by Andrew Morrison | My family spends a lot of time every year in Tofino, and we’ve slept in just about every resort and hotel the small town has to offer when we’re not camping in the Westfalia or crashing at friends’ houses. We have our favourites – the Wick, Pacific Sands, Long Beach Lodge – but until recently, there was one place that had always gnawed at our curiosity that we’d never gotten to, and it was Ocean Village.
The sprawl of bee-hive shaped cabins on the southern end of Mackenzie Beach has always beckoned. Our regular beachfront campsites at Bella Pacifica (#7 through #12) are toward the northern end of the beach, so we’ve walked past the simple-looking cottages countless times while combing up and down the sands looking for sand dollars (more likely on Cox Bay) and glass fishing floats (little baubles of beauty that have been pushed westwards by currents from Japan). The structures look like a colony of romantic idylls from the outside, little self-contained retreats promising the kind of nostalgic, West Coast coziness that comes with firelight and wine-soaked games of scrabble. It was where we landed on our most recent trip up, and it was awesome.
The beachfront cabins can sleep a maximum of 6 people (available in one and two bedrooms), and they’re equipped with shower, tub, kitchen, gas fireplace, and big windows that look directly into the ocean sunsets. There’s free wireless, too, though its pulse might prove frustratingly weak to those looking to download movies (there’s no TV) or upload a hundred high-res photos to Flickr. Lucky for us, we were up to eat, relax, and work offline on a cookbook, so the only angst the netlessness caused us – we couldn’t stream Canucks games – was not a big deal (in heart-shattering retrospect). As for kids (if you got ’em), what more could they want than a couple kms of beachfront to browse, dark rainforest to explore, and stern lectures on what to do when you see a bear, cougar or wolf?
Of course it rained the whole time we were there (such as it often does), but the sounds of the big drops pattering on the weird roof and the crash of the violent surf outside made it all seem fine (the property’s 50 ft. indoor heated saltwater pool and jacuzzi helped, too). And rain be damned, because just up the forested road is the little gravelled mall with its surf/skate shop, chocolatier, The Tofitian (for good coffee), grocery store and Wildside for fresh fish, good poutine and killer burgers. Truly, unless you want to visit another beach, grab a beer at Shelter, rip the skatepark, get some chow at SOBO or Spotted Bear in town, or are afraid of getting a little wet, there’s little reason to use a car.
It might not offer the same level of luxuriousness of The Wick or the space of a villa at Pacific Sands, but Ocean Village is an altogether different place to stay. You look after yourself instead of being looked after, and when it’s time to leave, you really don’t want to. So if you’re headed across the Strait to surf or scarf thereabouts this Spring/Summer, put it high on your list. It’s cheaper than most, and the return – as you can see from many of the shots below – is more than fair. To learn more about the town and what is has to offer, visit Tourism Tofino.