A weekend escape “storm-watching” In Tofino has been on my list for a couple of years now. I had often tried to plan a trip but the long drive made it harder to complete over a normal weekend period.
In the past year Helijet has launched a Monday-Friday service from downtown Vancouver to downtown Nanaimo- this got me excited and it changed a 3 hour journey (including waiting time for the Ferry) into an 18 minute one and this cut the overall travel time nearly in half! Back in November I finally booked my accommodation and got prepped for a fun weekend away with my partner.
I forgot how much I love flying Helijet- it is such a smooth, convenient and enjoyable experience. Their lounge in Vancouver is great- they have complimentary beverages and snacks. When you check in (just 20 minutes before take- off) they take any luggage you may have, give you your boarding pass and a pair of ear protectors and then you can just wait and gaze out of the windows overlooking Canada Place and the North Shore Mountains!
Unfortunately we actually had a rainy day so we did not get a great view but we flew quite low due to the weather conditions so we had a giggle when we passed over a slow moving BC ferry down below us. I have been fortunate enough to fly in the summer though with crystal clear skies too which was magnificent. Either way the convenience just cannot be beat. Before we knew it we were pulling into the Heliport in Nanaimo!
You feel like a rock star arriving on Vancouver Island by Helicopter that’s for sure. We hired a car and Helijet had a complimentary shuttle which took you there straight away which was great.
I can imagine the Island is a very beautiful place in the summer, but as the purpose of this trip was to see the famous waves crashing against the rocks, we were really hoping mother nature would be on our side. Well...we got our wish and it started to come down full pelt pretty early into the drive. I had been warned that the roads were quite something so we were prepared and just took our time!
After we were visited by a few representatives from Relais and Chateaux, it inspired me to finally go ahead and book a stay at the world-famous Wickinnish Inn Lodge in Tofino. As I love staying at hotels I decided to split the weekend in two and the first day and night we stayed in Ucluelet (which was also about 20-25 minutes closer to Nanaimo than Tofino) and then we continued on to the Tofino the next day.
We stayed at the Blackrock Oceanfront Resort in Ucluelet. I highly recommended it. We stayed in a One Bedroom Suite which was huge- nearly 800 square feet, which was bigger than my apartment! And we have a long balcony the full length of our suite. The resort is fairly new and there was a full kitchen, dining table for 6 people, L shaped sofa, large TV and electric fireplace in one room.
My friend had recommended we go to one of the locals favourite spots for dinner, and I am so glad we did- the food was delicious, inexpensive and they were massive portions! It was called Hank's Unconventional BBQ.They have a limited wine menu but by chance they did serve one of the nicest BC Reds I had tried on my last trip up to the Okanagan!
The second day we continued on and made our way towards Tofino. We grabbed lunch at the Wolf in the Fog- voted one of Canada's best new restaurants by Air Canada's EnRoute Magazine. It was tasty for sure- we are glad we opted to go at lunch time and it's really hard to get a spot there at dinner!
We checked into the world-famous Wickaninnish Inn and it was really beautiful. I had high expectations as heard so much about it since I moved to Vancouver. The Wick Inn is part of Relais & Chateaux membership which is a worldwide collection of gourmet restaurants, boutique hotels, resorts and villas. It had a very authentic feels. Lots of locally hand carved sculptures. The staff were friendly and attentive. On arrival we were upgraded to a second floor room. A lot of the room designs are the same, but the higher up you are the clearer ocean view you have. What I really loved, and this was a testament of the level of service they pride themselves on, was that the person who checks you in also escorts you to your room. They show you all the features of the room and ensure you are all set to get out and enjoy the nature- rain or shine!
We took a leisurely stroll along the incredibly wide Chesterman Beach. There were so many surfers out so it was fun to watch them- though the waters must have been freezing!
We had a mini nap and it was so relaxing to get cozy and wrapped up but leave the doors open so we could hear the sound of the waves crashing literally outside the balcony. That evening we decided to actually get a take-out and grabbed a bottle of wine and pizza. As we already were just there for one night we wanted to really enjoy the room and facilities so it was perfect. The TV in the room actually folds out of the wooden desk which is quite impressive! Each room comes equipped with a DVD player too so we made our way over to their Library and picked out a few films to watch that evening. In our room we had a soaker tub and they provide incense sticks, candles and bath salts- it was bliss! The rooms really were immaculate. They weren’t very big but they were very well designed and you had everything you needed.
After a fantastic sleep we headed down to their highly rated restaurant “The Pointe” and enjoyed a delicious champagne brunch the next morning! The food was divine, as was the view- floor to ceiling windows right on the water so you could see the waves crashing against the rocks and admire the surfers in the distance.
We were sad to leave but I am so glad I finally got to experience the area and hotels myself. I am sure I will be back- likely in the summer this time so I can enjoy the beach and water a bit more!
Our drive back was much easier as it was dry- it was very scenic and we could enjoy that a bit more as we had better visibility. We made a stop at the famous xxxx forest- where the tallest trees in the world grow. We did the short trail loop and that was fun!
As that Nanaimo route only currently runs Monday to Friday, we did have to wait until Monday morning to fly back, so we just got an Air B&B for the night not too far from the Heliport. Conveniently there was a 7.30am flight back to Vancouver. I was into work by 9am! Then I really felt like a rock star!
For any more detailed information or to inquire about booking a similar weekend getaway for yourself please just call North South Travel on 604-736-7447 or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org