Best of Canada: Tofino, B.C.
Country strong: from ocean-soaked days to starry, starry nights, here, just a few of our favourite things about the great white and sunny north.
TOFINO, BRITISH COLUMBIA
As I approach the wind-whipped waters of the North Pacific, my heart beats in sync with each footfall, an echoing thud that reverberates through my entire body. The end of my surfboard drags on the sand behind me, testimony to my beginner’s awkwardness – and hesitation.
I’ve spent the last hour of this autumn morning on Chesterman Beach near Tofino, B.C., practising pop-ups on an imaginary surfboard drawn in the sand. (Let’s just say that due to my lack of artistic skill, I was sand-surfing on a giant misshapen pickle.) Krissy Montgomery, owner of Tofino’s Surf Sister, has walked our group through the basics of position, paddling, getting up on the board, surf etiquette and how to cover our heads for when we (inevitably) fall. She’s now waiting in waist-deep water to help me catch my first wave.
Though exhausted and a little sore, I’m still riding that high that afternoon, as I soak in the hot tub on the deck of one of the many private beach houses at Pacific Sands Beach Resort. Seven kilometres from the village of Tofino, Pacific Sands sits on the rugged undeveloped coastline along the crescent beachfront of Cox Bay, offering a front-row seat to nature’s dramatic storms. Luxuriating in the soothing water, I watch advanced surfers tackling the immense swells rolling in. The beach houses also provide the ideal vantage point to watch the sun set over the ocean, between towering conifers, a wild, untamed vista that I’ve come to associate with the West Coast.
There is another deck off the bedroom of my beach house, and every night I leave the door ajar so I can be lulled to sleep by the rhythmic break of the water against the shore. I wake to pale light filtering through the towering cedars and let myself languish, soothed into the pace of life in this coastal town. But hunger motivates me to get moving and I embrace the local foodie culture. Many chefs, drawn by the lifestyle, have settled here, and all bring into play the bounty the nearby waters provide: fresh spot prawns, Dungeness crab, fresh oysters, and wild-caught Pacific salmon. Each meal feels like a culinary celebration of the ocean.