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Welcome to the inlet side, where calm waters, sheltered animal habitat and ancient cultures create an entirely new experience. Here's your inside guide when you're next in town...
Tofino’s bear-watching season runs from spring to fall and the experience – drifting along coastal inlet coves where bears frequent – is one of the gentler boat outings in town. All that is needed is a warm set of clothes and a sense of adventure and Ocean Outfitters, one of the most lauded operators locally, does the rest with minimal impact and maximum adventure. The bald eagles, seals and porpoises are often included at no extra charge.
As wild and untouched as Tofino is, Meares Island is even more so. Located less than 10 minutes from downtown via various marine outfitters like Tofino Water Taxi, Meares boasts world-class hiking for all levels including the gentle Big Tree Trail through old-growth, mammoth Western Red Cedars and other West Coast giants. For the intrepid, the steep hike to the peak of Lone Cone is a five-hour round trip that rewards the investment with panoramic views of the islands and waterways of Clayoquot Sound from on high. The Tla-o-qui-aht village of Opitsaht is thought to be the longest continuously inhabited human settlement in Canada, at an incredible 5,000 years!
Whether you prefer to explore the area’s primeval coasts by a 25-ft. dugout aboriginal canoe (complete with a local Nuu-chah-nulth guide), or prefer a more independent way to connect with the marine bounty, T’ashii Paddle School is your gateway. Locally owned by cultural guide Tsimka Martin, the school offers everything from two-hour introductory group paddling lessons to extended SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) exploration of this rare and protected habitat.
After an epic day on the inside, keep the discovery going with a stunning sunset dinner and drinks at the new Ice House Oyster Bar – the ultimate waterfront patio (situated right on the dock) with clear lines to fishermen bringing in the ocean’s bounty right into the kitchen. This place prides itself on local – from the sustainable seafood to the carefree and creative cocktail list.
Whether you’ve been to Tofino twice or 12 times, chances are you’ve followed the ocean spray to the wild, open Pacific edge of the Esowista Peninsula that Tofino crowns. But there’s a gentler, mellower side of Canada’s favourite surf town that even Tofino junkies overlook.