Chesterman Beach Playground

Chesterman Beach is a long expanse of sand on Vancouver Island, on the west coast of Canada, that lies between the rocky headland that is home to Tofino’s prestigious Wickaninnish Inn at its northernmost end, and the band of sand that lies underwater at high tide, and is exposed as a bridge of sorts to Frank Island, at its southern end. We were lucky enough to use this beach as our anchor, so to speak, during our time in Tofino. Screen Shot 2017-02-13 at 8.05.12 PM.png

It is unparalleled in my mind, for it has so many elements that I love:

  • islands of looming, black and almost menacing jagged rocks that rise up, out of the frothing sea, in stark contrast with the  a smooth, pale, flat sand beach that surrounds them;IMG_1081.jpg
  • rocks that are ever-so-great for scrambling on, poking about and beach combing around at low tide, searching for the critters that lurk there;IMG_4469.jpg
  • great piles of driftwood, brought in during its wicked winter storms that play with the imagination;

    I kid you not… doesn’t this look like a dog’s head with a bone in its jaw?!?
  • a dramatic, roaring, powerful, crashing surf;

    This is a common scene outside our Seashack’s window… high tide brings the surfers and paddle surfers in from far & wide (in full-on wet suits because the water is quite cold!)!
  • moody & atmospheric days full of stormy, foreboding skies;IMG_1085.jpg
  • incredible moonrise walks when the tide is out and the puddles left by the retreating waves, caught in the ridges of the sand patterns, reflect the moon’s beautiful, ethereal light;IMG_2764.jpg
  • a treasure trove of sea creatures to play hide ‘n seek with at low tide like the brilliantly orange starfish and their deep purple cousins, (starfish)IMG_4471.jpg
  • the electric aqua and shocking magenta anemones that wave their arms….IMG_1482.jpg…. and close around your finger tips, with wonderfully gentle suction, when prodded gently (watch the brief video below)….
  • prehistoric chitons with their large, completely un-budgeable (for lack of a better word) shells (the ones in the photo below are a good 2-3” long), and nervous, scuttling crabs that scurry around in their midst;IMG_1456.jpg
  • majestic sunsets with mists, pounded out of the surf, hanging, suspended in the air (when you walk, toward the sea, through these mists you can blow smoke rings that you can see, with just your breath, in the light of a headlamp(!) which is just so cool);IMG_1618.jpg
  • breathtaking sunrises… yes the beach has all the right angles(!);

    Unbelievably, this is what the light is like at sunrise!
  • a rainforest backdrop full of birdsong, hanging lichens and thickly carpeted moss floors;IMG_3289.jpg
  • and tons of water …. water in the deep, cold waters of the Pacific ocean off its shore… water in the moisture wrung out of the fog in the cool morning air by the epiphytes in the ever-so-tall cedars along its shore… water oozing from the rainforest onto the sands of the beaches, leaking their way toward the sea… and water in the mists, pounded from the surf as the waves crash against the rocky headlands, coughing up billowing clouds of sea foam.

    These were my FAVOURITE rocks to scramble on, bathed in billowing clouds of sea foam as the waves crash in their chasm at high tide. Around the corner is a hidden cave, that you can only access at very low tide, hung with the craziest looking barnacles. The rocks are about 2 stories high.

It is harsh. It is beautiful. It is dramatic and stunning. And it pulls on my heart & sensibilities, ignites my curiosity and sense of play, and wrestles with my imagination, every time that I’m lucky enough to be there.

For more experiences of our 2017 Trip to Tofino, go here….  And check out more hikes from Canada and our adventures around the world here.

12 Comments on “Chesterman Beach Playground

  1. Why Tofino? It looks beautiful, to be sure, but it’s beyond the middle of nowhere – you’d have to put in some serious time just getting there (unless you use a sea plane.) Closest I’ve been is the mouth of Barkley Sound for some diving, about 50k SE of there. Do you know someone?


    • Tofino…. because it’s in the middle of nowhere, it has wilderness & culture, great food and awesome places to stay… and because when I was a young 20-something, we went camping at Green Point Campground on Long Beach, and it transformed my love of the outdoors to a craving for the wild spaces. I just love going back there, especially in storm season. There’s not many places that I really, truly long to go back to… but this is one of those gems. It’s totally and completely imprinted on me.

      And did you see the first post I put up? I put it up the wrong way, and it seems to have been missed by many. But it explains our journey to get there… and why we go.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don;t know how to fix a post when you put it up incorrecrtly. I’d started the post a while ago, knowing we were heading to Tofino. So it went up under the date I started it (I corrected it right away after it was posted) and I forgot to add a category to the post to make it pop up correctly in my blog stream (which I also fixed right away) … but nothing I did seemed to make it appear correctly again. Have you found a way around this?


      • I haven’t had that problem, seems like they go up on the date I publish them regardless of when I start writing, so I don’t know why yours would be back dated. One potential idea (which I haven’t tried either) is to reblog your own post with a little note up front explaining why folks might see it twice on your home page.


      • Ah… that might work. I just didn’t want to annoy the people that get my blog posts 2 times then, by email.

        Knowing that yours don’t do this, maybe I need to reach out to the help line and ask them if I have a setting turned on or off that they can fix for me. Thanks, Dave!


      • Looks like it’s related to editing and/or posting the same post on different devices – something I haven’t done. Maybe it’s a caching priblem.

        Liked by 1 person

      • And Dave, why Barkley Sound for you? The diving? (That’s what I’m assuming). When I was in my early 20s, Clayquot Sound was all over the news because of the logging protests that were happening there over the use of Meares Island. I think that the hard-fought battle to protect it has made me love the place too.


    • That looks like a wonderful place to set up and enjoy the diving from. I pictured you more near the mouth of the sound… by botanical beach or the place the school trips go to do their water studies (Port Renfrew Area… the name of the school groups place escapes me right now and evades my google skills). You should try Tofino some time. It’s not that far past Port Alberni, and you can get there all the way by car.


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