Located on Vancouver Island in beautiful British Columbia, Tofino is the crown jewel of Canada's West Coast. The stunning beauty and ecological diversity of Tofino's location in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is the source of all activities. Beachcomb along kilometers of sandy beach, take up a surf lesson or snuggle inside with your favourite hot bevy and watch the waves crash against the rocks. The opportunities are endless on the edge of Canada's West Coast.
This is simply one of my favourite hotels in British Columbia. I have stayed at the Wick several times over the last few years and find it to be one of the best places to relax and unwind.
Situated on an outcrop between the Pacific Ocean, Chesterman Beach and a rainforest of giant evergreens, the Wickaninnish Inn exudes rustic elegance on nature's edge. A Relais & Châteaux property since 1997, the Inn features two contemporary cedar buildings providing a range of guest rooms and suites which all offer ocean or beach-to-ocean views, gas fireplace, soaker tub and an individual balcony. The linens are Frette, the decor is soothing and I love falling asleep and waking up to the the sound of the surf. Another nice touch was that our room also came fully equipped with beach towels, blankets, backpacks and rain gear!!
One of my favourite things about this hotel is how fantastic they are with pets. We usually bring our chocolate labrador, Rypien (pronounced "Rippin'), whenever we visit and the hotel and the staff are always so accommodating. From dog beds, toys and treats to towels, dishes and poo bags (they even had a nail filer) the hotel has it covered!
The Wick also offers dog sitting services! On our most recent stay at the hotel we had scheduled a full day of salmon fishing with a local guide and since we didn't want to leave our dog in the hotel room all day we decided to arrange for a day of dog sitting. They assigned a staff member to hang out with Rypien for the entire day. Together, they got up to all sorts of fun from morning hikes to long beach walks and afternoon swims. Rypien is certainly in dog heaven here, truly one pampered pooch!
The Pointe Restaurant, Wickaninnish Inn
If you're staying at the Wick you must have at least one meal at the Inn's Pointe Restaurant. The dining room takes full advantage of the beautiful coastline with a wall of windows and 240 degree views of the beach and ocean. Chef Warren Barr serves up refined Pacific Northwest cuisine and the service is always on point and friendly.
The restaurant is truly the top of the Tofino food scene. Upon returning to our room after a day of activities we were delighted to have a personal message from Chef Warren Barr on our answering machine. He asked if there was anything in particular we would like to request for dinner, and if so, that he would be happy to prepare anything we wanted! Ecstatic by the news we wasted no time in getting back in touch with him and requested a crab feast for our final night. It was nothing short of spectacular! What a treat!
I've eaten at this restaurant a few times and have always enjoyed its casual yet lively atmosphere. Whether it's lunch or dinner this place always seems to be busy with a mix of surfers, hipsters and loved up couples. The interesting and ever changing menu features artistic edible delights that are both authentic and rustic and always made from fresh local ingredients.
The kitchen always looks fast paced and lively with loud pots and pans banging in appreciation of the 6-pack beers being bought for the kitchen staff as a tip by customers. The service was friendly and informative, however I find the dining experience to be a bit hurried and rushed. This is certainly not the place to go if you want to make an evening out of your dining experience. The Wolf in the Fog is a great restaurant nonetheless and a must do when in Tofino.
Norwoods Restaurant, Ucluelet
An outstanding little restaurant in the heart of Ucluelet! The food is the real star with great fish features and imaginative recipes. Lovely flavours, beautiful presentation and great attention to detail. The service was brilliant, friendly, knowledgeable and professional. Be sure to order the west coast seafood experience appetizer - the tempura halibut is to die for! The restaurant is quite a small space with limited seating so be sure to book in advance.
Tucked away at the back of the 'Live to Surf' complex, TacoFino Cantina is an unassuming little orange food truck that serves up the best fish tacos in town. The ingredients are always fresh and the food is very tasty with lots of great flavours. The atmosphere is pretty casual and there is a nice outdoor seating area that is usually packed with the local surfing crowd. If you don't get there early be prepared to wait as the lines can get very long - which can absolutely suck, especially if you're already hungry.
The Big Tree Trail, Meares Island, Tofino
Located on Meares Island, the Big Tree Trail consists of a 3 km loop that winds its way amongst some very big - and very old - trees, ranging from 1,000 - 1,500 years old! The trail was conceived in 1984 as a protest against logging on Meares Island and is now a well preserved old growth forest that consists of spruce, hemlock and western red cedar. The trail itself is moderate in difficulty and features a combination of boardwalk and dirt trail/forest floor - it can be muddy in places so make sure you wear the appropriate footwear.
Transportation to Meares Island can be arranged through one of Tofino's water taxi services. Alternatively, you can hop in a kayak and cruise on over to the island on Tofino's calm inside waters.
Wild Pacific Trail, Ucluelet
A walk around the Wild Pacific Trail has become a ritual during any of my trips to Tofino. Vistas and views abound on this easy trail and I love winding my way through the old growth trees, twisted trunks, roots, ferns and moss of this rainforest as it hugs the wild coastline.
There are three different walks but I usually opt for the "Lighthouse Loop", which usually takes me between 30 - 45 minutes - depending how often I stop to take in the view and snap a few photos. It's a great destination for storm watchers, bird watchers, photographers and hikers of all abilities.
Ancient Cedars Spa, The Wickaninnish Inn, Chesterman Beach, Tofino
The Ancient Cedars Spa is Tofino's premiere oasis of relaxation and well-being. This spa has been enchanting me for years and I always look forward to my treatments here. My go-to's are their nature inspired treatments, especially the 90 minute hot stone massage in the beach cabin - it's the absolute perfect indulgence.
Don't just grab a massage here, take the time to plan and arrive at least 30 minutes before your treatment. Trust me, you'll want to take full advantage of the glorious eucalyptus steam cave and have time for a foot soak and a cup of tea with a to die for view before you start your treatment.
Also, be sure to make your appointments shortly after confirming your guest room or suite reservations to ensure preferred treatments and times as it fills up fast!
Sport Fishing - Salmon & Halibut
On our most recent trip to Tofino this past June we headed out for a full day of fishing with Cleanline Sportfishing. This was our first fishing adventure with Cleanline and it was great - good fishing, good guide and a clean and comfortable boat. We left the dock early in the morning and maxed out on chinook salmon and halibut by the afternoon.
The weather, however, was not so good - rough water, big waves, rain and very very grey and cloudy. So much so that because we were so far offshore we couldn't see any land!! And let me tell ya it can be a bit nerve racking when you're out in the middle of the ocean and not able to tell which way the land is.
I had only been salmon fishing twice before this, once in Port Renfrew and the other time at the Sonora Resort, which was definitely my favourite fishing experience as there was amazing scenery and the water was much calmer (given the location of the resort).
Tofino is Canada's undisputed surf capital and the sport is a year round activity here - though you'll need a wetsuit. Surfing is certainly one of the things to do (or watch) while in Tofino, where waves break against a spectacular backdrop of wide sandy beaches and temperate rainforest. If you're new to the sport and want to test it out there are a number of surf schools in town for those needing lessons - Surf Sister is great and features all female surf instructors.
Many vacationers want to avoid storms, but during the winter months, the rough weather is a plus in Tofino. It's one of my favourite times of year to visit Tofino. The giant swells, crashing waves and gale force winds of the mighty Pacific storms can be admired from November to March. Whether watching from the comfort of your guest room or bundled up outside in the elements, winter storm watching is an awe-inspiring experience complete with dramatic beauty and heart pounding drama.
Tofino has lots of other activities to offer and there are lots of other water sports that can be enjoyed such as kayaking and paddle boarding. You can take a boat ride around the area's rugged coastline and numerous islands. Spring is the time to see the Gray Whale migration and bear watching is available spring through October. One trip not to miss: visiting the Hot Springs. It's a 26-nautical mile boat ride to the completely natural hot springs.