The hush of a rainforest, its ancient cedars wreathed in ghostlike mist. The ocean, murmuring under masses of dark clouds, a symphony in shades of silver and grey. Rain, hurtling tempestuously from the sky. Waves, crashing violently on the shore, their spume arcing high above the rocks.

Summer may be peak season on the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island, but it is in the moody months of fall and winter that the coastline is at its most magical.

Just ask Charles McDiarmid. Growing up in Tofino, B.C., he loved his hometown in every kind of weather, but had a special fondness for the wild beauty of the stormy season. When he opened the Wickaninnish Inn in 1996, he knew he wanted to share that experience with his guests. And so he introduced the concept of “storm watching” as an attraction.

The Wick was the first of the local properties to market the weather, but now, just about every resort in Tofino and Ucluelet lures visitors with the opportunity to gaze upon nature’s fury from the comfort of a warm and cosy room.

In general, storm season lasts from November to March and features lots of wind and rain — nearly 50 centimetres (20 inches) a month on average — but hardly any snow. Temperatures rarely drop below freezing; in fact, it’s warmer here in winter than Vancouver or Victoria.

That means that most of the activities visitors enjoy in summer — hiking, biking, boating, wildlife watching, surfing — are still perfectly accessible in winter, as long as you don’t mind getting a little bit damp.

Many resorts will even offer outdoor gear for their guests to use during their adventures.

Those activities could include Long Beach Nature Tours’ stormy-day hikes along the coastline where once so many ships were dashed to pieces that it became known as the Graveyard of the Pacific.

Or they could be a visit to the Kwisitis Visitor Centre in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, which offers spectacular views of the waves rolling in on beaches strewn with storm-tossed driftwood.

Then again, there’s no real reason to venture out into the downpour if you really don’t want to.

A rainy day is a good excuse to visit the many galleries and boutiques featuring the works of local artists and artisans.

It’s also an opportunity to savour the huge array of exceptional dining.

And, of course, the rain is also a good excuse to stay in your cosy room, with a book, a glass of wine and a roaring fire, taking shelter in the warmth while enjoying the raw, wild beauty storming outdoors.


If you plan to soak in the stormy season on Vancouver Island’s west coast, these three resorts offer exceptional views, luxurious accommodation and terrific food and wine.

Find refuge from the storm at:

Wickaninnish Inn, Tofino ( This Relais & Chateaux property on Chesterman Beach offers the highest standard of rustic luxury on the coast; The Pointe restaurant offers exceptional fine dining and even better storm watching.

Long Beach Lodge Resort, Tofino ( It’s easy to while away a whole afternoon in the gorgeous Great Room here watching the clouds scud across Cox Bay, while you enjoy the upscale casual fare.

Black Rock Oceanfront Resort, Ucluelet ( Contemporary cool with a breathtaking setting right above a surge channel, plus a globally inspired menu in its restaurant, Fetch.

For more information: To learn more about travel to Tofino, Ucluelet and Vancouver Island, visit Tourism Tofino at or Destination BC at


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