Tofino BC Surfing and Milky Way

We've been wanting to trek up to Tofino, BC, on Vancouver Island, for many years, and we finally made it. I've not been to such a magical place before, the energy was all its own, palpable and positive. Something about being on an island that's far away from the fast-life, in a small quiet town with an ancient human history spanning thousands of years, surfing fun waves and looking out at dark, starry skies. Or maybe it was all the feminine presence in the water, with lots of good spirit in the lineup. It still surprises me that surfing in the Pacific Northwest attracts so many women, usually like 50% or more of the lineup, with conditions that can be cold and sometimes harsh.

Most photos here were taken with the Fuji X-T1 and one of the Fuji primes or zooms, maybe one or two with the Sony RX100 III. Click on any image for a larger view.

To get started, we took the ferry ride across the Puget Sound from Anacortes to Sidney, and passed the two hour trip with some card games and sight seeing (there was no wi-fi).

A rare glimpse of the girls on a ferry, during a serious match of Gubs.

When we arrived it was pouring rain like we hadn't seen in a long time, two feet in four days, at least. There were waves though, and we were stoked to surf, and get out on the beach during some of the lulls in rain.

The Tofino locals.

But you can't just sit on the beach in Tofino, as nice as it is (even in the rain). We got out into the rain forest, to learn about the plants and animals and the ancient human caretakers who watched over them all. You know this is a healthy nurse log, right? I've never seen any quite like this.

And of course, we have to keep our eyes open for the banana slugs, the barometers and recyclers of the forest. We don't want to step on them!

Back in town, it was off to Tacofino several times for burritos and tacos, damn they were good. I must have eaten 5 of them during the week.

And back on on Chesterman's Beach, where there was at least one or two good sunsets to watch. I had been waiting for a good sunset of course, and thinking of photo compositions during the grayness, while waiting for Mother Nature to do her thing, change. Still, I never felt like I found the best spot or a really attractive composition, but that's okay, it just means I'll have to return.

I still don't know, and wonder, who's car this is corroding away near Frank's island. The whale tale shaped spit of land must get flooded from time to time and I imagine this car was right there during one of those floods. The First Nations people talk about a Great Flood that occurred around 10,000 years ago, which corresponds with many flood myths from around the world, and perhaps the end of the last Ice Age, so maybe the car is leftover from then.

One of those crazy orange-glowing sunsets in Tofino.

When the waves weren't pumping, or we were in between surf sessions, we'd explore the beach and caves which were accessible at low tide. Here a little girl faces a big dark cave, maybe pondering what could be inside, or what might have been inside from times past.

Little girl meets big dark cave.

The beach and caves never get tiring to explore.

And we made a trip out to the local botanical gardens, which were full of sculptures and art, plants, animals, and fun. Anne got this nice shot of a plant in the golden spiral.

Waves ranged from knee high to a little overhead during our stay. The sun came out for a few days and we caught some good ones, and got the girls out on the boogey boards. Here's Anne getting a smaller one, and one of the few photos where there wasn't a pack of surf school folks crowding up the frame =)

Tofino and Vancouver Island are one of those interesting, rare landscapes where a billion islands dot the water on both the ocean-side and the inlet-side. Even the mountains have a style all their own, and the top hats to prove it.

With the angle and shape of the whale-tale sand spit at Chesterman's, a lot of fun moments present themselves for sunset photography.

This was a total surprise, I didn't expect any of this to manifest and noticed it just by turning my attention from the surf to the sun. I'm glad I did.

Tucked away in Tofino, BC.

Even the pools of water in the sand made cool effects, and captured reflections of the clouds.

After recognizing the sunset situation, I rallied up my family for a sunset stroll the next night and tried to capture some silhouettes. Unfortunately I didn't think through the clothes that the girls were wearing here or these shots could have turned out much better - if they were wearning sun dresses or tighter fitting clothes. Still though, I'm happy to have captured these memories.

A little girl  contemplates her world.  In a handful of sand, a symbol of unshaped reality as it exists both at the beginning and the end, before and after her mind would intentionally form it.

And after the sun goes down and everyone gets into bed, I managed to muster up enough energy on the last night to get out and see the stars. Man was it worth it. The skies were clear and dark, and the Milky Way was in full form, arcing across the sky. Here I am alone on the beach, save for a bonfire or two far away. Silent. Mysterious. Awesome. Following the ripples in the sand, looking toward Frank island.

Tofino is magical all around, and has some of the darkest skies I've seen on the PNW coast.  This night I was on the beach mostly alone aside from a bonfire or two, soaking in the silence and mystery and looking out across the whale tail shaped landscape of Chesterman's beach toward Frank island.  The waves were glowing, bioluminescense, but I didn't realize it until later, after this photo, and I did manage to get a photo of that too.

Walking out to Frank island the story was a little different. The rock was so dark I couldn't see under my feet, but I managed to find a still tidal pool to reflect some starlight. It was a little spooky, not really so much, but a little.

And a little zen before turning in for the night.

And as usual, the ferry ride home was full of fun. Something about ferries, the wind, the water, the lack of wi-fi. Here's the Syncro loaded up and parked for the ride.

And the BC ferries were far and away nicer than the WA State ferries. Here we are walking against a steady 40 knot headwind.

Tofino, we will be back! Hopefully as early as Thanksgiving. I want to be there during the off season, when it's not too cold and the waves are good, and when the night comes earlier, so we don't have to wait up until midnight for stargazing.