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Travel Story - Discovering Tofino

On the edge of Clayoquot Sound, nature is at its best

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"Both destinations are B.C.’s top tourist stops so it makes sense for people to go directly from one to the other," he explains.

Fifteen minutes later, we landed in the water between an Indian settlement village and Hot Springs Cove – the only hot springs on Vancouver Island. A two kilometre wooden boardwalk takes you directly from the jetty to the springs, passing through some old growth coastal rainforest. Even hikers who stare at their feet will experience an interesting journey as many of the floorboards have been painstakingly carved and signed by previous visitors. A history unto itself.

Eventually you reach the springs, a series of hot pools that decline in temperature as they progress toward the ocean. If you’re lucky, you may see a whale swim by from your luxury hot spot.

Of course the main way to see whales during their annual spring to fall migrations is from one of the many tour boats. It’s also the main way to see dolphins, sea otters, birds, seal lions, bears, seals, and a whole host of other marine and coastal wildlife.

The highlight of our tour with Ocean Outfitters was seeing a wolf hunting for food while we scrambled for binoculars on the boat, and the comic sight of a sea otter guarding his prized spiky sea-egg from a hopeful seagull.

Other tours celebrate human life such as trip to Cougar Annie’s Garden at Hesquiat Harbour, where settler Ada Annie Rae-Arthur raised her 11 children and nursery, and outlived four husbands and any cougars that crossed her path. If you can’t take the tour, there is always the B.C. Book Award winner, Cougar Annie’s Garden by Margaret Horsfield.

Galleries, native art and history – Tofino has a bit of something for everyone. However the main draw card for most is the ocean. And according to Kevin McPhail, a part-time sea kayak guide, it’s very addictive. Like many Whistler locals, he has multiple jobs to survive and pay the bills. But he says it’s worth it to live in Tofino.

"The adventure tourism business is tough because many Canadians will just go hire equipment like a sea kayak and do it independently rather than go through a company," he explains. "But there are still those who do, and every day I am out on the water is a special day."