was not another soul on the beach that afternoon. It was a perfect Tofino day.
We consider ourselves pretty savvy when it comes to Vancouver Island points of interest, but we only discovered the Tofino hot springs a little while ago. Located in Maquinna Provincial Park, the springs are only accessible by plane or boat. We booked a tour through Tofino Whale Centre, but several Tofino tour companies travel there. The 2 hour boat ride was an incredible way to see the coastline and the vast ocean, and if the season is right you might even spot a whale or two. Tip: take Gravol or you won’t be enjoying the view at all – the open ocean swells were 2 to 3 meters. On land, it’s a 30 minute (or so) walk through the rainforest to the hot springs. The springs are tightly packed, but piping hot and soothing. The best part? We packed a post-soak picnic to enjoy from the rocks overlooking the waves – miraculously, there was not a cloud in the sky that day.
Food journalist Andrew Braithwaite named it Canada’s Best New Restaurant, and while we haven’t traveled as far and wide as Braithwaite has, we’d have to agree. Wolf in the Fog is a new favourite of ours for its stunning interior, gracious staff, and most of all, its remarkable food. At the helm of the new restaurant is head chef Nicholas Nutting from The Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn. From the moment it started, the meal was an experience. It began with a potato crusted oyster with apple and truffle and a Bamfield seaweed salad with shitakes, wild rice and daikon. From a selection of five sharing platters we chose the ‘Mighty Duck‘ – a whole B.C. duck, beetroot and gorgonzola lasagne, and blood orange salad (other enticing options included fried chicken with corn bread and an Arabian lamb shank). The grand finale was butterscotch brulee with caramelized white chocolate and raspberry gelato. Trust us (and Braithwaite) when we say Wolf in the Fog is not to be missed.
The Cabins at Terrace Beach in Ucluelet is a really cool little resort. We only crossed-paths with other guests at check-in and check-out, so if you’re into privacy then this is your place. The staff we did see was incredibly kind and accommodating (but we might be a little bias because they upgraded us to a huge two bedroom cabin). The cabin itself inspired many “we could totally have a place like this one day!” comments over crib and wine. That’s a sign of a good cabin. The only downside to our stay was our own poor planning. The drive between Ucluelet and Tofino is about 45 minutes, and every activity we planned took place in Tofino.