Looking for a beach holiday – somewhere to surf and stretch out on the sand in Canada? Maybe you thought such a thing didn't exist in this northerly country of ours, but indeed it does. Head to Tofino, British Columbia, and more particularly, to the villas at Pacific Sands Beach Resort (pacificsands.com) for a beach vacation in you own beachfront villa.
Tofino is located on rugged Vancouver Island, and the resort is located outside the town. The scenic drive to Tofino, B.C. from Victoria takes about 5 hours, but allow yourself longer if you want to stop in Coombs at the thronging Coombs Old Country Market on the way for fresh baked treats, gourmet condiments, or cheap-and-cheerful household goodies.
You can also fly into Nanaimo, and from there it's an approximately 2.5 hour journey by car. Pulling up to the Pacific Sands Beach Resort is an amazing experience. Even as you approach the reception lodge in your car, you get your first exciting peek at the Pacific's waves washing ashore.
If you've got kids, or are traveling with other family members, consider renting a beachfront villa. They're proper homes, with a fully stocked kitchen including full dishware, pots, a blender, toaster, microwave, dishwasher and even a washer and dryer – basically, all you need to cook up a feast and get you feeling like you’re at home. And anyone who's traveled with little ones or has extensive food allergies knows how handy it is to have a kitchen with a full fridge on hand. Plus, there's a free high-speed internet connection, and television with lots of channels, and a DVD player – it really is just like home.
The three-bedroom villas accommodate up to eight people, which could be fun for a mini family reunion. The two-bedroom villas are perfect for families with kids or travelling with another couple (though be warned, you'll have to flip coins or devise some other way to decide who gets to stay in the master bedroom and enjoy the king-size bed and huge soaker tub).
Page 1 of 2 -- On page 2, find out some of the best ways to spend your days while in Tofino.
Now, an honest word about the climate in Tofino. If you're expecting a scorching hot, 33-degrees, lie-on-the-beach-and-bake experience, you won't get it here. It's a moderate Pacific Northwest climate, which means there is plenty of rain.
In the winter there are storms (which are beautiful to behold), but in the summer and into the fall, the sunny days are magic and strolling the impeccable beaches must be one of the most pleasurable things to do in the entire country. So if you love mild summer weather, and wild, gorgeous winter storms, this is the place for you.
Just try not to feel like a celebrity straight out of Malibu at a Pacific Sands villa. Why? This place is majorly luxed up. The immediate view of the sandy beach and crashing waves, the modern west coast angles of the rooms, halogen lighting, exposed pine beams, soaring ceilings, the gas fireplace, the in-room Jacuzzi, the granite floors, the multiple bathrooms (two plus a powder room in the two-bedroom villas) all conspire to make you feel you're living la vida luxurious.
The rates are good, too. Consider the spectacular views, kitchen, washer and dryer and the sleeping capacity of a villa and suddenly the high-season two-bedroom villa rate of $475 (sleeps six) seems reasonable considering a luxury beach house elsewhere would cost double or triple that.
What to do in Tofino?
There’s a beach to comb, waves to surf (people do it all year round), the rainforest of Clayoquot Sound to discover, the Botanical Gardens to visit, coastal trails to hike and of course, seafood to eat. You can keep yourself plenty busy with outdoorsy adventures, or take it easy and chill inside by the fire and watch DVDs (or better yet, the ocean makes for pretty calming viewing, too).
Or take general manager Dave Pettinger's advice and go for a seven-minute boardwalk hike through leafy flora to Sunset Point, on the property, which affords a captivating view of Cox’s Bay.
What to eat
Perhaps the only downside to staying at Pacific Sands is that it doesn't have a restaurant on site. But guess what? Seeing as you’ve got a kitchen and a dishwasher and you’re in relax mode, cooking suddenly seems a lot less of a chore. If you wish, fresh crabs and other seafood can be purchased in Tofino and cooked right in your villa. There's also a grocery store in town. Or, dine nearby at The Dining Room at the Long Beach Lodge Resort which is located next to Pacific Sands on the same stretch of Chesterman Beach.
Drive into Tofino itself (Pacific Sands is actually seven kilometers away from the town) to chow down at the other low-key restaurants. Leave the ties and high heels at home, you won’t be needing them.
Page 2 of 2 -- Where to say in the beautiful city of Tofino, B.C. on page 1.
Helen Racanelli is the editor of CanadianLiving.com.