Posted October 23, 2009 by Kate Hamman
This coastal hippie town on the western tip of Vancouver Island, known as the end of the road for western Canada, barely makes a blip on the travel radar. However, each November, Tofino becomes a prime vacation destination during its storm watching season, as it's rattled, doused, and pounded by heavy rains and crashing waves. People rush to witness the fury of Mother Nature from either the comfort of a cozy lodge or a guided hike along the coastline. If, however, you have a more "sunny" disposition, there are plenty of things to do in milder weather.
Clayoquot Field Station: Let's face it. It's rare to find accommodations these days for less than $40 per night that don't make your skin crawl. Which is why Clayoquot Field Station feels like a miracle. For $32 CAD (about $30 U.S.; see XE.com for current exchange rates) per night, you can stay in a clean and welcoming atmosphere, plus get entrance to the Tofino Botanical Gardens. You can also take rainforest tours or yoga classes during the day. Dormitory rooms may be set up bunk-style, but the place is far from a hostel.
SoBo: With humble beginnings in a purple catering truck, SOBO, which is short for sophisticated bohemian, has traded in its wheels for solid ground. You'll find the roving restaurant parked for good in the Conradi Building downtown, where the chefs have replaced cramped cooking space with a 1,500 square-foot kitchen. Lisa and Artie Aiher are the masterminds behind the menu of inventive dishes, such as the Polenta Fries or the Sushi Rice Tofu Pockets made solely from local and organic products. The Killer Fish Tacos, which feature a flavorful fruit salsa over fresh local fish, are truly to die for, especially at $6 CAD a pop for lunch and $11 CAD for dinner.
Freedom Cove Boat Cruise: This secret garden located in Freedom Cove on Clayoquot Sound, actually floats, and is known to locals as the real Wayne's World. Instead of a party, however, you'll find artists Wayne and Catherine tending to their blossoms and brightly-colored home constructed completely on the water. For $85 CAD, you can hop on a boat and tour this eco-friendly and completely self-sustaining island. The price may seem a bit steep for a tour, but when you include the guided walk of the home and gardens, plus the scenery from the boat cruise, possibly passing whale and bears, oh my, it somehow doesn't feel quite so steep.
To search for flights and compare prices to Nanaimo, which is home to Tofino’s nearest major airport, please use our price-comparison tool.(Photo:Wayne Adams and Barbara Schramm)
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