I stare out at the waves breaking on this vast beach. The view (like Tofino’s weather) changes every few minutes as the tide moves closer to our beachfront chalet, and then as it moves out again leaving driftwood, mussel shells, kelp, and other treasures behind on the soft sand. The chef at the onsite Surfside Grill tells me he often looks out the window of his trailer kitchen and sees whales swimming by. This is Pacific Sands Beach Resort, in the British Columbia surf town of Tofino.
Pacific Sands is a beach hotel ideal for surfers and anyone who wants to be close to Tofino’s magnificent waves. There are a variety of accommodation options, and they all offer conveniences like places to hose the saltwater off your board and wetsuit — even your dog. And, of course, there are places to store your gear too. I’m visiting in April, and see many braver souls than I decked out in wetsuits enjoying the waves as they roll in across the Pacific, unimpeded more than 6000 km from southern Russia and Japan. I’m happier to walk the beach (Pacific Sands provides rain gear, just in case) as well as admire the ocean view from the hot tub in the bedroom.
Our stay is in one of Pacific Sands’ large and luxurious beach houses. They’re two-storey, with two bedrooms (both with ensuites) upstairs and, downstairs, a fully-equipped kitchen, small bathroom, dining room, and fire-placed living room. Both floors have a balcony with views of the ocean. The double soaker tub is in the master bedroom, and it’s raised so you can be sure to see the waves. Tofino is favoured not only by surfers but by storm watchers, and Pacific Sands is the perfect spot to feel cozy and warm while you watch the drama unfold outside. We leave the balcony door open all night and are soothed by the sounds of the waves.
Other room options are the surf-in-surf-out oceanside suites (up to three bedrooms), the one-bedroom lighthouse suites, lodge suites (studios, and one- and two-bedrooms), plus studio and two-bedroom signature suites. A favourite of some of Canada’s surf-loving celebrities is the private three-bedroom Sunset House at Rosie Bay. Whichever you choose, you’ll have the conveniences of a condo-type stay, rather than a more basic hotel room. Bringing a dog? Just let Pacific Sands know and they’ll set you up with doggie amenities too.
In addition to the delicious Surfside Grill, offering local foods like fish tacos and fish and chips (including several gluten-free options), also onsite are a surf school, bikes to rent, a complimentary seaside yoga class, plus several hammocks, picnic tables and a firepit. Pacific Sands’ lobby has a selection of gourmet groceries, plus complimentary coffee and hot chocolate, and, to borrow, DVDs, beach toys and board games. Be sure to stroll the boardwalk out to the point for spectacular views of waves crashing into the rocks.
You can get to Pacific Sands and Tofino via BC Ferries. Depart from Horseshoe Bay or Tsawwassen in Vancouver for a sail over to Nanaimo, and then drive across Vancouver Island. Tofino is near Clayoquot Sound, at the north end of the Esowista Peninsula, with Ucluelet to the south. Pacific Sands is just north of Pacific Rim National Park and Long Beach, and next door to Chesterman’s Beach. The drive to the town of Tofino takes about five minutes. There you’ll find top restaurants like 1909 Kitchen, shops and galleries, and adventure tours. Try whale or bear watching with Tofino Resort + Marina’s Adventure Centre (TofinoResortAndMarina.com). Or see Tofino from above with Point Break Skydiving (SkyDiveTofino.ca).