Luxury and nature mingle in Tofino
“Great Canadian Weekends” feature customized itineraries of the nation’s finest destinations prepared by Vacay.ca, the Concierge to Canada. Travellers looking to get the most out of their stay will want to follow these tips and ideas from our travel experts. The series continues with a look at how to spend a Luxurious Weekend in Tofino.
Story by Adrian Brijbassi
Vacay.ca Managing Editor
TOFINO, BRITISH COLUMBIA — A trip to Tofino is increasingly more luxurious and sophisticated than in years past. The fishing village maintains its hippie vibe but has added a level of craftsmanship in its arts and culinary offerings that will please connoisseurs. You’ll find restaurants, galleries, spas and tour operators whose owners and key stakeholders are devoted to their pursuits as well as to the spirit of their laid-back and inclusive community.
In one month, Vacay.ca will announce the 20 Best Places to Travel in Canada for 2016 and Tofino will rank third. Road construction that slowed the drive into the village is scheduled to end and more flights into the local airport are under way. Festivals are expanding and the culinary ones in particular are attracting more well-known celebrities each year. There’s also a significant tourism-related anniversary taking place next year that will keep Tofino celebrating throughout 2016. Here’s a guide to a Great Canadian Weekend in this beautiful Pacific coast destination.
4 P.M.: Check-in at the Wickaninnish Inn (500 Osprey Lane)
This splendid Relais & Chateaux property will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2016. It has helped launch Tofino into recognition as a world-class, luxury destination that also stays true to its sense of place amid lush rainforests and the stormy Pacific coast. The Wick is one of the nation’s most venerable accommodations. Weekend room rates vary but expect to pay at least $250 per night in the offseason and $400 per night in high season.
6 P.M.: Dinner at the Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn
Executive chef Warren Barr oversees a menu that combines locally sourced ingredients with impressive culinary skill, delivering one of the most exquisite and artfully presented dining experiences in Canada. Try one of the tasting menus (five courses for $95; six courses for $110).
10 A.M.: Cruise the Broken Group Islands (1634 Cedar Road, Ucluelet)
Following breakfast at the Wick Inn’s Driftwood Cafe, catch a boat tour with Archipelago Wildlife Cruises, based out of neighbouring Ucluelet. The 5.5-hour tour aboard the company’s 53-foot yacht travels through the enchanting Broken Group Islands, where you will spot sea lions, bears, eagles and whales. Rates starts at $159 per adult and lunch is available on board for an additional $26.
6 P.M.: Dinner at Wolf in the Fog (150 4th Street)
Nicholas Nutting, the former chef at the Wickaninnish Inn, has won wide acclaim since opening this casual fine-dining location in the heart of the village. Named to the Vacay.ca Top Restaurants in Canada Rankings for 2015, Wolf in the Fog serves eclectic dishes that are hard to find anywhere else. There’s a very good seaweed salad whose main ingredient comes from the tiny community of Bamfield ($8) and charred Humboldt squid ($16) caught from the waters surrounding Tofino.
10 P.M.: Nightcap at Jamie’s Rainforest Inn (1258 Pacific Rim Highway)
Jamie’s is a local’s favourite and it’s less than a kilometre from the Wickaninnish Inn, so you can easily walk there from your hotel room. A Saturday night special features cocktails for $6 after 10 p.m.
10 A.M.: Hike in Pacific Rim National Park
Work off your breakfast by hitting the trails in one of the crown jewels of Canada’s national parks system. There are a number of trails in the park to choose from and many adjoin the famed West Coast Trail, a gruelling 75-kilometre stretch that would take about five days to complete. On your weekend trip, though, you can go at a more casual pace. The interpretive signs on the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail (2.5 km) detail the importance of the land to the First Nations groups in the region while the Schooner Cove Trail (1 km) leads through dense forest to a lovely beach setting.
2 P.M.: Massage at Sacred Stone Spa (368 Main Street)
Proof that Tofino knows how to cater to sophisticated tastes can be found at this little spa whose massage therapists are just as skilled as those you would find in a major city. The spa’s Signature Massage costs $95 for one hour and is ideal after a hike.
6 P.M.: Dinner at SoBo (311 Neill Street)
The name is short for “Sophisticated Bohemian,” which is the impression chef and owner Lisa Ahiers wants to make with her cuisine. An American expatriate trained at the Culinary Institute of America, Ahiers uses ingredients sourced from farms and suppliers on Vancouver Island in her dishes that evoke the south. The Killer Fish Tacos ($6.50 each) have been a favourite for years.
9 A.M.: Grab a Cup at Tofino Coffee Roasting Co. (605 Gibson Street, Suite 112)
The coffee served here is carefully sourced from small farmer-owned operations in locations around the world. Whether you’re a java aficionado or someone who just appreciates high-quality products, a morning cup here will open your eyes — in more ways than one. Once you’ve perked up walk a couple of blocks to Common Loaf Bakery (180 1st Street) for a hearty, homemade breakfast.
11 A.M.: Artisan Shopping in the Village
Tofino has cute, interesting shops that represent the character of their owners. Some you might like to explore include Castaways (455 Campbell Street), which has a variety of vintage clothing and unique used items. Tofino DNA Clothing (411 Main Street) sells clothing and jewelry created in the village. Green Soul Organics (150 4th Street) retails products that promote wellness and healthy nutrition.
2 P.M.: Beer to Go at Tofino Brewing Company (681 Industrial Way)
You don’t want to leave Tofino empty handed, so be sure to visit this excellent microbrewery and pub. While in Tofino, you’ll no doubt have the chance to taste several of the Tofino Brewing Company’s beers. Find your favourite at the brewery store to enjoy when you get back home. I highly recommend the Kelp Stout. Don’t let the name fool you — it is a tasty, unique and hard-to-find treat.