Spring Break has come and gone and we are still thinking about our trip to Tofino. Evie asks often when we will be going back. Addie still has sand in her boots she wore on the beach. We’re all missing the amazing food we ate. Prepare yourselves for a photo heavy post as we share about what we got up to in Tofino.
DAY ONE: TRAVELING TO TOFINO AND EXPLORING
Thankfully someone reminded us that we should make a reservation on the ferry for heading to and from Tofino. If we hadn’t done this, we would have been in for some ridiculous waits at the ferry because of it being Spring Break. With our reservations in order, we just had to show up a 30 – 60 minutes before departure time. Heading to Vancouver Island we decided to take one of the early morning ferry rides over which meant we were all up around 6 am to get out to Horsehoe Bay.
We, of course, hit Timmy’s to grab some coffee and breakfast to go as we drove. The girls did great with being up earlier than normal. We had packed as much as we could into the car the night before and just had to toss together a few odd and ends in the morning. The rain sadly started as soon as we loaded onto the ferry.
We were in for about 5 hours of travel time. This includes driving and the ferry. We made sure to take breaks along the way so the girls could stretch their legs. Our favourite pitstop was Cathedral Grove. This little spot has a small stretch of parking on the side of the road where you can pull over to park and explore the giant Douglas fir trees. Definitely, take the time to stop here if you are going to Tofino. It’s beautiful.
Our car was stocked with snacks for everyone. Between food and having shows loaded onto our Ipad for the girls to watch when they got restless, this was how we managed to get to Tofino without a major meltdown. Can we count that as a major victory, right? Once we finally made it into Tofino we all wanted a good lunch or early dinner. Friends had recommended Wildside Grill and it was just up the road from our hotel so we popped in there.
Wildside Grill is located in a little area where you will also find other great food, coffee, chocolate, and more. We actually ended up eating food from Wildside Grill twice that is how good it was! Jason got salmon tacos, which the girls and Tamara shared classic fish and chips that are made from locally caught fish. Maybe there is something about eating outside in the rain and having warm food, but it was the ridiculously good. Everyone gobbled up their food quickly. Addie also took the time to throw some french fries at the crows who were watching us eat.
Soon enough it was time to check into Best Western Tin Wis Resort. We didn’t stay inside for long as there was a break in the rain and the sun was out. The beach was calling our name. We still put the girls into their Newt Suits and rain boots as we headed to the beach. Our hotel was located on MacKenzie Beach, just a minute walk from our hotel room to get to the sand. The girls were so thrilled about this. Just getting to explore, dig in the sand, and splash in the ocean before dinner and bed. To keep things simple for dinner we grabbed a meal from the hotel’s restaurant and brought it back to our room to share. Everyone was tired from the travel day and needed to get some sleep.
DAY TWO: INDOOR ACTIVITIES AND HITTING THE BEACH
Our first full day in Tofino and we were greeted with… rain. Lots of rain. We had also had a bit of a rough night with Addie not adjusting well to the new sleeping arrangements. Both girls ended up being awake by 6 am and we all just got up for the day and hit the road by 8:30 am. We were off to the Ucluelet Aquarium. We were told to go here if we had a rain filled day. It was a 30-minute drive from the hotel which we were fine with. The rain just got heavier as we drove there. We were glad we made the decision to find something to do inside.
The aquarium is a bit pricey to go in, kids 3 and under are free. We had to pay for two adults and our preschooler. If you are going to be in the Ucluelet area for the day, you can leave the aquarium and come back later the same day. We ended up spending almost 3 hrs there with Addie especially loving being there. She loved the touch pools that were right at her level to see into and discover.
The amazing marine life that inhabits the aquarium are from waters of Barkley and Clayoquot Sounds. The Ucluelet Aquarium is catch and release. What you see there one visit may not be the same months down the road if you visit again. The staff were great and full of knowledge that they gladly shared with visitors. We were in for a special treat when we looked out the window and noticed a raft of sea lions in the waters outside.
We all ended up at the dock just outside watching as they swam past. By the time we left we were fast approaching nap time. Addie actually quickly fell asleep in the car so we decided to just drive around and explore. Tamara was driving and instead of heading back to the hotel, she turned and went the opposite direction. We ended up at a beautiful little beach but then kept going and found a lighthouse, Amphitrite Lighthouse.
Addie was still sleeping and we weren’t sure what to expect so Jason left the car with camera in hand first. To our surprise the lighthouse was a short walk from the parking lot. When Jason got back he said we had to go check it out. He stayed in the car with Addie, while Tamara and Evie headed out to discover the lighthouse. We still have no idea how Addie did not wake up with the car doors opening and closing. The lighthouse area is spectacular, we could even hear sea lions off in the distance. It’s a spot we would recommend visiting if you are heading to Tofino. If you can, do more exploring than we did and tell us what you find!
Heading back to the hotel, it was getting near dinner time. Well, early dinner time for those of us with kids who crash in bed by 6:30 pm normally. As Tacofino fans we knew we had to go to the original food truck that started it all. We got fish tacos and chicken gringas. Now, we’ve been asked which we liked better… the fish tacos from Tacofino or Wildside Grill? If we had to pick, Wildside Grill. There was just something amazing about theirs and the portion size was great for cost. We were able to feed two people easily.
The sun decided to make an appearance again in the evening so we got the girls in their rain gear (yes, rain gear for the beach to prevent sand from going down pants and water going into boots). It was quite perfect, the tide was at it’s lowest so we were able to walk farther out and explore some rocks to see if we could find any sea creatures. We saw a dark purple sea star and lots of anemones. We’ve never seen anemones at low tide before so this was neat to see.
The girls both loved digging in the sand and trying to build castles. Well, Evie tried and Addie destroyed whatever she made. At one point Addie was sitting with her feet in a mini tide pool and was attempting to cover herself completely in sand. So thankful for full coverage Newt Suits. We still ended up having to rinse her off at the outdoor shower when we went back to the hotel.
All that wandering on the beach though made the girls both want snacks, thankfully we were prepared with lots of options from Love Child Organics. Addie even brought a whole back of Love Ducks onto the beach. Though she was not impressed when she dropped one and it ended up being covered in sand.
Bed time… oh, bed time. It was a bit of a battle the first night to get Addie to sleep. We ended up tucking her pack-n-play in the little hallway that was around the corner from the beds so that she couldn’t see if anyone was awake still. This night though, we switched her to being beside Evie’s bed and near the windows. Jason took Evie to the hot tubes at the hotel while I got Addie down for the night. Getting her to bed and fast asleep and then putting Evie to bed made a huge difference. We all had a better sleep.
DAY THREE: RAIN, RAIN, MORE RAIN… GOOD FOOD!
We knew a storm was rolling in. We watched it from our hotel room that morning. With all the dark clouds came a lot of rain. The type of rain that soaks you instantly. If you want to test out a new rain coat and see if it actually is waterproof, go to Tofino and stand out in the rain. You’ll find out quickly.
We didn’t really want to let the rain stop us from exploring Tofino on our last day. After having breakfast we headed to the core of Tofino, grabbing a coffee and tea from Tofino Coffee Roasting Co. If you’re looking for yummy baked goods, check out there too. We had the best muffin and ginger molasses cookie. Plus the staff there are amazing. Making the best chai tea and caramel macchiato we’ve had in a long time.
Jason had heard about Tofino Brewing Co and knew he wanted to pop in there. They make small batch, handcrafted beer. After reading all the descriptions he settled on getting two Growlitos, one of their Kelp Stout and the other their Blonde Ale. Tamara’s now trying to figure out how to turn the glass bottles into drinking glasses.
Tonquin Beach came recommended to us by a couple people. You go for a little walk along some board walk and trail areas to get to the actual beach. You might want to baby wear, it’s definitely not stroller friendly, but this will also help keep your hands free for getting down to the beach. The thing we would be cautious off is that a lot of dogs were running off leash here. If you kids are apprehensive about dogs, keep an eye on this.
SoBo was the place that brought us our favourite meal of the trip. We actually shared a bowl of the smoked fish chowder and cornbread with maple butter. The girls enjoyed a wild salmon fish taco and chicken burrito. The kids meals were large in portion so we ended up saving half of each item for their dinner that night too. The chowder was the best with large chunks of fish and veggies and the cornbread… well, order more than one.
We decided to take the rest of the day pretty easy with a small pitstop to get ice cream for Evie before heading back to the hotel. We wanted to pack everything up and the rain was not letting up. We were all soaked and just needed to warm up too. Getting the majority of stuff packed up the night before leaving makes checking out so much easier. The girls enjoyed running around the hotel room. Jason actually went up to Wildside Grill to get fish and chips again for us to share. One of the highlights of this trip was definitely the incredible food. We want to go back just to explore more places to eat.
We called it a night pretty early and went through the same bedtime routine as the night before with Evie heading to the hot tube with Jason while Tamara got Addie down to sleep. It worked.
DAY FOUR: GOING HOME
If we could have stayed longer we definitely would have loved too. There is so much more to discover in Tofino and the surrounding areas. We hadn’t even left yet and Evie wanted to know when we would be coming back. We agree with her 100% that Tofino is a place we want to visit again, maybe next Summer.
We took the morning a bit slow because we knew we were good for getting to the ferry with our reservation. We also purposely booked a ferry in the late afternoon to give us time to take an easy drive back to Nanaimo with stops when needed. The one place we wanted to stop at first was Long Beach so that we could wander a bit more. We stopped at a place called Incinerator Rock, which is also where some scenes from a certain cheesy tweenager movie were filmed. Since Daddy climbed across the rocks here, Evie wanted too as well. Thankfully she didn’t slip on the wet rocks.
We stopped in at Cathedral Grove again, but only Evie and Jason got out of the car. Addie was napping again, but Tamara also called it that the trails would be soaked and muddy. She was right. A great place we went to for stretching our legs was Parksville Community Playground. We were ahead of schedule for getting to the ferry terminal so we were able to spend a good chunk fo time here letting the girls get all their energy out.
The ferry ride home we all shared about what our favourite parts of the trip. We all agreed that the view was spectacular. Being so near to different beaches was a unique experience, each one providing something different to explore. We left Tofino full of memories we made as a family. We will definitely be back again soon.