Ocean Village Resort Cabins – Tofino British Columbia (BC) Travel Info

Thing Learned 1: If the ‘special rate’ says ‘Storm Watching Special’ then you should expect a storm… a really big one.

Thing Learned 2: Even ‘pretty areas’ have flaws… Tofino poses its’ own version of danger, much like the movie Fatal Attraction. Just beneath the surface, there can be a monster. In Tofino’s case, it is the Cascadia Earthquake fault. If it erupts you can expect a really, really, really big one.

Just to remind you about the Fatal Attraction movie, the video trailer is at the bottom of this posting.

This review is about (or abooot if you are Canadian) Tofino British Columbia (BC) and the Ocean Village Resort cabins. There is a lot to like about Tofino and this resort – like the view below.

But there are a few things you need to know before you go.

Just Where Is Tofino Anyways?

It is that little red dot on the west side of Vancouver Island. If you want to get-away, well you are way, way away.

The Ocean Village Resort is about a 4.5-hour drive (unless my wife is driving you) from Victoria, BC, or about 3 hours from Nanaimo, BC. If you are driving from Seattle, including ferry times, plan on an 8-hour drive. But there is a bit a good news for the long trip – the drive isn’t just awesome, it is, doubly awesome. There are winding roads, waterfalls, creeks, rivers, lakes, and lots of trees.

OK, Now Let’s Look At The Location A Bit More Closely

Tofino is located at the end of a peninsula so there is just one way in and one way out.

That location is both good and bad. The good is that it is quiet, laid back (imagine Berkeley in the late 60’s before it really was Berkeley having a love child with the ‘island time’ of Hawaii before Elvis invaded it). It is mostly a young town, with people in hiking boots, down vests and wool hats who all love the outdoors.

A Few Tofino Shopping Tips

If you are driving in from the US, you can bring food, but just recognize that the Canadian Customs doesn’t allow some foods or plants (or guns for that matter). But for many readers, the item that you will have to pay most attention to is the amount of alcohol you can bring with you. About 40oz of liquor can be brought into Canada from the US is the current limitation.

Tofino has a local co-op grocery store. It is nicer than you might expect a somewhat remote Canadian co-op to be. There is the fair share of barefoot, shredded-jean wearing, dreadlocks hanging under a wool beanie, down vest covered, twenty-something shoppers.

If you are a shop-local person, you can ignore this suggestion. The prices in the co-op store are reasonable (for a co-op store), but you can also stop at the Walmart in Port Alberni (if it isn’t beneath you or against your principles to shop there), just about an hour before you get to Tofino.

Bonus Tip: There are a number of Costco stores (well, three) on Vancouver Island. If you are a member you should visit. We visited the Victoria Costco on the way back to the ferry. Next time we may stop there on our way to Tofino instead (I know, I know, it is so American to shop at a US store while in Canada). They often have different products (my wife bought quite a few). Note that you can not use your US debit or credit card, but you can pay cash or write a US based check.

So, What’s So Bad About Tofino?

There is the little, itty-bitty nuisance called the Cascadia Fault. Cascadia makes the San Andreas fault look like a high school football player trying to play in the NFL. The Cascadia earthquake will be almost 30 times more energetic than the San Andreas fault. And, as a bonus, it generates a very large tsunami.

This Cascadia tsunami is estimated be about the same size as these two recent megaquakes:

  • 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, which had a moment magnitude of 9.1–9.3 and
  • March 11, 2011, off the Pacific coast of Japan, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake produced a tsunami 33 feet

Oh yeah… did I mention that if it is a 9.0+ quake that the ground will shake for three to six minutes. That is how you know it is the big one.

It is not only the ‘big one’ there is a ‘slow slip’ going on as well. Read more about the ‘slow slip’ earthquakes.

Wait, There Is More – Pay Attention

You know the drill, “There are 5 exits aboard this plane: 2 at the front, 2 over the wings, and one at the rear of the plane.” You no longer pay attention. Well, here is something where you should pay attention.

The location of the emergency exits is different from one aircraft to another. In Tofino, there is only one emergency exits near you.

The Cascadia fault plane is so close to land that you have 14 minutes to get to higher ground before up to an estimated 60-foot wave hits. You won’t have time to drive out of town so your strategy is go ‘up,’ at least as high as 60 feet. In case you aren’t good with numbers, that means forget repacking your suitcase – just grab heavy shoes, warm clothing and your cell phone and drive to your safe spot… assuming the roads haven’t been decimated.

Here is the tsunami evacuation map for Tofino. The ‘green areas’ below are areas with greater than 60 feet in elevation. You have 14 minutes to get there.

For those of you who enjoy the animated version – here is a video from CNN.

The Cascadia subduction zone erupts every 300 years or so and the last eruption was in 1700. You do the math.

A bonus article… I found a blog posting by a person with a PhD. in Structural Geology (the study of movements in the Earth’s crust, e.g. faults), who happened to live in Tofino at the time. She ultimately left so she could be ‘safer.’ The article is entitled You’re all gonna die. (Whatever). I read it a couple of times, including the comments. My wife ‘pooh-poohed’ it. You can make your own call.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program… I really liked Tofino.

Wow, Way To ‘Reframe’

When you go on vacation you typically nice weather, blue skies and stress-free days.

As you can see, above, Tofino ‘sticks out’ into the Pacific Ocean as makes it very susceptible to all storms from the north, south or west. So how do you market that susceptibility? They offer ‘Storm Watching Special’ rates during the ‘Storm Watching Season’ which is five months long (Oct 10 – Mar 9). Smart of them to reframe the weather.

Having said that, we went in October to see a storm (see, reframing works). Well, we got one. More on that in a bit.

The Location Is Near Town

Ocean Village Resort is located on MacKenzie Beach, at the northern edge of Pacific Rim National Park, about 3 kilometers (a couple of miles) south of Tofino, BC.

The Cabins And Amenities

Swimming Pool: A nice 20 x 50-foot indoor, heated, saltwater pool plus a large adjacent hot tub. An outdoor hot water shower is the perfect spot to take off your wetsuit after a surf.
Parking: Each cabin has on-site parking for two vehicles.
Laundry Facilities: Wash and dry clothes at their coin-operated laundry.
Outdoor Barbecue: A large, common outdoor barbecue area overlooking the beach.

The Beach

Classic hard sand beach – good for people, bikes, crows, seagulls, seaweed, and dogs.

Two Paws Up

Ocean Village Resort has dog-friendly rooms. Your dog(s) will love the beach as there is just the right amount of two-paw hopping, tail-in-the-air wagging, ball chasing and butt-sniffing going on.

If You Enjoy Carpal Tunnel You Will Enjoy Endlessly Hitting Reconnect To Attempt To Revive Your Internet Connection.

First, I didn’t see the ‘fine print’ on their website until after I arrived – ” Wireless Access: We offer free WiFi access to all guests. (As with anywhere in Tofino, our wireless signal is not always the strongest.)”

Here is what you can expect: Reconnect… reconnect… reconnect.

Hmm, I think, “Maybe there is a pattern here.” I go to the front desk and say, “I am going to be the first one ever to say this, your internet is crap.”

“I’ve heard that before,” she says. But, “Fiber is coming to town.” Pause. Then she says, on a somewhat brighter note (?), “It used to be worse.”

But Is It Safe?

Tofino is a small town, everyone knows everyone and so most of the crime is pretty minor. A stolen surfboard, petty theft in the grocery store and the like. There is quite a gang element though between the West Side Crows and the Uptown Gulls. Regardless, lock your car and hotel doors as a reasonably smart person would do.

A Few Things To Be Aware Of…

It’s Canadian, Eh? The Currency

The Canadian currency is affectionately called the Loonie. There is an exchange rate, meaning that sometimes the US dollar is worth a lot more than a Canadian dollar and vice-versa. In October of 2016, one US dollar bought $1.31 in Candian dollars.  Put another way, if you had a hotel reservation for $100 (CDN) per night, that cost, in US dollars is $76.22.

Your Phone Won’t Work. Your Pandora Won’t Work. Your Netflix Won’t Work.

Hey, it is Canada.  Once you cross the border your phone won’t work, Netflix won’t work and Pandora won’t work. Plus there are no TV’s in the rooms at Ocean Village Resort. Plan accordingly. IU brought movies with me.

It’s Canadian, Eh? The Metric System

Be prepared to pay for gas in liters, measure waves in meters and speed in kilometers per hour. To convert kph to mph, multiply the kph by .6 (you can use the actual factor, .62, but that is too much mental math to perform while driving). In example, if the speed limit sign says 100 KPH, the speed you should be driving is 62 MPH, or if you are using the simple version, .6 times to KMH, or 60 MPH)

Thank Gawd at least the Canadians don’t use a metric system for their time zone… everything else is metric.

No Power To The People

We had a wind storm. The power went out for all the cabins. I guess that is what we paid for – storm watching…

We missed the main event the day after we left. It was just before the remnants of the Tofino Typhoon Songda October 2016 storm

In Short

I would go back – but I would know how to get to the nearest high ground..

In case you require more information on Tofino:

In case you require more information on the Cascadia subduction zone:

Fatal Attraction trailer