Visit Canadas West Coast in Winter
By Richard Badman
The coastal towns of Tofino and Ucluelet one at either end of the Pacific Rim National Park, are located on the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. These small towns used to rely on the abundance of the forestry and fishing industries, but with these resources dwindling, local businesses have begun to turn to their environment to provide once again. Via planes, boats, bikes and automobiles; tourists travel from all corners of the world to experience the pristine beaches, succulent rainforests and incredibly photogenic scenery.
Unlike most of Canada, the weather here is fairly mild all year. Winter temperatures rarely dip below freezing, but as these towns are both located in temperate rainforest climate be sure to bring your waterproofs. The Pacific Rim is very wet indeed. Layers of warm clothes, boots and hats are imperative for a comfortable visit.
Storm watching has recently become a new tourist phenomeneon. Visitors will stand witness to the fury of the Pacific ocean while epic winter waves rise and fall. You may be standing in the rain, bundled in heavy raingear watching from the beach. Or warm and cozy by a fire, sipping a martini as the waves smash against the rocks below. Several of the upscale lodges and hotels in the area offer both beach access and luxurious ocean view facilities for their visitors.
The variety of beaches along this coast are perfect for walking, hiking and running. Miles and miles of sand, ocean waves, wild shorebirds and mountain views make the Pacific Rim a perfect holiday destination. Wrap up warm and take a walk on the beach, while bald eagles and hunting ospreys soar above. Marvel at the flocks of tiny shorebirds and abundant sea life washed ashore. If you are lucky, you may even catch a rare sight of spray as a grey or humpback whale vents through its blowhole.
Whale watching is one of the most popular activities in the area. The migration of the grey whales are celebrated with the annual Pacific Rim Whale Festival in March, however whales can be seen all year round in these parts. Viewing with binoculars or a scope is good in several areas. Radar Hill and Amphitrite Point Lighthouse are two of the best. Pack a chair, a flask and your strongest binoculars or scope to get really great views of grey, humpback and killer whales, also known as orcas.
Spas, yoga, massage and wellness retreats are part of a healthy holiday regime. Tofino offers world class designer spa treatments, expert beauty services, professional esthetics and holistic and alternative massage programs. Lomi lomi, swedish massage, shiatsu, acupuncture, relaxing therapy, chakra wellness are offered both in the privacy of your own accomodation or in one of the many high class facilities. Tofino based facilities also offer hair salon service, an ocean view steam room, salt water pools and sauna. Private and group hatha, ashtanga and chakra yoga sessions are offered within the community on a daily basis. Keep your eyes on the community boards for special guest yoga instructors often flown in for exclusive workshops.
Hot Springs Cove is a luxury in Tofino that shouldnt be missed. Winter and spring are definitely the best seasons to visit Hot Springs Cove located about an hour north of Tofino by boat or 20 minutes by float plane. A tree canopied boardwalk tour takes you through the mystery of the rainforest from the landing dock to the hot natural pools. Seismic activity heats water bubbling to the surface and over a waterfall high enough to beat down onto a tired neck and shoulders. The hot water flows, decreasing in temperature from pool to pool before finally flowing into the ocean. The most bottom pool tickles the senses as hot water flows in and meets the cold ocean water as you sit within the tidal pull. Soak in the peace and quiet and let the stresses of everyday life melt away.
Tofino and Ucluelet have some world class reasturants. What better way to cap a day exploring the natural wonders than with a delicious meal? Fresh wild and local seafood are the highlights of the Pacific Rim. Salmon, halibut and dungeness crab are the signature dishes of the area. For landlubbers there is also a great assortment of local lamb, duck and triple A tenderloins as well. All meals can be paired with local Vancouver Island wineries or microbrewed beers. How's that for taste!
If you're coming for a weekend or a week, a visit to the Pacific Rim National Park, Clayoquot Sound, Tofino or Ucluelet will be sure to rejuvenate you. Once found, this paradise is one you'll be sure to visit again and again.
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