On the west coast of Canada’s Vancouver Island, the rainforest-and-beach town of Tofino is a laid-back getaway destination. It takes some time to get here — a 90-minute ferry trip from Vancouver to Nanaimo, then a winding three-hour cross-island drive — but the leisurely journey helps get you into your vacation vibe.
Most of Tofino’s accommodations are in family-friendly lodge-style hotels along the beaches south of town. Looking for something a little different, I recently spent two nights at BriMar B&B, a three-room bed-and-breakfast that sits right on Chesterman Beach.
Here’s the scoop:
Facilities and Location
With its weathered cedar shingles, this house among the trees looks like it’s been around for decades, but it’s a modern home, less than 20 years young.
You enter the house after walking from the parking area through a verdant garden and into an entryway where you can take off your sandy or muddy shoes. There’s a guest fridge and microwave here, as well as coffee and tea, so you can store snacks or help yourself to a hot drink around the clock.
Big windows from every room — the guest lounge and dining room on the main floor, the two guest rooms on the second floor, and the spacious top-floor suite — look out through the evergreens across the wide, flat sand of Chesterman Beach.
Guest Rooms and Amenities
The guest accommodations are done in cheerful golds and reds, a bright balance to the frequently grey skies (this is a rainforest, after all). I stayed in the large Moonrise Room, which had a comfortable queen sleigh bed, plus a little table and chair in front of the window, where I found myself often sitting to enjoy the ocean view. I also appreciated the spacious modern bathroom and the comfy bathrobe and slippers.
Though the waves were calm during my stay, the house is close enough to the beach that you can hear the surf — one of my favorite sounds! I’d love to return in winter, when the ocean kicks up some serious storms.
The other second-floor unit, the slightly smaller Sunset Room, has a king-sized bed. Its bathroom is private, but it’s located across the hall.
The Loft Suite, the most private room, runs the whole length of the third floor, with a queen bed under a skylight, an old-fashioned clawfoot tub, and a big modern bathroom with a walk-in shower.
Guest rooms have flat-screen TVs, and there’s a selection of DVDs in the guest lounge. Wi-Fi is available throughout the house, although everywhere in Tofino, including here, the signal can occasionally get a little wonky. Be patient, and it will return.
The ever-helpful onsite manager, Paula Mason, is a long-term Tofino resident, who’s a great source of tips for things to do and places to eat.
She’s also a great cook, serving up hearty breakfasts every morning that include fresh fruit, homemade granola, yogurt, muffins or other baked goods, and a hot dish like eggs Benedict or the delicious baked French toast (above), which you should hope is on the menu during your stay.
Things to Do
If you like to surf, or want to learn, Tofino has plenty of beaches where you can hurl yourself into the waves and a number of surf schools that can get you started.
I really loved a sunset harbor tour with T’ashii Paddle School, where we paddled in a traditional First Nations dugout canoe and learned something about the local aboriginal communities.
But after these super-busy days, I also loved coming back to my B&B by the sea and falling asleep to the splash and roll of the Chesterman Beach surf.
Double room rates in the summer high season range from $259-319/night and drop as low as $129/night in the winter storm season. Book online at BriMar B&B.
Hotel review by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller, author of the books, Moon Handbooks: Ontario and Living Abroad in Canada. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. BriMar B&B, in partnership with Tourism Vancouver Island and Tourism Tofino, hosted my stay for review purposes.