Valentines Day is all about romance – which makes it a great time of year for a quick getaway to cooler climes that encourage a little snuggling by the fire. On the wild west coat of Canada’s Vancouver Island, nothing fits the bill like settling into a beachside lodge for a weekend watching Pacific Ocean storms.
Tofino, about six hours from Vancouver by ferry and car, is storm-watching central. Its location on the edge of Pacific Rim National Park means there are miles and miles of beach to explore (the aptly named Long Beach, for example, is more than six miles long). In the summer, it’s a surfing town and even midwinter, you can spot wetsuit-clad surfers taking advantage of the stormy waves. But the prime winter activity is bundling up in a rain slicker and boots and stomping along the beaches checking out the waves from shore. A walk along any of the area’s beaches offers the chance to experience the thunderous chorus of the waves as they rise up, crest, and crash to the shore. Tons of driftwood logs tossed all across the sand are evidence of their incredible power.
Many of the beachfront lodges and resorts offer bright yellow rain jackets and boots for those who want to explore the misty beaches but lack the head-to-toe waterproof gear sometimes needed to do so comfortably. And, of course, they keep a steady supply of hot drinks on hand for those returning from a bone-chilling but thrilling walk on the Pacific shore, perfect to enjoy in front of a roaring fire. When the beach walking’s complete, a rustic lodge featuring overstuffed sofas and a huge wood-burning fireplace is the perfect place to cozy up with your sweetheart and enjoy a glass of wine and a good book while keeping an eye on the crashing waves outside.
If the fire’s not enough to warm your bones, nearby Hot Springs Cove will certainly do the trick. It’s located in the heart of the magical old-growth forests of Clayoquot Sound, accessible only by boat. Several charter companies in Tofino offer daily boat rides to the cove, which features a series of five interconnected geothermal hot pools. The hour-and-a-half boat ride to the cove offers great chances to spot some of the west coast’s most iconic wildlife, such as bald eagles, sea lions, and whales.
After all of that activity, however, perhaps the best part of a romantic trip to Tofino is crawling into a cozy bed and opening your windows to listen to the waves crashing below as you snuggle under a warm duvet. Happy Valentine’s Day indeed.
If you go:
The Wickaninnish Inn is the classic Tofino resort for those seeking the ultimate in west coast luxury. Middle Beach Lodge offers a very romantic experience that’s a bit lighter on the wallet, with a variety of lodging options, from very small rooms through to large cabins that sleep up to six.
Photos by Christina Newberry