Tofino itself is not just a destination or end point of a journey. For me, it has also always been a place of departure and beginning; a place where adventure beckons from the ocean, mountains, forests and beaches. From the moment I moved to the Island and first experienced life on the true west coast of Canada, I knew I would be coming back.
It started as a whale-watching trip during the Pacific Rim Whale Festival. The 8-year-old version of me, fresh out of the prairies of Saskatchewan, was absolutely humbled and baffled by the sheer size of the barnacled backs and tails that broke through the water’s surface next to our too-small zodiac that coasted the swells.
After my best friends’ and I’s first summer camp that involved surf lessons, Tofino became something we begged our parents for; to put up with us for a weekend, surfboards strapped to the van, so our summers could be filled with camping trips and surfing adventures. That was before we were old enough to drive. After that, we stopped asking their permission and started driving ourselves across the island in the cars that we would sleep in. Surfing was far from the only adventure that called my name, begging to begin in Tofino. In high school it kicked off one of the most incredible kayaking trips I’ve done – a paddle to Vargas Island that began right there in the Tofino harbor. It also lead me to hikes in the surrounding mountains and in search of locals-only sunset spots to split a growler of Tofino Beer Co. amongst friends.
Suddenly, Tofino wasn’t just a place with a scenic drive through mountains and lakes to traverse in the summer: the incredible sandy beaches of Wickaninnish and Chesterman were shortened into their local nicknames, and every stretch of sand became a place to explore in the fog and the rain of winter, or to watch the storms of the fall. Donning flannels and toques, we never failed to stumble upon a bonfire to join, with strangers who were friends we just hadn’t met yet. We always got to know them pretty quickly because chances are, we’d end up skinny-dipping with them later in the Pacific Ocean. Some lucky summers our nighttime adventures would be lit up by the glow of phosphorescence in the waves or sand, adding a dash otherworldly elegance to the night.
At one point, Tofino even became home, a promise I’d made myself one summer while floating on my board on a flat day watching the sunset. No matter how many times I leave – across the country or just on an adventure from town – Tofino seems to always call me back. There’s something addicting about the salt in the air, the refuge of the forest and the laid-back atmosphere of the community built within the fog of that wild and rugged coast. There’s always something more than just the town waiting at the end of the winding, Pacific Rim Highway, and I have this feeling I will never stop chasing it.
Contributed by: Laurissa Cebryk