Seaplanes and Long Beach in Tofino, Vancouver Island

After a couple days on the mainland, we went on to my most anticipated excursion of our trip in British Columbia. Throughout my years living in BC, I had not had the opportunity to visit the west coast of Vancouver Island, so this was finally my chance.

Flying on the seaplane

Tofino is a small town of approximately 2000 permanent residents, located about a five hour drive from Vancouver. If travelling by car, the trip involves a drive to the BC Ferries terminal in Horseshoe Bay; a two hour ferry ride to Nanaimo on the southeastern coast of Vancouver Island; and then a further 2.5 hour drive across the island into Tofino. Because we were on a tighter schedule, we splurged on a flight via the Harbour Air seaplane that departs from Vancouver Harbour and takes about an hour to reach the main town, landing at the docks beside Tofino Resort + Marina, where we stayed for one night.

The seaplane ride was actually a highlight of our trip. The planes have only 10 passenger seats, and they take off and land directly in the water.

It was a little nerve-racking to be on such a small plane, but it was incredible seeing the overhead views of the BC coast.

Fish ‘n chips and a long walk on the beach

Once we landed in Tofino, we were off in search of lunch. We received rave reviews about Big Daddy’s Fish Fry so went there for their locally caught halibut fish and chips. These were the best fish and chips I’ve ever had, next to what I had in London.

Next on the itinerary was a visit to the famous Long Beach. Located between the towns of Tofino and Ucluelet, within the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Long Beach is literally the longest beach on Vancouver Island. It spans over 16 kilometres, bordered by the Pacific Ocean and old growth forest.

To get here without a car, we caught a taxi via Tofino’s version of Uber — Whistle. The fare was quite high, about $50 one way for a 16 kilometre trip, but we had no other good transportation options at our disposal. There is a multi-use cycling trail that starts from the main town, but currently only extends as far as Cox Bay Beach, about mid-way along the route toward Long Beach. The remainder of the trip takes you on the Pacific Rim Highway, which I would not recommend biking unless you are a confident and experienced cyclist.

Once we reached the beach, we took a nice long walk across about half of it.

The sand here is packed densely, so it is not really a beach for lounging around. A popular activity here is actually biking right on the sand!

And of course, it’s a top surfing destination.

It took us over two hours to explore about half the beach, and then we headed back to town for dinner. Despite its small size, Tofino has a number of great dining options. We enjoyed dinner at Shelter, where we had the tuna tataki and seafood curry. Would recommend.

Unfortunately, Mr. Chuckles ended up quite sick later on this night, maybe with a bout of food poisoning. We suspect the cause to be the greasy fish and chips from lunch, although I was totally fine. The culprit remains a mystery to this day…