A relaxing beachside lodge overlooking Cox Bay was our accommodation of choice for a long weekend trip to Canada’s surfing capital, Tofino. A conservative 3 hour drive from the BC Ferries dock at Nanaimo, the Long Beach Lodge offers visitors a luxurious yet relaxed break surrounded by lush temperate rainforest on one side, and the vast Pacific Ocean on the other.
Reasons to stay at Long Beach Lodge
– The view from the Great Room over Cox Bay at any time of the day is great, but during sunset it is spectacular, especially with an evening cocktail in hand!
– The food served in the Great Room is excellent as evidenced by the 45 minute wait for a table with a reservation – the smoked albacore tuna & island scallops were sensational on the taste buds.
– The newly built and bear proofed hot tub (apparently they like the smell of hot tub cover) is open to 11pm every night for all guests to enjoy. This was a welcome surprise usually reserved for ski resorts and was well needed after a day of getting worked by the Pacific Ocean waves!
– The Cox Bay beach front location makes access to the waves very easy and there is storage for your surf gear. Just remember though that you need the full wet suit and boots to go surfing as the water is a balmy 6 degrees (something to do with currents and proximity to Alaska we guess!)
– The young staff are extremely friendly and helpful – nothing is too much trouble!
– The resort has some magical cottages hidden in the trees which would be perfect for a family / group get away. Alternatively, you can stay in the spacious, relaxing and very comfortable Lodge rooms which have luxurious bathrooms.
– The Great Room is a nice place to chill out on a comfy sofa with a drink and enjoy a good book.
Things to watch out for:
– It’s not easy to rent surf gear from the Lodge unless you book a lesson with them. Your best bet is to head into town early (to avoid the weekend crowds) and rent from 6 hours to 3 days from establishments such as the Long Beach Surf Shop (630 Campbell Street)
– Watch out for rooms near the Great Room – Breakfast starts at 7.30am and so does the unwelcome wake up call of other guests moving in for their complimentary continental offering!
– It’s about 7km to get to Tofino – if heading out for dinner you will need to grab a cab or appoint a designated driver, walking back in the dark on the busy main road is not recommended!
– Not that you come to Tofino to watch TV, but don’t expect crystal clear pictures in your room…nothing to do with the quality of the machinery provided, probably more location of the Resort on the edge of the Pacific Ocean surrounded by mountains! We think Usain Bolt won the 100m at the London Olympics but it was a bit fuzzy!
– Grabbing a bite at lunch while in your wetsuit can be a bit tricky as there is no surf shack on Cox Bay Beach and the surf club café only serves coffee! Our solution was to order takeaway lunch from the Great Room which was a bit of a hassle but was achievable with the help of a friendly receptionist who delayed her trip home after her shift to make sure we got our fish and chips!
Facts you may want to know before you arrive:
– A standard room was $299 before tax on the August Long weekend (Tofino is often noted as being the most expensive place to stay in Canada)
– 2 course dinner for 2 with a bottle of wine with tip and tax was $150
– A yummy continental breakfast is included with your stay but upgrading to a hot breakfast is $4 per item. Smoothies are $6 each
– A fish and chip lunch will set you back $26 including tax and tip
– Check in is at 4pm (we checked in at 1.30pm without issue), check out is 11am (we made it 11.30 given how comfy the bed is)
– Parking is free and fairly secure
– Surfing lessons cost $189 for 2.5 hours for 2. Wet suit and board rental is $39 per person (but only if you are having a lesson)
– If you’re a pro surfer ask Mike at the bar about his secret spot…..you’d better be good though, this place is for pros (unlike us)!!
So for one of our first posts, we thought it would be appropriate to write about a very Canadian summer activity…..camping.
We spent the Spring stocking up on the latest ‘must have’ camping equipment from iconic Canadian retailer Canadian Tire (yes that is how “tyre” is spent in North America). This included and is not limited to: tent, sleeping bags, blow up mattress, bbq, cooking utensils, lantern, plastics forks, spoons, knives, plates, cups, gas, torch, tarps …..you get the picture that the list is very long!
So with about 22,240kg of equipment purchased, we were ready to head into the great outdoors to enjoy all the “benefits” of camping such as being at one with nature, finding yourself around the flickering flames of a midnight fire and most likely saving some money on a hotel!
Getting a Pitch
The only problem is that if you’re new to camping in BC you won’t have realised that every single person in the Lower Mainland does it, and so by March 16 all the Provincial Park Campsites in the whole of BC are booked! When we first heard this from a local, we thought this was some kind of joke, but after checking the BC Provincial Parks website in mid-August and seeing zero availability for any campsite within weekend driving distance of Vancouver, we were not laughing anymore!
So, given this situation, we phoned around a number of private campsites a few days before the much anticipated initial expedition under canvas and after 5 fruitless calls, we finally found a site with spaces just 10 minutes’ drive from the popular Cultus Lake called Vedder River Campground.
Despite a warm welcome from Vedder River Campsite attendant who upsold us some logs for $6 (am sure they are free from the local woods) the start of the camping trip did not go well. An 8 man tent had been purchased at a massive 66% discount in anticipation that a lot of room would be required for 2 people to accommodate some camping luxuries such as suitcase stand, mini bar, flat screen TV….
Constructing this tent / small marquee under the gaze of many inebriated country music loving campers (more on these folks later) was more difficult than anticipated. With instructions in a foreign language only understood by the Aztecs and diagrams that looked like the proud artwork of a child in Pre-school it was left to the traditional camping technique of googling on an iPhone to found out how to put it up!
After a quick trip to Save on Foods (Food) and BC liquor (alcohol) in the nearby town of Chilliwack we returned to our deluxe campsite (it had flushing toilets and hot showers after all) in anticipation of feast on kebabs, marinated chicken, corn on the cobs and potato salad. However, our feast was not enjoyed for two reasons. …
Firstly, a fellow camper in our group fell ill to a nasty bout of food poisoning suffered when inhaling a dubious taco on the drive to the campground in an attempt to modify a hangover’s status down from aggressive to bearable.
Secondly, the aforementioned neighbourhood campers who had been enjoying a lot of red neck home brew got a little too rowdy. A spot of domestic violence by one particular sampler of the super brew resulted in the formation of group of vigilantes who took a dislike to men hitting woman. The alleged defendant responded to such a group by pulling out a knife, slurring some expletives and then jumping into his 8 litre V12 truck to make a quick getaway (after drinking his own body weight in 10% bear brew the getaway involved a lot of stumbling and dust). The Police soon arrived to take statements after the aggressor had been detained at the campsite entrance. For family and friends reading this, we were at no point in danger but were merely bemused onlookers from around our fire trying to answer the question….is this really what camping is all about?
With the drama over, the evening was spent pleasantly talking and drinking around the fire.
The evening’s sleep was only interrupted by a) the sound of thunder which resulted in 30 minutes of scrambling around in the dark trying to cover the gaps in our shoddily erected tent using tarp and string, and b) the common camping issue of the inflatable mattresses slowly deflating to the point where you are basically sleeping on the floor. The final new thing we learnt about camping is that campers like to get up early, like 6am early! Why? We can only guess it takes 2 hours to build a fire and boil a kettle to make a cup of tea, or they just want to beat the Sunday morning queues at the nearest Tim Hortons!
Thanks for reading
Paul & Helena