| Surfing in
Pacific Rim National Park
The epicentre of
surfing on Vancouver Island is in Tofino (Long Beach), which provides
the best surfing in all of Canada. Long Beach is a beautiful 20-km
stretch of beach between Ucluelet and Tofino on the west coast of
Vancouver Island. There is also a hard-core clique of riders on Southern
Vancouver Island, but the surfing conditions and facilities don't
match those in Tofino and Long Beach.
at Long Beach
in the Gulf of Alaska generate most of the tastier surf that lashes
the coastline of British Columbia from late September through March.
Other swells come all the way across the Pacific from Japan, or
are caused by more localized weather systems. In summer, the distant
Southern Hemisphere swells have a lesser effect, particularly on
Southern Vancouver Island, which is blocked by Washington's Olympic
Peninsula across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Tofino / Long
Tofino is the most popular surfing destination in Canada, offering
year-round surfing enjoyed by surfers of all ages and abilities.
The Tofino area is very accessible, and provides waves throughout
the year, boasting world-class waves on occasion. Because of its
wide expanse and western exposure, Long Beach is the beach of choice
for freewheeling, Maui-style windsurfing when the ocean gets riled,
particularly in winter months when the storm season produces the
best peeling surf. Long, rolling waves on Vancouver Island's isolated
west coast provide terrific surfing opportunities. A thriving local
industry in Tofino caters to surfers who dare to ride those 12-foot
beauties into the remote beaches of Pacific
Rim National Park.
The ocean temperature
here hovers at nearly 50 degrees F throughout the year - and can
reach up to 58 degrees F in the summer - so it hardly matters what
month it is: it's the waves that count. Tofino does boast the highest
annual mean temperature in Canada, which may help remove some of
the sting if you think about it hard enough while you're paddling
out to catch one more wave. All surfers and visitors should be aware
that a full body wetsuit and booties should be worn year round.
Parks Canada insists that all surfers know this, as the majority
of their rescues are for people not wearing wetsuits. A wetsuit
makes a great raincoat, and if it's raining - as it quite often
is in this area - being in the water surfing is the best place to
be! The wetsuit technology of today makes it possible to go for
a two-hour surf session without the hint of a shiver. Surfing is
popular in the winter months, with the surfing businesses operating
throughout the year - even offering popular Christmas Surf Packages.
For the uninitiated
surfer, there's a host of cool instructors in Tofino and Long Beach
ready to help you discover the most thrilling way to get the Pacific
up your nose! Long Beach is suitable for beginners and intermediate
surfers, but for their own safety, new surfers and beginners are
advised to take a surf lesson as an introduction to surfing and
to the local conditions. The ocean is always unpredictable and taking
a lesson will increase your level of enjoyment. There are 3 surf
schools in Tofino, and one in Ucluelet, where surfing instruction
is offered, and they'll also fill you in on local etiquette when
joining the manners-conscious lineup offshore. You can also rent
boards (surf and body styles) and wetsuits in Tofino.
Tofino hosts an annual surfing contest organized by the British
Columbia Surfing Association (BCSA).
Windsurfing in Pacific Rim National Park
Some of the finest windsurfing in North America draws devotees
to Nitinat Lake from around the globe. You have to be dedicated
to make the long journey to the west side of Vancouver Island, and
you have to be good to handle the constant thermal winds that sweep
across the lake at speeds of up to 50 kph. Don't wait until you
get to the lake to begin building upper-body strength. You're going
to need all the buff you can bring with you.