So I have made my first visit to the famed retreat of both Vancouver millionaires and pennyless hippies. The first thing is, it is not that difficult to get to. Less than three hours drive from the Nanimo ferry terminal. (actually, 2.5 hrs to be precise, significantly faster than the 3hr Tofino ‘express bus’). But enough stories about driving fast – Tofino is actually a place of quiet retreat. Most of the sound comes from the ocean at Long Beach (which is not very long). Lovekin rock brings the danger near and stands out of the waves by setting itself back into the earth. Our campsite on mackenzie bay was expensive (40$) but also surreal (right above the beach). The Sunset from the beach in Tofino was pretty aswell.
However, if striking contrast between the edge of the sea and the edge of the land is what you seek, I must say that Neah Bay in Washington State fills that bill with more robustness. What is distinctive about Tofino is a little more subtle than that. The Telos of the community, being almost entirely devoted to certain kinds of tourism (see Uculette for a real working town, 30 km south of Tofino), draws a certain group of visitors. The ease of travelling there without a car (Bus, Ferry, Tofino bus) makes it accessible for travellers en masse.
But, it’s not just that that makes Tofino distinctive. Maybe that it’s one of the very few places you can drive to the west coast in Canada. Maybe it’s the at-ease which (for me at least) pervades the Canadian landscape but disperses as you pass by the powerful border guards into the land of oz.
But, actually, that’s likely not it either. Maybe it has to do with Surfing, which, despite being bound up in fashion and technology, provides a medium for mixing your labour with physis, and becoming attunted to the strength of the oceans and the sun and the moon. Maybe it’s that the at-ease I spoke of is actually just the pseudo-legality of marijuana.
Or maybe it’s the sense that I can go back alone.