By Skye Walker
A year ago my buddy Lew and I had a trip planned to Canada in October. But a huge storm came through and wiped out our dreams of a getaway into the land of trees, bears and salmon… so we had to hit the delay button. So this year we decided to go a month earlier and hit Tofino in the second week of September. It turned out to be an excellent choice.
Now, this isn’t an easy place to get to. You need to get to Vancouver, take a two hour ferry ride to Vancouver Island, then it’s a 3.5 hour drive to the north of the island. But it’s well worth it if you score. I’m not saying we scored. But we did.
We camped the whole time, and luckily we had a massive tarp over our tents and campfire, because it rained the first night. And we thought it might stay that way but the skies cleared and we didn’t see a cloud for 4 days. The weather was a balmy 75 degrees and the water felt like a chilly day in California. We only wore our 4/3 wetsuit and booties and left our hoods and gloves in the truck.
Now I have to preface here, this was a surf trip. Boards in tow and that was the focus. But I knew there was a potential for bodysurfing, but my booties made it impossible to get my fins on. So I borrowed some XXL Duck Feet from my boy Kyle that were built like tanks, but they fit and so into my bag they went.
Our first day of surfing was late in the day, sun was setting and sets were rolling into a fun cove and as the tide got higher, the inside started to turn on. Bodysurfing was on my brain. But I was bound to my board. The car was a real hike away so I opted to stay out and surf. But my eyes were bugging out at some of the high tide draining barrels that came through. I thought I’d come back to this spot the next day and get some tube time but the winds turned the rest of the trip and this spot didn’t work again. That’s ok, other spots did.
In the water there, mini islands, trees wrapped around you and rocks flowed into the sea. It’s like the coastline is hugging you and welcoming you to it’s coves and shores. It was a cozy feeling as opposed to being way off shore and wondering if you were going to drift to Alaska never to be seen again.
We took it easy on day two and had a rad camp brekky, then set out to scope the scene and find some waves. The tide was shifting and the winds weren’t good for a few spots, so we drove around and got some beta from a local guy (Canadians are the nicest people I’ve ever met!) and he told us about an early afternoon spot that was going to turn on. And it did. We scored a three hour session that was, for lack of a better word, dreamy. It was glassy, hot and the green-lit waves kept coming. And as the tide dropped, the inside got even more hollow. Again, my eyes were bugging out! But the fins were 1/2 mile away in the truck… and we were scoring… so I didn’t get them. But I knew I’d bring them the next day. Our local buddy, who we kept running into, was freaking out during our session and he kept saying we were scoring the best waves of the summer. We were already stoked, but that just reinforced our stoke meter. And seeing the joy on his face catching waves knowing that winter doesn’t always look like this, was priceless.
We were toast after our session. We crushed epic burritos from the local taco truck called Tacofino and while we had all intentions of a sunset glass-off session, it didn’t happen. The waves stopped being what they had been earlier. But we knew the next day would be fun again. Kicking our feet up in front of a campfire talking about the waves we’d ridden and adventures both past and present while stuffing our faces with s’mores was a welcome end to an already perfect day. It’s the simple things in life that make it worth living and we were being reminded of that constantly. With the phones in the off position, we were able to focus on what were doing and enjoying vs. being bombarded by work, social media or other distractions. We like this tempo a lot.
Tofino is a super rad town, with surf shops, coffee shops and local fare mixed in with a fishing culture. Not to mention epic views, lush trees and landscapes and really sweet people. Tons of campers were there to surf. And lots of beginners as well. The beaches are big and sweeping, with a lot of mellow inside waves. Even the biggest day wasn’t super heavy, 8-10ft but really playful. It’d be easy to get lost up there for a few months.
Day three was a repeat of day two… just a tad smaller on the waves. But we scored the same spot on the dropping tide and we were grinning ear to ear the whole time. But this time, I brought the fins to the beach. I slipped those tanks over my feet and swam out to the line-up and the few guys that were out were looking at me like I was crazy. But I swam into a few back-lit gems. The fins were very cumbersome due to the booties and the stiffness of the fins. If I’d known, I would’ve just brought my trusty Viper V5 Flex fins and not worn booties. But I was glad to have these on my feet and sliding into a few low tide drainers. And next time, body surfing will be my focus. There are so many coves and spots that, on the ride tide and wind, would light up. According to the local guy we hung out with a bit, there is no body surfing culture there. Easy to see why, your a small fish in a big pond… but I think the risk is worth the reward.
Nothing more regenerating than a trip with a best friend to a new place that graced us with epic beauty and incredibly fun waves. And to find new places with amazing body surf potential just adds to the excitement.
I know I can’t wait to go back to that island and camp, explore and of course… bodysurf.