Why I Fell in Love with Tofino, British Columbia

I’m a California girl at heart, having spent my twenties and early thirties in the state and exploring it every chance I got. I love California, from the southern beaches to the rugged landscape and forests of California’s northern coastline. Why am I talking about California right now when the title of this post obviously means it’s about Tofino, British Columbia?

Because I feel like California is a tangible travel destination most people know about, while Tofino isn’t even on the radar of most people who live just on the other side of the sea of the island Tofino is on (that would be the Salish Sea and Vancouver Island in case you were wondering).

And Tofino is like the best parts of California all rolled into one small, special place.

Which is why I seriously don’t know why it’s not talked about more (maybe because everyone is trying to keep it on the down low before it gets overrun with Americans; so maybe I should stop talking, but oh yeah, I’m a travel blogger, so here goes…go to Tofino, people!)

But back to why I think it’s like California.

For starters, Tofino is a major surf destination. Where we stayed at Pacific Sands Beach Resort right by Cox Bay Beach, there were surfers there morning, noon, and night, most of whom I assumed were locals judging by their skill level (i.e. they were good), but visitors who wanted to surf could easily rent a board, too. Pacific Sands had a surf shop onsite and places to store your board right by your accommodation as well as numerous outdoor showers.

Surf, Sand, and Pine Trees in Tofino, British Columbia

So we get to Tofino the first night and go stand out on Cox Bay Beach and stare west with our feet in soft sand that stretches all around us for what feels like miles, and it’s like I’m back in San Diego watching surfers ride the large waves into the golden sands of the shoreline.

Except, oh yeah, I turn my head to the right and to the left and I’m suddenly on a curving bay that is dotted with pine trees instead of palm trees. I spin around and I could swear I’m in Big Sur, California. Except things are green because there’s no multi-year long drought here. The blue above the water is just that: blue. There’s no lingering smog here. There’s no crush of people milling about. The drive here was scenic and free of traffic.

It’s like I’m in California, except I’m actually eons away and in some fluke land where people surf by pine trees and then go get a fish taco for lunch followed by a hike in a rainforest (yes, rain forest…of the temperate kind) and eat s’mores by bonfires. With some native art, fine dining, whales and bears, and awesome donuts thrown in.

(As I’m writing this, I’m wondering if Tofino is actually my favorite place in the world. I’ll tell myself it’s up for discussion and that a return trip is necessary to decide. #takemeback)

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When the last three surfers made their way out of the ocean and were almost to where we were standing, I knew it was time for us to go back as well. I took one last look at the remaining tinge of pink and orange and turned to head back to the room. But in that moment, I knew Tofino, British Columbia, wasn’t going to be a place I’d go to and just forget. It had wedged itself into my travelin’ heart and I already couldn’t wait to go back.



Updated Highway 4 Road Closure Schedule at Kennedy Hill