A big thank you to the folks at Tourism Tofino for helping make this trip possible by securing us a discounted rate at the Ocean Village Resort and arranging a surfing lesson with Pacific Surf Company. As well as for helping us with plenty of recommendations for great hikes and where to eat some great gluten free food.
When you see or hear the word "Neverland", does a certain image immediately come to mind? Perhaps that image is influenced by the Peter Pan stage play, the 1953 Disney movie, or the colorful 1991 film, Hook. I admit my own version likely draws some influence from the current television show, Once Upon A Time.
However in my mind, that image looks a little less tropical and a bit more wild and rugged. While it's certainly influenced by pop culture, I draw most of the image from the time I've spent on the Northern California coast. I grew up traveling through the Anderson Valley, along the Navarro River through the redwoods, out to the Pacific Coast, and north along Highway 1 to Fort Bragg, California. While staying at my grandparents bluff top home, my imagination blossomed on this wild and rocky coastline. When was old enough to drive I would make the journey solo, to write short stories about children and teens being thrown into grand adventures.
Fast forward to late last fall, when I got the idea in my head to spend my 30th birthday in a little surf town on the coast of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island. Tofino, as it turns out, was the place I’d been dreaming of in my head and referring to as "Neverland". From the most amazing golden hours I’ve ever experienced to trees which look like they hold mysterious secrets (like a long ago crashed bomber), this place is my Neverland turned real. The possibilities for exploration are endless and I can’t wait to return for more adventures.
The Wild Pacific Trail | Just south of Tofino in the town of Ucluelet, there are six different sections totaling eight kilometers trail along the coastline. We walked the Lighthouse Loop and Ancient Cedars Route. My favorite part? The views of endless sea stacks in Barkley Sound with interpretive signage for all the ships wrecked in the rough seas of the area.
Ocean Village on Mackenzie Beach | To be really blunt, I'm not sure I've ever stayed anywhere more dreamy than these simple beach front cabins. My creative instincts were simply bursting at the seams with thoughts for stories, photographs, and films. My favorite part? Making myself a spiced hot chocolate in my cabin and strolling the misty beach in the morning and light painting at night.
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve | It's no secret that I LOVE Canada's National Parks and Pacific Rim is one of the easiest to explore. With eight, short but fascinating trails winding out to the coastline and through the forest - this is where your imagination can really run wild. We walked the boardwalk trail out to Schooner Cove (where I swear a pirate ship was about to turn up around a sea stack) and found our way out to the crash site of an Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Canso Bomber. This last trail is mostly unmarked, quite boggy (I had mud crest over my hiking boots at a couple of points), and easy to get lost on. For those reasons, as well as for historical preservation and respect, I won't provide you with any details on how to reach the site. If you're curious, you can certainly Google your way to some directions - however, please don't consider attempting it unless you are truly prepared for the conditions and have route finding skills. All that said - it was an amazing adventure.
Surfing and Beachcombing in Cox Bay | As I've mentioned, I'm a surfer and couldn't have been more bummed about not being able to surf on Tofino's lovely beaches due to a recent head injury. Instead, Parsley and I beach-combed while Zeke partook in a lesson with Pacific Surf Company.
Golden Hour on the 1st Street Dock | Watch float planes land and small boats ferry people to and from the surrounding islands and areas accessible only by air or sea. Depending on the time of year, I'm told this is an excellent place to watch the sunset. In November, you'll miss the actual sun - but the light reflected over the water won't leave you wanting more.