It’s now been roughly 8-months since we first arrived in Tofino, which is hard to believe. The time has flown by since we arrived here. We believe that it’s simply because there’s so much to do and we can spend a great amount of time outdoors. Throughout the winter and spring months we enjoyed a lot of hiking but most recently, we decided to celebrate the warmer weather by going sea kayaking with Tofino Sea Kayaking.
Tofino Sea Kayaking
The Tofino Sea Kayaking building at 320 Main Street has a triple purpose. They have guided kayaking expeditions, there is the Tofino Paddlers Inn, and Main Street Espresso. In the 1920’s, the building originally served as one of the first hotels in Tofino.
They have a large deck that overlooks Clayoquot Sound where you can enjoy an espresso from the Main Street Espresso while soaking in the breathtaking view. When we take guests out for Tofino Food Tours they enjoy a meat and cheese board from Picnic Charcuterie while enjoying the beautiful view. We also explain to our guests some of the kayaking tours Tofino Sea Kayaking offer and what better way to explain a kayaking adventure than to experience one ourselves.
Going Solo or Doubling Up?
If you have ever been kayaking before and kayaked solo, you know how this can be a bit more enjoyable. You do your own thing and don’t have to work in synchronicity with another person. Because the tide was dropping dramatically and then rising dramatically due to the moon, our guide Candice recommended we go in double seater kayaks.
Adam and I knew this would be a challenge for us. While we communicate well, for some reason when we are kayaking or canoeing, we have issues. Adam says, “left,” I paddle right. I say, “right” he paddles left. Despite our knowing this, we decided to give it a go.
Our group consisted of myself and Adam, Candice – our guide, Jessica (guide in training), and a family of 3 visiting from Houston, Texas.
While we were itching to get out on the water after our introductions, we still had to gear up and go through some safety checks with Candice. The most interesting part of gearing up was the decision between wearing Crocs or rubber boots. Because we would be hopping out of our kayaks into the water, we needed to ditch our hiking boots and make the difficult choice. Adam despises Crocs so it was an easy decision for him, however, I happily took a miscoloured pair.
Hitting the Water
With our gear all set up and safety lessons complete, we were ready to head out. We made the decision that Adam would paddle from the rear seat and I would take the front. As we started to paddle through the Tofino harbour, we noticed right away that our kayak kept going right. No matter what we did we kept going right. As we were paddling Adam figured that he didn’t set his pedals properly and it was causing issues when controlling the rudder. Whoops. It was too late now, so we figured we would adjust them on the way back.
Weaving Through The Islands
As we continued to paddle we first came upon Deadman’s Islet. We found out from Candice the tiny islet was once used as a burial spot for the Nuu-Chah-Nulth First Nations. Then we went by Lemmens Inlet which splits the two main areas of Meares Island.
Around this area, there were several other little islands. Some of them even have houses on them that are completely off the grid. I imagined what it would be like to live like that with the beauty and isolation. As Adam and I discussed living off the grid I told him my fear of what would happen not having a place nearby to buy chocolate. He indicated that we would have a stockpile of chocolate and that we had to stop worrying about chocolate shortages and start paddling faster. A quick look ahead and we discovered that we were falling behind from the rest of the group. We were definitely paddling at a very leisurely place.
As we continued along, the three major mountains of Clayoquot Sound – Lone Cone, Catface and Mount Colnett – seemed massive from our perspective on the water. At one point a bald eagle flew over us – one of several we would see on this trip. Jessica, our guide in training, kept telling Adam and I (in a very nice way) to hurry up. We apparently were a little slow because we kept looking at the islands and the mountains. The little islands were beautiful, covered in western red cedars and various other trees like hemlocks and the Sitka spruce.
Big Tree Trail
Almost an hour after we begun paddling, we were set to arrive at our destination on Meares Island – the Big Tree Trail.
As we approached the island, Candice guided us up onto the small gravel beach where we landed the kayak. Adam sure was glad to get out of the kayak. Because he didn’t have the pedals properly aligned both of his legs had fallen asleep. Once out of the kayak we both happily stretched our legs before going on our hike of the Big Tree Trail.
Exploring The Old Growth Forest
As soon as you get on the Big Tree Trail, you notice three things. First, your nose is almost immediately filled with the wonderful scent of western red cedar. Second, the boards on the trail are made of fallen red cedars and are uneven so you are constantly stopping and staring up at the trees for fear of tripping. Third, it’s called Big Tree Trail for a reason. These trees are old with some of the giants being in the one-thousand-year-old range.
The trees in this stunning forest are all unique. Candice explained to us because this is a natural forest, the trees are all different shapes and sizes and have grown how they want. In many second and third cut forests, you will notice the trees are planted to only grow to a certain height and width apart. The old-growth forest also allows more light to the forest floor below which allows other shrubs and plants to grow, creating a unique ecosystem.
I’ve been in many forests and I will never forget this old-growth forest. What’s crazy is that this forest was almost completely destroyed by the logging companies in the 1980’s. This left me with a sickened and disheartened feeling about mankind and how we so easily destroy our beautiful planet.
When the logging company was set to log Meares Island, First Nations along with locals teamed up to prevent what would have been nothing short of tragic. This happened throughout a series of events. First, when the logging company first approached the area with their logging equipment, they were told by First Nations that they were allowed to come upon the land but they were not allowed to destroy it. Later, the logging company was told by the BC Supreme Court that they would be allowed to log Meares Island. This was then thankfully overturned by the BC Appeals Court which officially stopped most logging activity on Meares Island.
Candice explained to us how First Nations would use the western red cedar, the tree they call “The Tree of Life”. First Nations would often spend time with the tree beforehand, relaying to it that it would be used to help their people travel by canoe, make their homes, baskets, tools and more.
As we walked along the trail Adam was taking pictures but often when you’re taking pictures in nature the end result never really shows a true representation of what we see with our own eyes. That was no different with the Big Tree Trail. You have to see this in person.
After we finished our walk on the trail we made our way back to the kayaks. The time spent in nature made us all happier and thankful to the First Nations for protecting this beautiful, unique piece of Clayoquot Sound.
Paddling Back to Tofino
Before paddling back to Tofino Adam got his pedals fixed on the kayak. Not only were his legs not falling asleep we were now paddling faster and with more ease than the trip out. Another bald eagle flew over us as the wind was whipping against us. With the sun beating down on us and with big smiles on our faces we arrived back at Tofino Sea Kayaking.
If you visit Tofino, Tofino Sea Kayaking should be on your travel itinerary. They offer a wide variety of kayaking trips for you to enjoy. They have a handful of day trips that range in the 2.5-7 hours that will make for a great way to introduce yourself to the beauty of Clayoquot Sound. If you want to immerse yourself a little more, they have multi-day tours that range from 2 to 6 days that will have you kayaking by day and camping by night.