I’ll admit, it’s not the warmest corner of the world. But who doesn’t love a place where it’s perfectly acceptable to sport hoodies, yoga pants and tuques in any venue, at any time of day? I don’t think I have spent more than an hour without my blanket scarf since I arrived.
James speaks very highly of this place. One evening sitting around with the kids, dreaming holiday dreams and planning our next adventure, we took turns going around sharing the place we’d most like to visit in the entire world if we only had one trip left. James answered: Long Beach, Tofino. I was floored I hadn’t heard this before, and that we hadn’t yet visited here. So when the opportunity arose to attend a yoga and surf retreat here this past September long weekend, hosted by one of our all-time favorite yoga teachers, we signed up without a second thought.
Now that I’ve spent a few days here, playing like the locals play, my hair, sandy and salty from the waves, hidden and kept warm by a yellow and brown overpriced surfer brand tuque, with local hand made jewelry affixed to my fingers and ears, I have a few thoughts, tips, opinions and perspectives of my own to share. If you will.
Getting here IS A TREK…
But, if you can manage to take the day off, and therefore avoid spending the drive buckled into the passenger seat staring down at your Smartphone, cursing the service that cuts in and out, repeatedly, taunting you… one bar, five bars, one bar, five bars, one bar! If you can manage to not do that, and look up, you’ll find special little turnoffs you need to take along the way. In my case, my frustration with aforementioned service bars caused me to jut my head up just in time to catch a glimpse of a bright green road sign with white text that read “Qualicum Beach”. My heart sank 45 feet below me. That was where my grandparents lived, when they were last alive. Back in 1995. Before the terrible accident that found them in a deadly collision with a Greyhound Bus all thanks to a patch of evil black ice. They lived here. There. We turned off and I frantically dialed my Mom to get the address to their house. It was long enough ago I wasn’t sure what I remembered, but as we pulled into their street, I knew it when I saw it. I once again, saw the train tracks where Grandpa walked us to, to leave pennies to be flattened by the weight of the train — a memorable and wildly economical souvenir for us to take home. I saw the backyard, with the wooden pergola where Dad and I had posed for a photo when I was maybe… seven years old. Me sporting an ultra stylish tank top that ironically enough read “Vancouver” across it. I remembered them. Grandpa with his casette tapes of Nat King Cole. Grandma sitting on the edge of the bed on that puffy gold blanket, with the ugly stuffed white cat on it. (Not as creepy as I make it sound, but still, sort of creepy. And also incredibly special all in the same.)
I have officially ventured onto a nearly unsalvageable tangent, but let me try to return to my original thought there. The drive, is long. Or journey, I should say. It involves a drive from Vancouver to the ferry terminal. A wait a the ferry. A ferry ride, nearing two hours long. (And they did NOT have wifi, so I couldn’t get that pesky work finished as I’d planned to.) And then, a three hour drive. But again, take the day off ahead of time and look up. And it’s not that bad.
It’s NOT warm here…
I know I touched on this at the beginning, but this was really eye-opening for me. And the realization that at no time of year are you guaranteed beautiful summer weather. The sun might shine, and when it does you will turn your face to it and your freckles will brown and your heart will smile, but the next day it will be overcast and grey and you will be shivering in your boots. Or Birkenstock sandals. This is the place where can get away with rocking those super sexy yet seemingly illogical outfits that models wear… like cut off shorts with sweatshirts and tuques, or tank tops with yoga pants and leg warmers. Don’t you find yourself wondering, if it’s warm enough to wear shorts, why are you wearing a hoodie? Where are these people going in these outfits? I’ll tell you–Tofino. It’s not freezing out, but not hot. And style is hippie-licious… anything goes.
The place FORCES you to slow down…
It’s in the air. I swear, even if you came here for a business retreat, to work day and night, secluded with your team, banging through endless to do lists to complete a critical project, you’d still probably go home feeling a little more relaxed. Everyone here moves slowly. The cars. The people. The cashiers. The waves. The wafts of coffee or salty ocean that dazzle your senses. It’s a place that’s built to move slow through. And that’s probably part of it’s charm. It was for us, for sure.
It’s like a very CANADIAN beach vacation…
You still get the beach, without having to venture a four hour flight down south to a sunnier country. No, it’s not going to be the same experience as down there. There are no beach side margarita bars or donkeys or beach hagglers selling knock off sunglasses and woven baskets. But it’s the beach. And beaches have this way of making us feel everything and nothing, all at the same time. Like the centre of the universe, with everything spinning and rolling in around us. But tiny and insignificant next to the big sky and big bowl of earth water in front of us. They’re magical. Everyone knows it. And this beach is no different. Except it’s colder. And that just makes us feel all kind of Canadian, which most of us Canadians kind of like.
This is a fantastic place to surf. And it’s a fantastic place to do yoga. We know–that was our weekend agenda. It’s also a great place to sit back with a glass of wine (or two) in big log cabin-esque buildings and take in the spectacular views mid afternoon. (Not on the agenda! But try Long Beach Resort.) In our humble opinion, Tofino needs more hot tubs, because if there was ever a perfect vibe and perfect weather for a hot tub evening, this would be the spot. But apparently they’re a bit of an environmental disaster, so it doesn’t really fit with the eco-friendly style here. I get it.
A big thank you to Chris Duggan for hosting us out there for such a physically challenging and emotionally nourishing adventure. We fed our strong and in-a-good-way exhausted bodies delicious Tacofino tacos (well worth the 30-minute wait in the rainy lineup) and marvelled at how impressed we felt with ourselves and how GOOD we felt. No better word for it. Just GOOD.