Tofino’s Foodie Culture and Natural Beauty

For such a small community (the population is around 2,000), Tofino, on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, is something of a culinary mecca, with many chefs living here to take advantage of the lower-key lifestyle. During our extended weekend visit, we are treated to Redcan Gourmet, a professional open-concept kitchen featuring take-out menus, headed up by chef Tim May (services include in-suite meal delivery to Pacific Sands Beach Resort – more on that, below), dine at the Spotted Bear Bistro, where chef Vincent Fraissange is known for using local quality products to craft his upscale comfort food; enjoy organic cuisine prepared by Top Chef Canada contender Joel Aubie at Shelter Restaurant; and are spoiled with a barbecued spotted prawn and salmon feast by Wildside Grill, run by commercial fisherman Jeff Mikus and professional chef Jesse Blake.

The area boasts incredible seafood, and Tim May starts our post-surf meal in the villa at Pacific Sands with a local seafood platter of Dungeness Crab, smoked salmon, spot prawns, mussels and clams. It seems a fitting repast for a day spent enjoying the ocean.

The comforts of Pacific Sands make it a tempting place to hibernate, but there’s so much to see in the area that the group happily troops out each day to explore. Hoping to spot some of the local wildlife, we cruise out of Jamie’s Whaling Station in Tofino Harbour for the Hot Spring’s Cove Sea to Sky Tour. Only accessible by boat or plane, Hot Springs Cove lies up the coast from Tofino at Maquinna Provincial Park. For thousands of years, natural thermal hot springs have poured out of the rocks and spilled out on the edge of the Pacific Ocean in Northern Clayoquot Sound. On the boat ride in, we see colonies of sea lions, bobbing sea otters, seals and a majestic grey whale. Once at the dock in Maquinna Park, a 30-minute walk on the wooden boardwalk takes us to the rocky canyon where we soak in the soothing mineral-infused waters of the hot spring.

The “sky” portion of the tour means one of Tofino Air’s de Havilland Beaver DHC-2  float planes is waiting to pick us up back at the dock. As we soar over Clayoquot Sound, I’m focused on finding the grey whale, peering at every shadow under the water, but have to be contented with the painterly appeal of the coastline. Or, take a scenic helicopter tour with Atleo Air, who specialize in fly­‐in fishing, whale watching, bear watching, beach drop offs and surfing.