Tofino. Paradise for Surfer or Paraglider?
On our way to Tofino, a canadian paradise for Surfer, the sun is with us all the way. We have a short break at ‘MacMillan Provincial Park’ to see the huge, old trees.
We spot the market in ‘Qualicum Beach’, a nice little village, and stroll around. Some teenagers play funny but rhythmic music with different drum instruments and dance to their own music. As we come to a coffee booth we stop and get into a conversation with the owner, a very nice lady who can tell us a lot about her coffee.
She also offers us to visit her roast house in Port Alberni. That’s great, we love to do that and schedule this for our way back from Tofino.
After Jan soaped our car very well, we try to find a place to swim in the lake. We drive from one place to the other, around the lake several times but it looks like each cm around the lake is private property. Unfortunately, we decide to quit the swimming and get back to the Highway. As there is a car behind us, I keep to the right to let it pass. The lady in the car stops next to, opens the window and asks if we need help.
“Thanks. We were just looking for a place to swim but did not find any so we like to turn around.” I said.
She confirms that most places are private property and she offers to come with her. She and her husband live directly at the lake and we could swim there if we like.
That’s amazing we say and take the offer with pleasure. 5 minutes later, after a small off-road trail, we reach the house with a private forest around it. Nesta introduces her husband Bob and the cute dog Rosco who were sunbathing on the small pier.
As we jump in the crystal clear lake, Nesta serves bear and chips. The water is nice and warm with 22°C. Bob likes to take us on a boat tour and gets fuel for the boat very quick while we get ready for the jaunt.
As we like this place, we ask Nesta and Bob if we could stay over night in their driveway. And sure, we are more than welcome to stay. They also invite us to dinner. Somehow we feel a bit cheeky because we somehow ‘invited’ ourself but we also take this offer with pleasure.
After breakfast the other day we head to Tofino and pass a big sign “Zipline open”.
“What is that? Maybe some kind of ropeway. Let’s see what it is!” says Jan and turns into the street.
Jan is correct. The Zipline is a ropeway where you will zip over a beautiful river canyon – in heady heights. Underneath you can only see the freezing, turquoise water. We both agree, that this would be fun but unfortunately 200$ are too much and we drive away a bit sad.
We arrive in Tofino, a very touristic ‘town’. Every second shop sells Souvenirs, is a Hotel, a B&B or a Restaurant. Everything is clean and neat but for our taste too crowded. The beach is lovely – it’s endless long and a very good starting place for paragliding. Normally, wind blows here very strong and invites Surfers but today it’s very calm.
“It’s a perfect day to fly”, says Jan. Consequently, we walk back to the car and get the paragliding equipment ready. Finally, Jan toddles to the beach with the heavy engine on his back and the people wait eagerly for the start.
Because of the paragliding, we are late to find a place for tonight. We can’t find a free place in town without this sign: “No Overnight Parking”
We are frustrated because we already try to find a place since one hour. I also asked the Hotels and Restaurants if it would be possible to park overnight on their parking lot – but this time nobody allows that.
A guy in a motel tells us to leave the town and park on a huge parking lot next to the sea – it’s only 20 minutes driving. We would have a lovely view tomorrow morning, he also mentions.
Yuppie. We are thankful for his hint and leave. The route runs through the pitch-black forest and ends at the parking lot next to the sea – as the guy told us. We are not really sure if overnight parking is allowed here but we stay. We don’t feel like searching for another place at all.
Besides, some other cars park here, too – so we assume it’s OK to stay.
Jan wakes me at night and whispers: “Hey, I think we will get problems now. There are some guys since 20 minutes – maybe Security. They park in front of each car and point their flashlight on it. If they don’t try to wake us we keep quite, okay?” I look out the window sleepy and won’t believe that we might need to get up now – I just wanna sleep!
After a while one of the guys gets closer to our car and I can hear him saying “Panamericana. Looks like they are part of a travel group.”
but we can’t hear the ongoing dialogue with the other guy. They both get in their car and stop in front of the next car.
“Uff. What was that? We were very lucky! We can go back to sleep!” I say, turn around and fall asleep.
We get awakened the next morning at 6.30. The Parking Lot seems to be a meeting point for the fishermen. One car after the other arrives. The men slam the doors energetic and welcome each other noisy.
Actually we are awake now but we snuggle down in our sleeping backs and fall asleep again. Alas!!
At 8 o’clock we get awakened again. This time it’t not the fishermen but a Security Guy from the National Parks. He asks us friendly to step down, wants to see our passports and explains us, that camping in a National Park is only allowed in designated areas. We apologize and tell him that we didn’t even know that we are in the ‘Pacific Rim National Park’. He is still nice and instead of a fine he only gives us a warning and tells us formally that this shouldn’t ever happen again. He notes our names and numberplate and leaves.
After this incident we are really awake, pack everything, fold the tent and drive back into town to walk a small trail through the forest and to the beach.
After our walk we take a chance and order a Cappuccino in a little, brand new Café. Until now, we didn’t have a good experience with a nice Cappuccino but we give ‘Tofino Coffee’ a chance. We are excited. The Espresso and also the Cappuccino are perfect. This Café is our recommendation for every Tofino Tourist. We also get to know our new favourite drink – but we will not tell what it is for now 😉
As we don’t want to spent another night looking for a place to stay overnight, we already organized a place at midday. A Shop that offers whale watching allows us to park on their parking lot for 7,90$.
As we know that we have a safe ‘Campground’ tonight, we enjoy a small BBQ on the beach.