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Cox Bay, Tofino BC

Storm Watching, Trails & Surfing in Tofino, British Columbia

By Carol Stathers

So, what is all the hype about storm watching? Late last winter we decided to take a trip and check it out.  Boots and raincoats packed, we set off to Tofino, B.C.!

Our trip started in Victoria; leaving at about 9:30 in the morning with a few stops along the way, we arrived in Tofino at 2:30 in the afternoon. The road was twisty and slow at times but highlights along the drive were Cathedral Grove with its meandering old growth forest trails filled with huge ancient Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar trees. A second highlight was glimmering Kennedy Lake about 30 minutes before Tofino. Reflecting back, I wish we had stopped to take photos of the majestic snow-capped mountains and stunning landscape reflecting on the lake. I guess we will save that for our next trip.

Cox Bay, Tofino, BC / Photo: C. Stathers

As we arrived in the Ucluelet/Tofino area, we caught glimpses of the ocean, crashing waves, and beautiful beaches from the highway. We continued onto our first stop, Cox Bay, which is a 1.5-kilometre-long flat beach covered with soft white sand and piles of driftwood along the shore, evidence of the massive strength of winter storms. This beach is not only a great place to walk, but a favourite for surfers. A unique sight for us was the surfers riding their bikes along the beach, one hand on the handlebar and the other holding their surfboards. By the way, the water temperature was ten degrees and all the surfers wore full-length wet suits!

Cox Bay, Tofino, BC / Photo: C. Stathers

The south end of the bay marks the start of Pacific Rim National Park and at the northern tip of Cox Bay Point is Sunset Point. The shoreline is one of those flat beaches I dream about walking along the water’s edge. Just spectacular!  We climbed the trails to the top of Sunset Point to get an amazing view and clicked some great photos of Cox Bay and around the corner to the famous Chesterman Beach. As the point name suggests, it was a perfect place to watch the sunset. As we climbed back down the trail we were honoured to stop and listen to a young girl playing the bagpipes which echoed across the bay; it was pretty special.

If you are looking for a couple of short hikes, we highly recommend the Rainforest Trail, located in Pacific Rim National Park and just a short drive from Cox Bay. This trail consists of two separate loops: Route A, located across the highway from the parking lot and Route B on the parking lot side. Both of the one kilometre boardwalk trails take you up and down lots of cedar plank stairs and meander through the coastal rain forest. Apparently this area receives 120 inches of rainfall per year compared to Vancouver which receives about half this amount. No wonder the forest floor has such fertile soil supporting the massive trees with thick moss hugging their trunks and lichen hanging from their branches. We debated which trail we liked better; my hubbie liked the size of the trees on Route A, but I really liked the more calming sounds of the creek on Route B.

Big Beach, Ucluelet, BC / Photo: C. Stathers

Another highlight of our trip was exploring Ucluelet. Even though our visit was during the late winter season, the surf shops remained open for those die-hard surfers. One of my favourite beaches in Ucluelet was Big Beach where we spent the afternoon sea glass hunting. We were so fortunate to have incredible weather during this trip, sunshine during the days and heavy rain on our last night to remind us we were in a rainforest.

Sea Glass Hunting at Big Beach / Photo: C. Stathers

I thought this trip would be more about storm watching but it turned out to be more about reflection and appreciation of our coastal beaches and rainforests. I saw a quote on one of the interpretive boards along our trip which really resonated with me “We don’t inherit the earth from our grandparents – we borrow it from our children”.

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For accommodations in Tofino and Ucluelet and elsewhere in BC go to Travel British Columbia.

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Published: November 12, 2020

Carol Stathers

About the Author

Carol loves being in the outdoors whether it is hiking, camping, kayaking or enjoying time at the lake. With a health background in nursing, she has written for many health-related journals and is also writing a historical non-fiction book about the Peach Valley area of Summerland where she lives. Along with writing, she and her family love camping. She grew up camping on Vancouver Island and has explored many parts of BC with her husband, three kids and their golden retriever. She and her newly-retired husband just upgraded to a newer trailer and are looking forward to more camping adventures throughout British Columbia.

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