Surfing the Canadian Pacific Coast

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It was 7:50 a.m. on a misty winter morning as I danced the can-can in an effort to wrangle my wetsuit over my limbs. Once I was suited up, I added a shot of Baileys Irish Cream to my coffee—for liquid courage—and stepped onto the sand for my 8:00 a.m. surf lesson on Canada’s West Coast in Tofino, British Columbia, five hours from Vancouver.

While most adventure travelers would not put “surf” and “Canada” in the same itinerary, the town of Tofino proves that riding waves above the 49th Parallel is pretty swell—so swell that come summer, you’d be hard-pressed to find a lesson at one of the dozen surf schools based on the break.

The beauty of Canada’s surf capital is its year-round appeal. You can even play in the waves in wintertime (which I did), as outside temperatures hover around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and the Pacific Ocean remains mild.

After riding waves from Mexico to Australia, Roxy-sponsored surfer Catherine Bruhwiler holds firm that her hometown of Tofino has “the best and most consistent surf in the world.”

She would know. When she’s not competing, she’s in Tofino teaching surfing. That’s how I met her. And my multi-title-winning surfing instructor says, “It’s the best place to learn because all the beach breaks (21 miles of them, to be exact) have a soft, sandy bottom.”

Viewfinder Tip: Visit Tofino in the spring, fall, or winter, for the best access to surf school lessons and off-peak hotel rates.

Whether or not Catherine has a lesson booked for her company, Tofino Paddle Surf, she rides waves daily—something she’s been doing since she was a small fry learning how to cut through the water with her brothers (also Canadian surf legends). Armed with a wetsuit, hood, gloves, and booties for warmth, she doesn’t let less-than-perfect weather phase her; come rain or shine, she surfs.


Categories: Abacos, Canada, Vancouver

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