Tofino has it all: endless glistening beaches, great surf, pristine old growth forests, and tons of marine life in clayoquot sound. Not to mention the great food, brewery and coffee shops! So how can you make a visit to one of the most beautiful places on Vancouver Island even awesomer?
We stopped at Cathedral Grove on our way from Victoria and enjoyed a nice stop to stretch our legs while we took in the incredible scenery of old redwood cedar trees. These trees are so humbling and make everything feel small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. The only thing that could have made this experience better would have been dry feet! My moccasins didn’t fare so well in the west coast muck. On the beach in Tofino I opted to wear my hiking boots most of the time, which were super comfy, great for climbing rocks and driftwood with Arjuna, and kept my feet nice and dry. But tying and untying the laces and pulling them on and off going in and out of the Earthroamer camper all the time, especially with Lux strapped to my chest in the baby carrier, was less than convenient. If I had packed rubber boots, I would have slipped them on every day for every activity we did the entire time we were up island just like our five-year-old son, Arjuna.
Firewood and vegan marshmallows
We read online that it’s nearly impossible to free camp in Tofino. After driving around for quite some time, we realized that it was true: all of Tofino and the surrounding beaches seem to be thoroughly marked with ominous “no overnight parking” signs. And since parking beneath one of these signs, even in the off season and even with other surf vans that were clearly boon docking it, seemed to be poor form for the Nomad Yogis, we opted for a camp ground instead. And the spot we got right on the beach at Bella Pacifica was worth every penny we spent! We got to go to sleep and wake up to the sound of crashing waves, watch Arjuna roam the beach as we prepared meals at our camp, and of course have beach fires. The only thing we’d change? Stock up on firewood from town, as the bundle we bought at the campground was a bit damp (not to mention small!). Oh yeah, and buy marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers from one of the many organic markets in Victoria to enjoy s’mores with Arjuna with a clear conscience!
Something for motion sickness (perhaps ginger or peppermint?)
We took the recommendation of several friends and took the boat trip from Jamie’s Whaling Station in Tofino to Hot Springs Cove. It’s well worth the price, they said, and the boat ride to the hot springs is the best part! Well… the skipper of the boat was entertaining and knowledgeable, and we did see some marine life, including sea otters, sea lions, and grey whales, and lots of beautiful west coast scenery. But to call the conditions of the 90 minute boat trip to the cove choppy would be an understatement – once on the outer coast the swells were 3 meters high at their smallest! Initially, we were worried that Arjuna would start to feel sea sick, but it turned out to be us parents who felt a bit queasy. (At least Josh and I didn’t vomit out the window like the German tourist behind us!) Once we docked at the island, it took me the first half of the 2 kilometer hike to Hot Springs Cove just to regain my equilibrium. But the brief feeling of motion sickness was totally worth it – the hot springs were like nothing else I had ever experienced. They were completely natural – nothing but small pools steaming within rock crevices overlooking the ocean. The hot water flowed down in waterfalls at 50 degrees Celsius and gradually mixed with salt water from the ocean in the lower pools. It was a bit too warm for 4-month-old Lux, but she enjoyed having the mineral-rich water splashed on her legs, while Arjuna thought he was quite an adventurer exploring the pools and climbing on the rocks all the way to the beach below. Thankfully we only needed the natural motion sickness remedy for the boat ride to the island. The way back was so smooth that after the hike and soak, we felt like we could have fallen asleep, and Arjuna did.