Not Living Small in Tofino (for a weekend)
I've always shared that while we live small intentionally, we are taking it year by year and sometimes even month by month ensuring that everyone is comfortable and getting what they need. When Trevor and I decided to stay another year in our small space it was with the intention of keeping expenses low to afford more travel even with my new part-time freelance work. Our first family trip of the year on the first weekend of March feels like we are on track for our goal of getting away often in 2018. While Tofino is not a new trip for us, this beautiful west coast town keeps us coming back every year for it's beautiful beaches, open ocean and amazing food. Our Westfalia doesn't have heat and we aren't brave enough to winter camp so we were lucky to stay at a newly built modern home in town, the Cloudbreaker House by Dwell Tofino. We've actually stayed in one of their other properties previously and loved their aesthetic, friendly service and attention to detail. The Cloudbreaker House exceeded expectations and was such a treat for our small living family.
One of the reasons we visit the island so often is my Mom lives there so we get to visit her (I swear our kids would prefer to live with her than us!) and benefit from her and her husband's generous helping hands! Below are some of our favourite stops in Tofino and a bit more about where we stayed and how we got there with a 4.5 and 1.5 year old.
Beaches: We gear up in layers, Simply Merino, knits, Rain Gear and hit the beach for as long as the kids can stand it. We went to a different beach each day. Chesterman's, Cox Bay and Tonquin Bay (just a short trail walk from our house). We bring nothing and the kid's just wander and climb and throw rocks.
Bike: Theo just learned to ride a pedal bike so we brought it and Trevor ran beside him on the flat bike path long the main hwy. They also went for a trail bike ride near our house that made Theo completely exhausted which NEVER happens.
Park: We visited the local elementary school playground one evening to run the kids out and local families were all hanging out and were super friendly.
Steam: We didn't make it but Christie of Dwell Tofino recommended a steam at the Wickinnish Inn (kid-less) so we are adding that to our list for our next visit.
Caravan: I like to pop into this sweet shop when I'm in town. Great for gifts or a reminder of Tofino at home. Sometimes she hosts vintage clothing pop-ups. I found Theo a perfect pair of denim shorts here last summer.
Wildside Grill: after the 6 hour trip on Friday my mom had Wildside take-away waiting for us at the house (thanks mom!). We love their gumbo and fish tacos and well, everything.
Kuma: Trevor and I got to sneak away for a dinner at Kuma which was wonderful. It's also kid friendly with crayons and friendly staff. I can't wait to go back and try more items. My incredibly talented friend Layla helps with the wine and sake list and I trust her with all my drinks so want to work our way through that list as well!
Tofitian: best coffee in town in my humble opinion
Tofino Brewing Co: We usually end up here after the beach. Loved their new larger location with more natural light. And love that we can bring the kids.
Logistically, Tofino is about a 6 hour trip (each way) from our home in Vancouver when you factor in Ferry travel. While ferries are great for letting kids run around, they add quite a bit of time to the journey. The winding road from Port Alberni to Tofino is just something you have to get through with kids. We bring snacks they can easily eat in their carseat and a loaded ipad and hope for naps. Sometimes they cry and sometimes they sleep but we always find the journey is worth it. We also often tell the kids what great travellers they are. We thank them for being so patient and brave and reward them for this. In our home, being a flexible traveller is high praise. We acknowledge that its boring or tiring but are quick to turn it around and talk about how that makes them such good travellers. Also while we are usually strict with buying new toys we often will let Theo choose a small toy ($3 or so) on the ferry. This small toy is a great incentive (re: bribe) and keeps him entertained after for at least half a day. Mae is too young to know if a toy is new or old so we just give her a small toy of Theo's so she feels included. Oh and we didn't bring a stroller (good idea) and forgot the ergo baby carrier (bad idea).
We had the most wonderful stay at the Cloudbreaker House. The size alone (3 bedrooms) was a luxury but there were many details in place to make our stay wonderful. The radiant heated floors, stocked kitchen with every utensil you could imagine including vintage glassware, growlers and fresh, local coffee beans. Modern details like poured concrete counter-tops and floors, warm wood finishes and white walls were the perfect backdrop to our weekend. It truly looks like it should be in a magazine for modern west coast homes but at the same time nothing felt too precious or fragile that I was worried we would break it. The stairs were also a huge hit, ha, a novelty for our apartment dwellers. The kids found a suitcase of duplo that kept them entertained for the weekend which was great and also ironic as the duplo in our home has never been touched. While not on the beach, it is nestled into a rock face in a quiet corner of town. The oversized windows show off the natural landscape that I could stare at all day (why are the ferns so much more beautiful in Tofino?). At one of the highest points in town there is a view of the nearby mountains and the always changing clouds. Couldn't believe how we lucked out on the weather with sun in March! We even hung out on the deck for a bit.
Thank you to Christie at Dwell Tofino for hosting us at CloudBreaker House. She has kindly offered 25% off in the off season and 15% in the shoulder season to anyone that mentions 600sqftandababy. If you are looking to book her house in high season send her an email and mention this post and she will try and accommodate you! We loved staying here and I would highly recommend it. Link to Dwell Tofino's website for info and booking here.