Young or old, there’s something so appealing about a treasure hunt. When the jewels and gems you’re searching for are elusive sea creatures, hiding in cracks and fissures, exposed to intrepid coastal explorers at the very lowest of tides, it’s super fun.
Add the thick, almost physical presence of a nightly cover of intense, absolute pitch-black darkness where the moon and stars are snuffed out by thick storm clouds; add a massive beach with no one on it anywhere; add a low tide that extends down to the shallowest point of our entire visit; add the bright illumination of headlamps that light only a small circle before you, making the inky blackness of the night seem that much thicker, that much darker, that much more ominous; and add a mist pounded up by the sea spray that’s so heavy you can blow smoke rings through it and… well… the fun is taken to a whole new level!
The evening began with an early, delicious dinner at Kuma, a Japanese restaurant in Tofino. There we had Tuna Tataki (seared jig caught local albacore tuna, ponzu, ginger & green onion), a Spicy Salmon Bowl (local, wild, sashimi salmon, spicy teriyaki sauce, daikon, pickled ginger, avocado and rice) and The “Bear” Tuna (a fun take on tuna tartare, served with avocado purée and toasts). The food there was unbelievably good… see what I mean about Tofino food? What a way to begin the evening. (Even if saké isn’t for me… I put it right up there with drinking vodka in Russia and iced vodka in Finland! Blech.)
As we left Kuma, the tide was retreating and darkness was falling. The stage was being set for some serious fun!
By the time we got back to our place, storm clouds were moving in, darkness was cloaking the shore, and the tide was well out, leaving waves of hard packed sand in its wake. The stage was set for some fun adventuring. So we put on our long johns and wool layers for warmth, covered them with rain gear, donned our headlamps and merino toques, and headed out to explore. Let the treasure seeking begin….
Can you see the wee little crab hiding under the anemone, exposed when I touch the anemone and it rolls back in the video below?
And what I don’t have for you here, visually, was the most fun part of the evening! It was the reason for the early dinner… and the low tide excursion into darkness. We had to time the tide just right… and if you know anything about tides, you know they shift around a lot and do not happen at the same time each day, or withdraw to the same depth each time. This particular night was going to have the lowest tide of our entire visit.
We went to a narrow cove… a crevasse, really… that at high tide is completely impenetrable, thrashing as it is with tremendously powerful waves and coughing up great, billowing, pillow-sized tufts of sea foam.
At the very lowest of tides… our purpose on this particular night… you can get in there, scramble on the rocks relatively safely (in a brief window of time) and explore a hollowed out cave with a rocky ceiling covered in acorn barnacles, and shimmy between the cracks in the rocky cliff. It’s a fun adventure. A 4-paws-on-the-rock kind of experience that is super fun, even if you get so caught up in it that you get soakers! The rocks there are ever so black, and with the star and moonlight obscured by heavy clouds, creating a thick darkness, like a physical presence, on this particular night … well… that just added immeasurably to the fun of the adventure. It was eerie, and exciting and oh so much fun.
And we almost missed finding our Seashack at the end of it all! It was that dark… we walked by it a few times, even with the lights we’d left on, missing its seaside gate completely. There’s something about a night that’s so dark, and a landscape that’s so immense, that you lose all sense of perspective, all sense of direction (if not for the sea and the rain-forested shore bounding us in). Soon though, we were relaxing beside the fire, warming up, drinks in hand. Another wonderful adventure added to the ever-growing Tofino list.
This marks the end of our Tofino adventures for now… until next time! And there will be a next time! Guaranteed.