Ever since Natasha was a child she took trips to Tofino, Canada. Her family would make the drive from Montana most summers. Fast-forward almost 30 years we’ve made it a tradition of ours to visit as often as possible. The drive itself is all the way up the I-5, as far as it goes. We typically set off after work, and drive up to the California/Oregon border on our first night. The second day we drive to Seattle, WA. Usually stopping somewhere around Eugene, OR for lunch. ON the last day of travel, we keep driving up through Vancouver. Where eventually, we’ll board a ferry to Nanaimo, British Columbia. Once we arrive in Nanaimo we take the windiest but most picturesque drive you’ll ever take, across Vancouver Island, to Tofino.
Together we’ve made the trip quite a few times now, mostly in the summer and one time at Christmas. That was an experience. As, that far north and that time of the year, there are very few daylight hours but plenty of rain. This trip was during the summer, our favourite time to visit. We went with our friends from Montana. Natasha’s childhood friends, Kirsten, Ian, and Anna. I documented the trip using my Minolta SR-T 101, shooting Lomography 800 colour film, which is probably my favourite colour film. Mostly for its beautiful colours, faster film speed, and affordability.
At specific times of the day, usually, earlier in the morning or later in the evening, it is possible to take low-tide walks around the coast between multiple beaches. We usually start at Chesterman Beach and head south past Frank Island. Each time, you’re guaranteed to spot bright orange starfish, light green anemones, and plenty of curious dogs.
One of my favourite hikes in Tofino is a hike to a crashed plane. The Canso plane crash hike is the perfect hike for anyone who sees themself as somewhat of an adventurer. You start by trekking along a 2-lane highway, counting lamp posts like they are steps on a treasure map. Taking a sharp right into the rainforest leads you on a trail past abandoned buildings covered in graffiti. Through swamps that will turn your white poodle into a muddy beast, over fallen tree ‘bridges,’ all the way to the ultimate payoff—the crashed Royal Canadian Air Force Canso 11007.
The Canso crashed into a hill shortly after takeoff February 1945, where it has been ever since. It is still fairly intact despite the decades of climbing and graffiti. Nearby you can find “ponds” which are actually craters where the explosives, it was carrying, were manually detonated. You can learn more about the plane and crash here.
Another favourite hike of ours, near Tofino, is the Radar Hill to Beach hike. Just like the Canso plane crash hike, you’ll feel like Indiana Jones running through the jungle. This hike is less swampy but has more near-vertical climbs. Vertical climbs where tree roots, hundreds of years old, act like ladders. This hike weaves through the rainforest edging closer and closer to the ocean. You cross multiple beaches before ending at your destination a hidden beach that is nearly always empty.
An interesting thing about this beach is that because of its remote location you find a lot of beached items. These can range from brightly coloured buoys that became detached from their boats, some time ago, to packaging covered in Japanese writing, and beer cans which appear to be from the 60s stuck in limbo ever since.
The Tofino town is a lovely little fishing village that over the years seems to have expanded to include more surf shops and restaurants. One of my favourite things about the town is that it sits right on the water. You can walk down by the harbour and watch seaplanes taking off and landing regularly, throughout the day. Another bonus is the number of England-inspired tasty treats available, that you just don’t find in the U.S. These range from delicious ciders to sausage rolls and pakoras.