Surf's Up - Tofino - A Teen's View

Tofino is known as the mecca of surfing and big waves in Canada.  Unfortunately it's not Hawaii, so you have to put up with freezing cold water.  No worries, the local surf stores will be more than happy to rent you one of their wetsuits (for a price).  If you've never been to Tofino, prepare yourself for a one-and-a-half hour ferry ride (unless you're lucky enough to live on Vancouver Island).  From Nanaimo you're looking at another two hour drive.  If you're into scenery; happy days are here again.  Make sure you're packing a camera.  You'll know you've arrived in Tofino when you pull into a small walk-around-the-block town with fresh air and fog.  A side note about the fog.  We visited Tofino for a day in August.  We couldn't believe how cold it was (13 degrees celsius, instead of the 25 degrees we left behind in Parksville), all because of the fog.

Speaking of visiting Tofino in the summer, you don't need to go when the temperatures sky rocket to 20 degrees celsius.   Be like us and go during March break; then you'll be right in the midst of storm-watching season.  What an experience that was.  Imagine tsunami-sized waves (slight exaggeration) crashing along the shoreline with winds so strong you can hardly walk against them.  

When we went to Tofino I was amazed at how into surfing the whole town is.  When you walk into the surf shops that's all you will hear about-where to catch the best waves.  Let me tell you, I am not much of a surfer.  All I learned was in Hawaii, and that was on small rolling waves.  When I looked out at the waves in Tofino I decided to keep the surfboard out of sight and got out the boogie board instead.  These you can also rent with surfboards and skim boards at the local surf shops.  I hopped into my wetsuit, which was a challenge with my amazing form..  I wish someone would invent a wetsuit for people over six feet tall.  Anyways these wetsuits are lifesavers, because the water is actually so cold you could get frostbite.  But with the wetsuit you get your whole body covered, except for your face (otherwise you wouldn't see where you were going).  Did I look funny?  I don't even want to go there.  My only consolation was that my Dad looked worse than I did.

Don't think you have only one beach to pick from in Tofino.  There are several beaches within walking or quick driving distance, which you can go to.  Chesterman beach is where we went, and it was good because there were waves not to small, but not so big that I was gonna get owned.  You can also drive for 20 minutes and hit Long Beach.  Another note about the fog:  there was none at Long Beach.  I figured we'd last about two hours max, but four hours later Dad and I were still in the water.  It's when your wetsuit starts losing heat that it's game over, but chances are you'll tire out before then.

After a day of surfing, you're probably ready for a big meal; I know I am.  If you're looking for burger joints and cheap places to eat, you've come to the wrong place.  Tofino has mostly gourmet-style restaurants with candles and pricey menus.  Coleman had to go without French fries for one night.  One last note:  you should see the incredible sunsets.  They'd rival Hawaii any day.  I had to warn Mom and Dad not to join the couples kissing on the beach when the sun set.  I can't think of anything worse.

by Nathan