Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tofino Whale Fest

Thar she blows!

I've decided that Tofino, BC is one of my favorite places on this planet. As I've been to everywhere else in the world and have visited Tofino two whole times, this claim has a lot of weight. In all seriousness-- I love the rustic wildness, laid-back atmosphere, and pristine beauty that doesn't compare to anywhere else I've visited. Tofino's gorgeous coast, spectacular rain forest, and varied wild life makes it such a unique and interesting place. 

Pacific coast sunsets

Half of my love for Tofino is just getting there-- immediate road trip! It's reasons like this that I *love* that Jon and I bought a car before moving out here. To be able to get up and go on a six hour trip up island to see one of the most beautiful places on Earth is such a liberating, wonderful feeling. I love the time to have funny, meaningful, and interesting conversations with my travel friends and to enjoy the stunning scenery around us. I often forget how big and beautiful Vancouver Island is, and I'm humbly reminded on road trips like this. I often see the snow-peaked mountains in Washington and on the mainland in BC, but I rarely get to see the snow peaked mountains right here! 

Part of the Vancouver Island Ranges mid-way to Tofino

This trip was no exception in exceeding my expectations. I felt like I was walking into this thinking, "been there, done that." My first trip to Tofino was only about four months ago and I felt like I got a good sense of the place. I had forgotten how simply beautiful it is there and revisiting some of the same beaches with different people gave me completely different perspectives. We went to Chesterman Beach in November where I spent a good time climbing some rocks and taking photos, but I had no idea that during low tide the starfish, anemones, and other sea creatures almost literally covered the rocks there! I was happily surprised to find such new adventures and beautiful things to find, and realized that I've only seen a small portion of what that area has to offer.

A constellation of starfish

Of course the reason we went to Tofino was for the Pacific Rim Whale Festival, which happens every year in March to celebrate the return of the grey whale. The whale, which migrates past Tofino every year with new members in tow, has been traveling up the coast from Mexico. The whales apparently don't eat much during the winter while living the tough life of soaking up sub-equator sun rays. They do eat an obscene amount once they come up here, for the krill and other fish that they eat are super abundant in this area's ocean. Jon and I were the only ones out of our person group to go on a whale watching tour, mostly because I was the only one who had never seen whales before! It was bitterly cold on the ocean and I did get mildly sea sick while waiting for whales, but the new perspective of the island from the water and the majesty of seeing actual whales was soooo worth it. On our tour we also got to see harbor seals, sea lions, sea otters, and a few bald eagles-- over all, and excellent investment!

Whale back! We did see some whale fins, but I was too sea sick to take a photo.

I wish I could bring my east coast visitors to this place when they come to visit, for it really is quite wonderful, but the whole trip would be centered around going there, and the idea of sitting in the car for six hours after someone just got off a plane for six hours seems horribly unappealing. Maybe one day and east coaster will be strong and resilient enough to come enjoy the rustic awesomeness of Tofino-- until then, it shall be enjoyed with our wonderful new west coast friends!

Awkward surfing high-fives!

Hopping over to see some starfish

Wellies schmellies! Who needs 'em when you've got bare feet?

Another (one of so many) great reason to go to Tofino and to drive there is to visit Cathedral Grove on the way back! This grove of trees is full of old growth, with some trees up to 800 years old! It's wonderfully still and quiet here, and an unearthly color green all year round. 

At The Big Tree


  1. Just wonderful! Thanks for sharing about this place through your eyes and words. It helps the people who won't get a chance to see it on their own visualize it vicariously through you!

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Jamie! I was hoping that my readers (whom I'm assuming are mostly east coast friends and family) would be able to picture Tofino well, and I'm glad to hear that it was illustrated clearly : ) Hope all is good in the neighborhood with you, Sean, the little ones, and Colorado!