Recovery & Tranquility in Tofino

“I know there will only be slim pickings left for this time of year, but let’s just see if anywhere has any dog-friendly rooms left for the days between Christmas and New Year” I said to the hubs, a couple of days before Xmas. I was drained, full of bronchitis, and still feeling rather sad and contemplative at the death of my father the month before. I kept having urges to go and stare at the sea, feel the wind in my face and breathe in the cold, salty air. In other words, Tofino was calling my name, and I wasn’t about to ignore her.

I grew up near the water. My childhood home was just outside of the naval town of Portsmouth, England, which is also where Dad died. He loved the sea.

So, I phoned around, thinking we’d probably end up in a motel, roadside dive, or somewhere far away from the beach. Little did I know that we’d be lucky enough to end up with reservations for the best digs in the area: The heavenly Wickaninnish Inn!


The Wickaninnish Inn, on Chesterman Beach, Tofino

I’d wanted to go there for years, but was never able to find the right time of year when the stars aligned and I had time off at the same time as the hotel having dog-friendly rooms available. We were determined to take the dogs with us, as we’d had to leave them in kennels while we’d been back in the UK for 5 weeks — We didn’t want to leave them again. The Wick’ had one dog-friendly room left from the 26th – 29th December, which were exactly the days we wanted to go. It must have been fate.

Our journey there on Boxing Day was fairly treacherous. Even with AWD and snow and mountain tyres, we had a slide in the snow on the icy roads going through Sutton Pass. The hubs controlled it well and I’m happy to report that we did NOT end up in a ditch. The drive took 5.5 hours, which is still pretty good going for the conditions. We snacked on leftover homemade Beef Wellington on the journey and sipped on coffee from the hubs’s giant Stanley-brand thermos (as a side note: this coffee was still hot 2 days later!! I’d highly recommend this thermos for the man in your life!). Still, I’d recommend using full snow tyres and carrying chains, blankets, and emergency supplies with you if you are Tofino-bound this winter.

On arrival, we were welcomed into the hotel like long-awaited house guests, feeling like royalty as we settled into our room overlooking the ocean. The staff went out of their way to also welcome the dogs, who were both treated to cookies and nice comfy beds. It was black, windy and stormy on our first night; we couldn’t see just how breath-takingly beautiful the view from the huge picture window was until we awoke from a great night’s sleep the next morning:

Wickaninnish Inn - View of Chesterman Beach

View of Chesterman Beach from our room at the Wickaninnish Inn

We spent a large amount of time staring at this view over the next 3 days. Sometimes with a glass of wine, sometimes with a cup of tea and a croissant. Occasionally I tried to read a book, sat in a chair by the window, but ultimately my eyes kept getting drawn back to the ever-changing picture of tranquility just next to me. Bald headed eagles soared above us, occasionally breaking up the greys and whites of the clouds. Surfers danced on the waves in the distance.


Chesterman beach is a haven for beginner and experienced surfers alike

In between these open-mouthed staring sessions, we of course took long walks along Chesterman Beach, reaching as far as Frank Island when the tide was out. The dogs thought they’d landed in heaven, and were completely tuckered out each afternoon after our 3-hour morning walks.


Rex and Tilly in action


Rex on the beach


Frank Island, only accessible at low tide


Tilly is free like the wind!


How rude!

The sunsets in Tofino, for me, always seem like they last 3 times longer than anywhere else on Vancouver Island. Is it because the light reflects so luminescently from the glistening beaches? Is it due to the fact that the Pacific ocean stretches as far as the eye can see, making the world seem flat and infinite? Regardless, I revelled in them each evening, taking hundreds, if not thousands, of photos. Shimmering silhouettes of black and orange, now enduring in my mind. Dad’s spirit can definitely be found here, I know it; I think he was delighting in the fresh air, watching the waves with me.


A Tofino sunset


My loves at dusk


Me and the hobbits, Chesterman beach

With a relaxed body, a warmed heart, and a restored mind, I left Tofino after 3 days. I left my anger there along with a good deal of my sorrow. On the way home, the snow had cleared over Sutton pass; we were treated to yet more beautiful scenery and a winter wonderland that was hidden in the dark to us on the journey there.


Wintery wonderland of Sutton pass in the snow

We’re already booked up again for our next Tofino adventure. Next time we’ll be renting a 2-bedroom cottage at the Pacific Sands Resort… We went for a 2-bedroom as we’ll have an extra guest with us this time — My mother is coming to visit! Very excited to show her the sites. I want her to relax as much as possible and feel as serene as I did on this trip. I have a feeling that it won’t be too difficult.

Tofino – Yet again, you stole my heart…



About smokedpaprika

Writing, traveling, science-ing, eating, drinking great wine, photographing my adorable dogs, exploring Vancouver Island, and napping my way through life.
This entry was posted in dog's life, hobbies, lifestyle, photography, travel and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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