Tofino - Spoiled through Discovery?

Old Dec 19th, 2007, 12:39 PM
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hpl
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Tofino - Spoiled through Discovery?

I've begun the research for our next vacation and Tofino certainly seems attractive. I'll admit however that the opinions on this board and others seem to be quite mixed; some talk about the "best place on earth" and others complain about "overpriced for what you get." Postings have raved about the friendly people and others share stories about young staff that don't seem to care. There are descriptions about the wild and undiscovered areas and others that describe noisy construction everywhere and beaches overcrowded with surfers.

I can very much appreciate differences in perspective and impression (I'm from Hawai'i and there's a lot of room for different perspectives there) so I'm not trying to challenge different viewpoints - we all have them.

I'm wondering if part of this dichotomy I seem to be reading about comes from an area that has been "discovered" and is now overburdened by visitors; someplace that was incredible a few years ago but is now feeling the pain of tourism. Maybe it's just a few folks that are never satisfied and their negativity is prominent.

Any thoughts? I'm still planning on coming but I'm curious.
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Old Dec 19th, 2007, 05:30 PM
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I think the people who knew and loved a smaller Tofino are the ones who are disturbed by the development. By my standards, Tofino is hardly crowded. Yes, the town is full of interesting shops, but it's not boring and it's fun to listen to people speaking all different languages.

As for the beaches and park trails, yes, there are people, but "crowded" - no way. We were there in August and our hotel sat on a beautiful empty beach - completely empty, except for an occasional hotel guest.

When we went, we wondered at why there weren't more tourists from the US. The majority of visitors seemed to be European, in fact, with some Canadians and a handful of Americans thrown in. We think it is because Tofino is really off the beaten path. It takes nearly a day to get there from Seattle, with the border and ferry crossings and drive. Most of the population in Oregon and Washington is closer to the Oregon Coast, Olympic Peninsula, San Juans, Mt. Rainier, the Northwest Cascades National Park and other places of tremendous natural beauty. While Tofino is lovely, it has a lot of quite serious competition that is within closer reach for many of us (and these other places are hardly crowded either, for that matter).

Now what is too overcrowded in summer in the PNW - Victoria and the Pike Place Market. Anyone else?
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Old Dec 20th, 2007, 06:27 AM
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Much thanks Orcas. My other (and related question) is how similar it is to the San Juans. Orcas Island is a personal favorite and, as a former resident of the Seattle area I certainly know of the crowded you mention in Pike Place and others "attractive areas."
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Old Dec 20th, 2007, 09:41 AM
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I agree with Orcas. I've been going to Tofino fairly regularly since 1994 or so (I live in Seattle), and yes, it's gotten much more developed since then but it's still an absolutely amazing place, IMO. It's still my favorite place in the Pacific NW. And "crowded" just doesn't seem to apply, even with the development.

I don't really find it similar to the San Juans, I guess mainly due to the miles of open ocean beaches that Tofino has.
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Old Dec 20th, 2007, 10:00 AM
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I've only been to San Juan Island and didn't find it similar to the Tofino area at all.

I haven't been to Tofino area beaches in several years but can't imagine it is anything less than spectacular. The biggest difference from when I was a kid is that you can't drive on the beach any more and I guess you have to pay for parking.
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Old Dec 20th, 2007, 10:34 AM
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I agree with the other posters. Tofino is not like the San Juans. The Canadian Gulf Islands are more comparable to the San Juans.

Tofino is more comparable to the Washington and Oregon coast than to the San Juans. It's rain forest, with pockets of broad flat beaches. There are headland cliffs. It's a bit flatter and calmer feeling than the Oregon coast - you don't drive such drama. Most unique, I think, are the bays filled with islands where you can kayak and explore. Also, I really like the town itself. It doesn't feel like the US because it is so international. Plus the food is extraordinary. They claim to have more "papered chefs" per person than anywhere else in Canada, and you can tell when you sit down to eat.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2007, 12:54 PM
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We were there in July and did not find it crowded especially compared to Vancouver and Victoria which seemed absolutely overrun at that time of year. I really shopped our accommodations, and we were satisfied with the B&B we chose (which caters largely to Europeans), and were careful about price in the restaurants we visited. We are also interested in hanging where the locals do and we don't shop, so I'm not sure we got the complete 'tourist' picture. We also visited as part of a three week trip through BC -I wouldn't make it a driving trip from Seattle or anywhere in one day - ugh! I wouldn't call it the 'best place on earth', which is only relative to the other places in the world you've visited. The natural beauty is certainly dramatic, but so are many other places, including Hawai'i.
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Old Dec 23rd, 2007, 10:03 AM
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I went to Tofino in the late 60's by gravel road so I know what it was. I have been back many times over the years and it is still as majestic a place as ever. Ignore any negatives about development. Go.
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Old Dec 28th, 2007, 07:23 PM
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I'll 'second that emotion" re Tofino being a dazzling place to go! "Crowded" and Overdeveloped" are relative terms. Have spent a lot of time in Florida, where the coastline is mostly wrecked by massive developments and highways everywhere. Tofino is pristine and low-key. Went there last August and hiked miles of horseshoe bay beaches with no more than 25 people on them on a given day.That's what I would describe as a perfect vacation environment.
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Old Dec 28th, 2007, 10:25 PM
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Ditto the general sentiment here, and good point on mentioning that "crowded" and "overdeveloped" are relative terms.

I find that people who are searching for romanticized notions of unpopulated beaches where you may have to trek through miles of rainforest via some rough logging road...

... will not find that in Tofino. If you're really searching for backwoods nowhere, true wilderness, you're in the wrong location. You will come across the occasional person, or 5, or 20 or 40 of them, on a beach that spans 2 miles in length. Pity. But I don't call that crowded.

Tofino has limited accommodation choices and a huge demand for them, hence the extortionate prices.
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Old Dec 28th, 2007, 10:30 PM
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... and I should probably clarify what I meant by "backwoods, true wilderness". What I mean is, if you're searching for literally unpopulated areas with no tourism infrastructure - the kind where you'd be the only tourist for hundreds of miles around, surely you'd be disappointed with Tofino. But Victoria - now *that's* touristy. Tofino's crowds by comparison is small potatoes. And even then, it's only really in the summer (May-August) where you notice an influx of tourists.

I should also clarify that nobody goes to Tofino to hang around the actual town of Tofino. Tofino has simply become the name people have given the whole west coast peninsula between Tofino and Ucluelet (which encompasses about 40km of ocean inlets, the Pacific Rim National Park, rocky coves, and sandy beaches on a backdrop of lush, old growth temperate rainforest).
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Old Dec 29th, 2007, 03:41 PM
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I agree with the other posters. . .we live in Victoria (which is only touristy for a couple of months!) and have been to Tofino quite a bit. . .it's beautiful, rain or shine, winter or summer. There are a couple of "big" hotels there, 3 or 4, one running $400 a night and pretty lux (but with an amazing, amazing restaurant) and yet there are also family homes and B&Bs that can be had at budget rates.

There are a few people who are now going to Ucluelet, only a short jot south of Tofino - it's even less busy. Which means there is practically no one there. We didn't like it as much, I have to admit.

There have been some unfortunate construction grants given lately, particularly for large resorts in the tiny Ucluelet, so get to the area within the next few years if you can. That being said, even the final development will pale next to places that are truly crowded.

The surfing is very good, sandy or rocky, a huge variety of breaks. Learn to love your heaviest wetsuit. The kayaking is world class. . .we have a lot to see of the broken islands group. There is even a hot springs island where a natural hot springs cooled by the rush in of waves every few minutes.

The rainforest on the road there is lovely. Tofino is more rural than urban, more unspoiled (by a million times) than spoiled (which it is not), more honeymoon than wedding.

If you go, no matter where you stay, sit in Middle Beach Lodge in the lobby, have a coffee or a hot chocolate, and read the thick book of visitors comments and musings. It's wonderful.
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Old Dec 30th, 2007, 02:43 PM
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Go go go!!! When I think of returning to a favorite ever place I have ever been, Tofino is always at the top of my list ( & it is a long way from my home in Texas!) We like Pacific Sands as the beach out the door there is long, rugged, no people & gorgeous. The tide pools are full of huge colorful starfish & the sand dollars on the beach are 4" across when you are lucky to find one at low tide. One poster is correct, Tofino is a generic name for the whole area. We enjoyed a day bear watching with Jamie's & were fortunate to see a pair of orcas lazily swimming by. September is a great time to go as all the families with kids are gone & weather is still really nice. BTW, the trip from Port Albernie to Bamfield on the mailboat Lady Rose is a day very well spent. See info on the internet.
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Old Jul 9th, 2010, 11:33 AM
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Tofino is beautiful and has it's own unique small town charm.... True PNW can be experienced there.... I have been there several times and I enjoy surfing as well as great winter storm watching especially if you can find an oceanfront room with a nice fireplace...

As far as value for money, I have to second that it's not the most affordable places... Frankly, it is over priced and overrated especially due to the very stiff competition from Olympic Peninsula and OR Coast..... For e.g. a ferry ride from Edmonds to Kingston is $10...Try $60 PP from Vancouver to Nanaimo and then a 3 hour drive to Tofino... Just like Tofino, OR is swamped with miles and miles of beautiful shoreline and many quaint little towns all along... I have to say a handful of them are more beautiful than Tofino especially Cannon beach and a much better value for money...The offset? A long drive from BC..... ( I don't mind that given the cost of fuel and disciplined roads and driving manners in WA/OR).... Overall, I prefer both Olympic National Park and OR Coast over Tofino.... Hands down!
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Old Jul 10th, 2010, 04:33 PM
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I have been going for the last 50 years, in fact we owned part of Long Beach until it became a park and was expropriated by the federal government. In those days it took over 3 hours of terrible logging roads to get there from Port Alberni. There were very few choices of resteraunts or lodging. The 'hippie days' saw many camping on the beach for free. Quite a different place from today, but none the less still as spectacular. I was just there again on Monday, one of those stellar hot cloudless days and although there were many many people there, it is not crowded.

The thing that I notice the most is the major increase in prices for lodging and food. I had remarked to my DH that I wonder how young kids do it today, camp up there for weeks and be able to afford it. But for those who have the money it is one of my favorite places on earth for sure.

Tofino and Ucluelet used to rely on fishing and some logging for it's industry. Now it is toursim and everyone who lives there is jumping on the band wagon.

We just came across a native beachfront campground that opened two weeks ago in Ucluelet, hike in, and it goes for $60 per nite with no services.
But you are on the beach......
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Old Dec 21st, 2010, 10:13 AM
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Personally, I think Vancouver is gorgeous and definitely worth a trip. Part of the beauty is that there are so many different facets to it, especially the gorgeous hikes you can take.

I actually do some work with Lexus Magazine and they did a road trip to Tofino. Check out the pictures, it may help to make your decision a little easier. I mean if I had the option, I would be gone in a second!

https://secure.drivers.lexus.com/lex...ld-Island.html
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Old Dec 22nd, 2010, 01:34 PM
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"overpriced for what you get"

Definitely overpriced, poor service in stores and restaurants to boot.

However by focusing on that one small town instead of Pacific Rim National Park people sell themselves short.

It's all about nature not buying trinkets-there was a time when we referred to Long Beach as the destination not nearby villages.

So if it's nature you want it's all still there-if you're not active or interested in the outdoors especially the open Pacific there's better value to be found elsewhere.
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Old Dec 24th, 2010, 01:37 PM
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We spent a week in Sooke, which isn't as windswept as Tofino. However, it is definitely far cheaper, has all the same wildlife, very friendly locals and very similar beautiful scenery.

It has the added benefit of only being around half an hour from Victoria.

Tofino was high on our list of next trips.

However, with simply ridiculous trans-atlantic ticket prices, a worthless pound and the poor value for money in Tofino, we decided against.
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