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.
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;
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;
great piles of driftwood, brought in during its wicked winter storms that play with the imagination;
a dramatic, roaring, powerful, crashing surf;
moody & atmospheric days full of stormy, foreboding skies;
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;
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)
the electric aqua and shocking magenta anemones that wave their arms….…. 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;
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);
breathtaking sunrises… yes the beach has all the right angles(!);
a rainforest backdrop full of birdsong, hanging lichens and thickly carpeted moss floors;
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.
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.
Trekking up a mountain’s shoulder, hiking through a flowering alpine meadow, snowshoeing through a dense pine forest, or taking in the 360 degree views from a ridge top vantage point make me feel alive. The experiences in these places give me a profound sense of space and place.
Travel does a similar thing, pushing me out of my comfort zone, exposing me to new experiences, new people and new ways of thinking; it also gives me that sense of space and place in this world.
I believe that life is lived in the contrasts: when you experience simplicity and complexity and life's ups and downs, whether they be physically in this world or mentally in your own personal inner landscape, you know that you are truly living.
The bigger they are, the more there is to explore!