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.
Finding a great dog friendly hotel is like winning a lottery and you will feel especially lucky in the dog welcoming area of Tofino, BC. There are numerous places to stay with your furry traveler and our most recent trip took us to Pacific Sands Beach Resort at Cox Bay (check out my previous post on why Cox Bay is a dog’s paradise). We have been here a few times and it’s always like coming home.
Pacific Sands is on the North end of the serene Cox Bay beach and it has everything you and your dog will need for a fabulous get away: a great range of accommodations (studios, one and two bedrooms and even a house on the rocks), direct access to the beach and trails, only minutes from Tofino, and lots of doggy amenities.
I’ve stayed in a range of rooms and I can recommend them all, it all depends on your preference and budget. The Lighthouse suites are our favourite go to rooms – one bedroom, stocked kitchen (appliances, pots and utensils…not food) balcony or patio and an ocean view. For a special occasion the Beach Houses are the way to go. Gorgeous west coast townhouse style spaces all nestled into the farthest corner against the forest, facing the beach. A few winter’s ago we split a two bedroom Beach House with another couple and their dogs and it was a fabulous Christmas. The management even included a fully decorated tree in the living room. No matter what room you choose, you are mere steps away from the beach.
Dog bowls, biscuits, towels and a lovely note await you in your room. As Tikka and I are always keen to hit the beach at the first possible second, all our stuff gets dropped in a heap inside the door before grabbing a ball and taking off for a walk. The view, the sand the air, the ocean smell… it never disappoints.
Forgot your poop bags because you were in a rush to put your paws in the sand? There are plenty of bag dispensers throughout the property. Arguably the best dispensers with a view. On my way out for walks, I try and grab a few extra as I may be someone’s saviour when a fellow dog owner is asking if there are any going spare in the middle of the beach.
Pacific Sands provides really handy doggy wash up stations along with washdowns for surfers. If needed (do you have a sand roller?) you can get the majority of the sand out of the fur with a full rinse or just wet the feet and then it’s back to the room for a rub down with the provided towels. Wet days are perfect for a dry off in front of the fireplaces in each room, and I’ll put Tikka’s dog bed in front of the fire for the coziest of naps as she dries off.
Sunny days provide lots of patio and balcony dog napping while you catch up on another type of surfing – WiFi is provided in all the rooms. As Tikka is part cat, she is the first to find that warm sunbeam to crash out in after a long run on the beach.
A lot of thought goes towards the environment at this resort has electric car charging stations and an extensive recycling program. And for snacks or pre-made dinners, there is a small grocery in the lobby as well as an extensive choice of board games you can take back to your room.
And don’t forget your camera, no matter the type – There is a photo contest each month (details on their site) and you can win 2 free nights stay plus food!
You can find all the info you need on the Pacific Sands website and it is well worth reading their ‘story’ page and the family history revolving around this resort. No size restrictions and max 2 dogs per room. $40 per dog per stay. You can fly over from Vancouver in an hour and if you have more time, the 3 hour drive is spectacular from Nanaimo with lots of great doggy pit stops along the way.
Can’t wait until my next trip!
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!