A quick holiday break to one of our favourite to places to visit, Tofino, British Columbia. You can never go wrong with the weather here – if it’s sunny then it’s just plain beautiful. But when it’s stormy then nature puts on an amazing show with huge crashing waves and painted skies.
Reading up on all the dog friendly things we could do on our trip to Italy, one particular place stood out to us as a ‘must – visit’, the Dog Beach at San Vincenzo, in the Livorno area of Tuscany only one hour south of Pisa.
This little piece of doggy heaven completely caters to its four legged visitors and it’s impressive to see how much thought goes into creating something solely for the dog’s well being and happiness…other countries need to take note. There are dog friendly beaches around the world, but this is on a whole other level with a huge off leash beach, dog events, parasols and loungers to rent for a shady nap and dog treats sold right on the sand.
Unfortunately we missed the beach season by just a few days, so although the beach was open to visit, the services had closed for the season so we couldn’t take advantage of everything Dog Beach had on offer during the summer. Coming from Canada, the temperature still had the heat of a July day, but alas was turning too cool for the sun loving Italians. It was still a fantastic afternoon and the beach was busy with dogs and owners enjoying the Tyrrhenian sea and warm sand.
In the regular season, one side of the beach is set up with bright yellow sun umbrellas with reserved loungers for rent and you can have your dog right next to you or on your sun bed. The other side is an open area that you can bring your own chairs or towels and lay right out on the beach. There is a bar and food right at the entrance and they have items for your dog as well. Doggy ice cream anyone?
Other amenities include: Fresh drinking water, showers (dog and people), agility course, weekly vet visit, monthly dog events, washrooms, easy parking, and direct access to the sea. All that is required from your dog is that they are behaved and show absolutely no aggression towards other dogs or people. Fair enough for such an open area with so many off leash dogs.
Now look at all these happy pups on the San Vincenzo Facebook Page! That’s what going to the beach is all about 🙂
And if you are not in the Livorno area, the dog beach page on the Explore Italian Culture website lists more dog friendly beaches all around Italy, ready for you to take your sand loving dog to! Each one has different regulations, so do a bit of reading before showing up (size of dog, muzzles needed, vaccinations etc…)
Can’t wait for our next trip to visit them all!
*This post is part of our traveling around Italy with our dog. Here are some other dog friendly activities we discovered in Tuscany:
The truth I do not stretch or shove
When I state that the dog is full of love.
I’ve also found, by actual test,
A wet dog is the lovingest.
~Frederic Ogden Nash
An exercised dog is a happy dog so Tofino must be one of the happiest places on earth. The beaches and trails rebalance the mind and body, meeting the needs of a water obsessed Retriever, a trail hogging Terrier, or a beach dawdling Dachshund. There are so many things to enjoy with your canine companion here, and our recent trip to the tip of the Esowista Peninsula brought us to Cox Bay.
At almost 1.5 kilometers long, it’s the perfect dog walk length, with open ocean on one side and thick rain forest on the other. Soaking wet labs can bounce through the waves retrieving sticks while scent hounds can run along the piles or driftwood and all you have to do is walk right down the middle checking out the sand dollars.
The sand is smooth and packed nice and hard so that ball will skirf (new made up word, don’t use it in Scrabble unless you have a fantastic poker face) down the beach for an endless amount of time, giving your ball loving dog a run of ages.
Have a surf hound? Cox Bay is one of the most popular surfing spots in Canada and dogs are not left to pine at home. You will often see a content canine stretched out on the beach at the water’s edge, watching their human play in the ocean and then jumping on them with the warmest of greetings when they return. And they need it, surfing the Pacific at this spot is chilly but boy it looks like fun!
As well as the beach, there are rocks to climb and explore for star fish and other creatures living in the inter-tidal zone. There is a short but very rewarding trail out to Sunset Point with handy benches to stop and soak in the, you guessed it, sunset. And during the day the wave watching here after a storm is magnificent. The photo below was taken at a very safe distance, all a trick of perspective and a longer lens.While exploring the rocks, be careful of anything too slippery or too barnacled for your dog.
Photo opportunities are at their best in Tofino and what a fantastic place to get some great shots of your pooch, no matter your skill or what camera you have brought with you. I’ve included photos from both my iPhone and Canon DSLR in this post.
No matter the camera, make sure to check it out after you come back from the beach, as that Pacific sand gets everywhere. Let it dry and then brush it off or use a blower. Don’t let it stop you from going out and getting some great pics, just be aware of it. And if it’s a cool morning and your lens is fogged up after coming back from snapping your dog running during the Tofino sunrise, all your camera needs is to set be down outside of it’s case in your warm, dry room and will clear right up. Best piece of camera advice? Don’t drop your camera in the ocean, it sucks.
A note on shore birds. They live here because it rocks, but it doesn’t rock to be chased. If you have an inquisitive dog keep them away from the birdies.
This is the ‘wet coast’ so be prepared for rain in the winter months. That’s why I love Tofino, it’s beautiful in the rain so even if the forecast is a wet one, it doesn’t stop anyone from getting outside with their dogs. Storm season is incredible here, big crashing waves and watching the surfers while throwing a ball over and over again. Bring rain boots if you want to walk along the water edge or good waterproof walking shoes for beach walking. Soles with a good grip keep you upright if you are exploring the rocks. A raincoat is a must if rain is in the forecast and the lodges at the beach supply them if you forget yours or you are packing light. And if you have a short haired dog, they may appreciate having one on as well.
The resorts at the north end of the beach supply a plenitude of bio-degradable poop bags, so jam some in your pockets if you forget to bring them on your walk.
There are lovely accommodations right by the beach and there are many lodges, motels and airbnb places throughout the peninsula. (Stay tuned for an up coming post on staying at Pacific Sands Beach Resort). If you aren’t staying right at Cox Bay you can walk, bike or drive over to one of the two public parking lots. One is located across the highway from the tourism information center, and there is a second lot and entrance at the end of Maltby Road. There are handy restrooms located at access points.
Pull on those boots, grab your dog and hit that glorious beach….Check out these links to get you started on your doggy trip to Tofino and Cox bay!