tofino stormwatching - tofino's wild wet coast

Tofino's Wild Wet West - a guide to stormwatching in Tofino

by Nick Cherwinski


Some people have discovered the importance of staying inside. Watching the weather on television as the reporters tell us what percentage of what is going on in the sky and if it will happen that day.

The major drawback to that is how one cannot feel the rush of almost getting wiped off the rocks by the many dangerous tidal surges that we as Tofino locals should all know about. I suppose that because you don't literally want to get swept away, you stay inside somewhere in the prairies and watch us out here on the edge clinging on for dear life. I'm taking about "Storm Watching".

The folks in the tourism industry here in Tofino thank their lucky stars that they had paid attention during the movie "Twister" and how well it did in the box office years ago. The hype around this thrill seeking sport as some may call it is tantamount to perhaps even sky diving. Of course this all depends how close your hotel room is to that wave breaking and crashing into the coastal beaches of Canada. Many of our locals are employed by tourists who pay us to take them closer to the edge on a guided hike, boat or plane ride. Should you catch a program on the television that can accurately depict how it feels, looks and smells call me.

I have seen some storms in the prairies as well. Anything from -60°C in a blizzard that can freeze your tongue to your jacket zipper faster than you can say stuck! To those couple of times that I mustered the moxy to stand real close to the edge of the rocks down at Radar beach then be pummelled by a wave. (Not for the average tourist believe me!).

You should at least be swept into another realm by standing at one of the many viewpoints we have here to offer. As the wave comes billowing in you watch with baited breath. You know that your camera will be snapping soon and you wait until the exact… right… moment… then Crash, Smash, Swoosh, Rumble, Mist and Salt all at the same time and exhale and wait for the next one. After being there, the television only goes so far and from then on you can never get too close. Many photographers have been able to snap that super splash, and have gone on to sell that experience for many a pretty penny, to those who prefer two dimensionality. As well, the hoteliers out here use the so-called "Bad weather" to carry them through what use to be known as the slow season.

With the right label such as "thrill seeker", coupled by the fact that reality television is on all the time, people want to actually be where the cameras are taking them. Without getting overly political, I'd like to note that if we could continue showing the myriads of tourists who come and visit this village what nature can be like up close and relatively untouched. We may be one step further in our own evolution as a people. I am pertaining directly to the feeling of total enlightenment that one can possess regarding the power of nature when it hits you right in the face and gets you wet.

How about all of those "Survivor" fans who wished they were there so that they could win the million… why not try and stand up to mother nature's largest organ: the deep blue sea first hand in our backyard.

Tofino Storm Watching Spots:

  1. Wickaninnish Beach
    Located at the south end of Long Beach within the Pacific Rim National Park, this spot offers some of the largest swells and concentration of driftwood in the water.

  2. Second Bay
    To get to this spot you follow the trail that leads from behind the Wickaninnish Interpretive Center. This small pebble beach gets large swells funneled into it from outer rocks and islands

  3. Long Beach
    For the biggest of panoramic views there is no beating long beach. Miles and miles of rolling swells can be seen crashing over offshore islands and rocks.

  4. Cox Bay
    Known to be a focal point for most direction of swells, this spot gets the biggest and most powerful waves.

  5. Chesterman Beach
    This residential beach, dotted with B&B's gives the most varied of views. You can watch massive rollers enter the mouth of Cox Bay, towering waves crash onto Frank Island or steep breaking wave faces with the lighthouse in the background.

Nick Cherwinski is a two year resident of Tofino and has weathered many a mindboggling storm. However — he still awaits to be swept off his feet.
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