Tofino could be another name for heaven

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Posted July 10, 2013 by Miguel Strother in British Columbia
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The Pacific Rim Trail is part of the attraction in Tofino, an outrageously beautiful locale on the western edge of Vancouver island. (Julia Pelish/Vacay.ca)

Story by Miguel Strother
Vacay.ca Sports Editor, Western Canada

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Who says you can’t have fun in the rain? On Chesterman Beach, these sand castles offer a priceless memory from a Tofino family vacation. (Miguel Strother/Vacay.ca)

TOFINO, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Have you ever imagined choosing your next adventure by closing your eyes, spinning a globe, putting your finger on a random spot and jumping on the next plane or boat or truck to said destination immediately thereafter? Well, if you ever do, I hope the tip of your finger nail presses down on Tofino, and that you end up at the Wickaninnish Inn.

Yes, that idea of the completely random, spur-of-the-moment vacation to a mystery destination is a romantic one. And Tofino remains among my top five vacation spots not only in Canada, but the entire world. However, for somebody who travels a lot, stuffing a bag at least a couple of times a week, I always pack too heavy. Always. I am the guy who shoves that extra pair of shoes in the carry-on, the extra camera lens in the computer tote, the guy whose bag is always pushing tilt on the airport weight limit. In fact, I am on the road as I write this, a little two-to-three-day jaunt, and I just reached into my bag to grab a sweater and, no word of a lie, I packed my own iron.

And under this curse of the overpacking, that no-planning, show-up-at-the–airport-and-go scenario, I can’t help but get a little nervous. What if you were to wind up in the mountains without boots? At a good break without a surfboard? A good beach without a bikini? Las Vegas without cash? Or a friend’s place without an iron? Tofino’s hallmark hotel, the Wickaninnish Inn, basically nullifies the need, even for me, to pack anything at all.

I get the sense somebody could show up at the Wick in the dead of winter in a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, and wind up having the adventure of a lifetime. Whether that is surfing, fishing, kayaking, golfing or pretty much recreating in any way at all. No rubber boots? No problem. Nothing to read? No problem. No babysitter? No problem. No surfboard? No problem. Just ask the front desk. That is, if they haven’t already asked you in an all-Canadian-surf-kid kind of way first. Bottomline, the staff at the Wick will set you up with whatever you need to have a great time.

Rain Part of Family Fun in Tofino

Even for an overly active, adventurous traveller, the Wick does come with a caveat. The property, a member of the Relais & Chateaux empire, sits on an outcropping of rock, sand and corduroy over Chesterman Beach. It has perfect vantages of the Pacific Ocean cut through the ancient cedars and is within a walk or bike ride of any number of great breaks, from the Tofician to Cox Bay.  There is a universe of possibility within sight of one of the carefully wrapped, private ocean-side balconies. You’ll find you can yoga, surf, fish, dive, or take a painting class within a seashell’s throw. But once you are in at the Inn, enjoying its genuine understanding of not only luxury but of just how special of a location it sits upon, well, it’s very, very hard to leave. From the coffee bar in the basement to the picture windows beside the bathtub, the place is pretty much self-contained perfection and will relax even the most rambunctious.

For this trip I had my children, 5 and 6 years old, and there was heavy weather expected. (Side note: In most places, like any traveller, I fear rainy days. However, Tofino is perhaps the single best place in the world to take in a rainstorm.) And if I pack heavy when I am travelling on my own, give me two kids, a rainstorm and a motor vehicle, and I might just find a fixture from the kids’ kitchen to fit in. On top of that, I had intended to take those little rug rats surfing for the first time.

Now, just because I bring lots of things, doesn’t always mean I bring the right things. And while unloading luggage, including wet suits, snacks, sand shovels, rain jackets, and rubber boots, the kids (ok, me too!) excitedly decided they wanted to head right to the beach that is within steps of the Wick. So once I got everything in (I always insist on doing it myself, probably out of embarrassment for how much I have) and started to rain-proof said rug rats, I realized that I had made a few key omissions. The biggest of which were matching rubber boots and more than one sand shovel.

After a few muttered curse words in between the “It’s my shovel!” cry, I was quick to discover that on the table in my room sat a full set of sand toys, complete with two shovels. And in the closet two sets of complete raingear, including boots. And while that rain gear was for adults it triggered a quick call to the front desk, which turned up two complete sets of matching kids rain gear, including boots.

Within a couple of minutes of that serendipitous discovery, we were walking on the beach, plucking sand dollars, poking urchins, putting together a sandcastle, and pointing at surfers cutting across the raging seas.

We hardly even noticed the rain, staying perfectly dry and none of the rain gear we brought ourselves even made it out of our room. Surfing will have to wait for next time because, as it turns out, our rain gear wasn’t the only thing that was perfectly satisfied to stay put. Between the comfy beds, the incredible view, the library, the babysitter, one of the best ocean-side (it’s more like ocean-top) restaurants in Canada, the coffee shop, and the beach right out the front of our room, and of course the sand toys, we were all content to stay as close to the Wick as we could. After all, we had everything we could ever need.

More About the Wickaninnish Inn

Location: 500 Osprey Lane, Tofino, BC (see map below)
Getting Here: Driving from Victoria takes about four hours, travelling north and then west on the Trans-Canada Highway. From Vancouver, visitors travelling by car take one of the BC Ferries‘ sailings from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo, and connect with the Trans-Canada for a three-hour drive on the Trans-Canada. Float plane service to Tofino is also available from Victoria or Vancouver.
Reservations/Contact: Telephone 1-800-333-4604 or visit the hotel’s website.
Room Rates: A minimum two-night stay is required during several summer dates. Check the hotel website’s calendar to plan your visit. A recent search for room rates for an August weekend returned results with suites starting at $500 per night.
Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada Rank for 2013: The Wick Inn’s Pointe Restaurant ranks 41 (27 in 2012).
Vacay.ca Managing Editor Adrian Brijbassi says: “This magical place overlooking the Pacific not only has one of the best settings for a restaurant in the world, it delivers as classy a dining experience as you’ll find anywhere in Canada.”


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About the Author

Miguel Strother
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Miguel is an award-winning writer who has travelled from the palaces of Russia to the temples of Japan to the jungles of Indonesia and back again, writing and publishing all the while. As a lifelong sports lover he’s written about everything from NBA basketball to skiing with sasquatches. Miguel’s worked as the Pacific Northwest Editor for OnTheSnow.com, features editor for Black Press, and the editor-in-chief of forgetmagazine.com. He currently owns Tree Communication, a creative services branch specializing in web content production for the travel and tourism, education, and architecture and design industries. He lives, works, and teaches from his creative base in the rural reaches of northern Vancouver Island.

 
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