Traveling to the tiny surf town of Tofino, located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, is not for those predisposed toward instant gratification—but then again, maybe that's the point.
If you're going to make the trek—two hours from SFO to Vancouver International (YVR), a generally smooth-sail through immigration, then another 40-minute hop on one of those sea planes—slowing down is probably foremost on your vacation agenda.
The marina at Tofino Resort + Marina.(Jeremy Koreski)
Good news! Harbour Air just launched a direct seaplane route from Vancouver right to Tofino Resort + Marina, which means that if you book accommodation there—and you should—no multi-stop, relaxation-delaying hotel shuttles are necessary. Just roll your suitcase right to your room. It's been just a few months since Tofino Resort + Marina unveiled its renovation, decades in the making. Once a seedy, rundown motel, its new lease on life includes 62 modern guest rooms that feature oversize balconies (from which you can enjoy, from the comfort of your bathrobe, the stunning location—a dramatic intersection of mountain and ocean), big-fat beds (all the better to fall into a deep sleep, lulled by the lap of the water), and photo murals of the area's rugged terrain by Jeremy Koreski (consider them a preview of your future exploits in nature).
Taking a break from the break.(Noel Hendrickson)
Just because you've come to Tofino to press pause on the rat race waiting for you at home doesn't mean that your sense of adventure takes a hiatus. Ease into the wild surroundings by taking a meditative hike on the Tonquin Trail, which starts at the community center and meanders three kilometers on well-maintained gravel paths through a coastal rainforest of Douglas fir and cedar. From the boardwalk overlooks, you may spot orcas or grey whales, so be sure to bring some binocs in your day pack. If you see a bear on the trail, you can assume it wants nothing to do with you, unless, of course, you happen to be holding a jar of honey. Though your fight-or-flight instinct may be triggered, try your best to MYOB. // The next level of difficulty on the Tofino activity tier is a wildlife boat cruise that can be booked at TR+M's Adventure Centre. "Cruise" may be a bit of a misnomer in this case—in order to catch whale breeches in action, or spot elusive sea wolves on the shore, your boat captain will likely punch the throttle over the chop or make sharp turns with no warning—core strength is key if your death grip lacks conviction. // Lastly, when in a far-northern surf town, braving the break is practically a requirement. The pros at Pacific Surf Co. will take you to the gentle waves of Cox Bay for your lesson, which includes an hour of paddling and pop-up practice on the beach before 90 minutes of riding foamies in the ocean. Don't worry, your thick 5/3 wetsuit will take the edge off the icy waters.
Fancy a city a stay? Check out our guide to a weekend in Vancouver. Or, for more on Vancouver's Pacific Rim National Park, including where to eat and drink in Tofino and its neighboring Eucluelet (otherwise known as Ukee), click here.