Because we left one day early, we made it to Tofino. Like the rest of the United States, we had a difficult-weather December that impacted the holidays. The hill Ruth & I live on in Camas was completely iced in by late afternoon on Christmas Day, spoiling much planning. Luckily, we left the area that afternoon and made it to the Port Angeles ferry to Vancouver Island on schedule. Despite sleet and ice at Sutton Pass, we made it to Tofino before dark. Was it worth it? Yes.
Tofino is one of our favorite destinations. Many people go there in the summer to salmon fish, but we’ve only been there in December because Ruth’s birthday is on the 28th. Oddly, this is a popular time to be in this wild town 0f 2,000 souls on Clayoquot Sound. The weather is fairly mild, even in late December, because it’s in a temperate forest and marine environment. It rains and fogs a lot but seldom, if ever, snows. Don’t go there in January because resorts and inns close and most workers desert the place for warmer climates and home visits. We tried to find a mechanic on December 28, and there were none in the area. Three of the few standard attractions in Tofino that development has spawned are a year-round botanical garden, an aquarium, and a golf course. There are far more surf shops and surfing schools in Tofino than playgrounds.
The many visitors around were mostly water-proof adventurers there to hike, surf, storm-watch, and welcome in the new year. There are many family-friendly trails in this Pacific Rim National Park Reserve with names like Schooner Cove. Many trails are gentle, short, and end on beaches. The most popular one is 10-mile-long Long Beach, which attracts year-round surfers. Indeed, this stretch of tumultuous ocean and packed sand is one of the prime surfing capitals of the world because during most months huge waves roll in from Japan. This year, however, has seen fewer of them and unexpected and dangerous tidal surges haven’t been a problem either. Storm watching, for now, is down. Bear-watching tours and visits to Hot Spring Cove are up. This time we spent a lot of time on Chesterman Beach, which is closer to town.
Tofino was named in 1792 by explorer Dionisio Galiano, but its first few centuries saw more loggers, miners, and fishermen than tourists. The road we drove to get there, Highway 4, wasn’t a reality until 1959 and remains the only road that crosses Vancouver Island from its busy, temperate east coast to its wild west coast. You don’t have to experience this beautiful but difficult road that takes a minimum 4½ hours to drive from Victoria. A fine airport serves Tofino and Ucluelet, a mostly First Nations town of equal size down the coast on the Pacific Ocean. There are flights to these 2 towns from Vancouver, Victoria, etc., which bring 20,000 travelers to the area each year. Even in winter.