Monday, 3 September 2012

Bike Riding in Tofino -West Coast Cool

The west coast of Vancouver Island is known for it's beauty, ruggedness and abundant wildlife. Tofino, situated right in the heart of this pacific region, has natural wonders in abundance as well as a cool factor that keeps visitors coming back. To say it rains here a lot is a bit of an understatement (it is a rainforest after all), but I was fortunate to have some drier, even sunny weather for my visit this past weekend.

Biking in Tofino is quite popular, with many activity centres offering bike rentals at a daily rate of $30. I brought my own bike to explore the region and set off from my hotel towards downtown Tofino and its beaches to the south.  There is a separate bike/pedestrian lane for some of the ride into Tofino and I noticed that this was also the case just outside the town of Ucluelet, 42 km south.  There just is no separated bike lane in Pacific Rim National Park, the area between the two towns. For that area, you will have to ride on the road. Be cautious as there is sometimes very little shoulder on the road and cars can come up quite fast so make sure you are visible.

As a side note, I would not recommend biking on the Pacific Rim Highway, which is the road from Ucluelet to Port Alberni. This road is sketchy enough in a car, let alone on a bike. The road is very steep and winding, with uneven pavement and in many parts has no shoulder. The road can be too narrow to safely bike with many large trucks, RV's and other vehicles racing past. I would recommend instead to transport your bike to Tofino and then ride it, or just rent one from town.

Separate Bike Lane To Tofino 
There are many stunning beaches for exploring, some close to Tofino, like Chesterman Beach, with others a bit more of a ride.

Carefree On Two Wheels 

Surf Culture Abounds 

Catching Waves 
Surf culture is a large part of Tofino, with boarders flocking here from many parts of the province to ride the west coast waves. You can rent surf boards and book a lesson with many outfits in town or just take it all in and watch from the safety and dryness of the beach.

Check out Long Beach for the largest stretch of sand beach. With low tide, biking is ideal along this beach, with the sand packed down firmly. You'll be able to ride for quite a while.

Long Beach 
But sand and surf is not all Tofino has to offer. While you are here, be sure to check out the Rainforest Walk. This trail is situated in Pacific Rim National Park, just off the main road with clear signs pointing the way. Huge trees, giant ferns and the lushness of a west coast rainforest can be experienced on this short trail, much of it on an elevated boardwalk.  It's well worth a look.

 At the end of your day of exploring, head back into Tofino and grab a bite to eat at one of the many great restaurants. Have a drink at Shelter, a lively gastro pub with a focus on seafood (of course!) and regional cuisine. Try a pint of local favourite Tofino Brewing Company's many microbrew offerings.

If the weather is still on your side, don't miss checking out one of the unforgettable sunsets. Tonquin Park Beach is close to Tofino, just a short bike ride up some residential side streets. Another perfect end to a perfect day. It's been a while Tofino, but I have fallen in love with you all over again. Until we meet again...

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