The Road to Tofino

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Where I stayed
Surf Junction, and MacKenzie Beach

Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Friday, April 23, 2010

One of the best things about coming to Tofino is the road getting here. After leaving Nanaimo we soon turned West on highway # 4 heading towards Port Alberni. This town of some 30,000 lies deep in the heart of Vancouver Island at the end of a fiord coming in out of Barkley sound so far in that it almost cuts the island in half. From here on the road becomes increasingly narrower and twists and turns so much that one can rarely drive more than 40 K an hour. The scenery is spectacular as we hugged high rock walls on the one side with deep drop offs on the other, often with no shoulder along the road. About half way along we arrived at the Cathedral Forest in MacMillan Park. Here we took a break to walk down the pathways amongst some of the largest and oldest trees in Canada. Some that were more than 800 years old towered 80 metre or almost 250 feet above our heads. This was indeed a very enchanted place. At any moment I expected to see old TreeBeard and the elves of Fangorn forest  making their appearance. We eventually moved on and in due course of time we arrived at the end of the road at the junction between Ucluelet and Tofino. Here we stayed at a lovely RV Park called Surf Junction before moving on. The drive North from here to Tofino took us through Pacific Rim National Park. This park stretches some 25 Kilometres along the West shore the island. It has magnificent long log strewn beaches with huge waves sometimes 5 metres in height.  Tofino is a small town of about 2000 year round residents at the end of this drive. It has a working fishing industry but the main industry here is tourism. This is the surfing capital of Canada. It is also fast becoming one of the premier surfing destinations in the world! The water temperature here hovers around 42 -44 deg F about  6 deg C all year round. The best time for surfing the best waves is in December and January. The town is full of young people between the ages of 20 and 30 carrying backpacks and wearing wool toques looking like they are on a mission. Indeed we are camped out on MacKenzie Beach just outside of town these last few days, and though it's been raining most of the time and the air temperature never got above 48 F / 8 C, the water is full of surfers in wet suits trying to catch those waves. You can pick them out in the bars at night cause they are the ones with the rosy red faces. At night they are camped out all over the park here under a tarp city of blue and orange trying to keep dry from the constant rain. One can see them all visiting each other around their fires. Kind of a cozy fraternity.  Many of these folks are now married and are bringing their toddlers already. Today I saw a family with two pre school kids in tiny wet suits playing in the surf! It is wild magnificent country out here, were the rules seem to be relaxed a bit and people seem to be a bit more free spirited.
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Amy on

I would love to go back. It is absolutely pristine at Cathedral Grove... except the highway that runs right through it.
This part of the trip is bringing back a lot of memories.

P&M on

Hey, thanks for this update on your travels. Years ago May and I had to be in Port Alberni and drove through that mighty forest. It was awesome. Good thing you're not made of salt with all that rain! P&M

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