Sea Caves next to Chesterman Beach – worth exploring

Sea Caves next to Chesterman Beach – worth exploring

Rosey Bay basalt formation Tofino Chesterman Beach

Chesterman Beach in Tofino provides many large and small treasures to explore. I’ve already told you of my love for its rock pools whose abundance shows itself at low tide. And as the tides roll back in Rosie Bay (the bay next to Chesterman Beach), they expose another feature in which to wander with wonderment. Rosie Bay is home to some stunning basalt sea caves.

Rosie Bay sea cave Tofino Chesterman Beach

Hundreds or thousands of years in the making, sea caves are formed by the relentless energy of waves sweeping their way over rocks day after day, physically eroding tiny bits, till eventually cracks form and widen, pieces of rock fall off and the hollowing out process of making a cave begins. At Rosie Bay, we have the privilege of seeing the results many many years on – caverns and a long fissure – stretching back from the sea into the land.

Rosie Bay sea cave Tofino Chesterman Beach

As you walk through the caves and into the fissure, shiny black backs of mussels will flank your shoulders along with any other creatures having strong enough suckers to stay attached to their home on the walls as the sea pulls right out and down to sand level. See what else you can find while you are there.

Rosy Bay sea cave walls Tofino Chesterman Beach

For an extra bit of enjoyment, if you are lucky enough to be in Tofino when the moon graces the night sky at low tide, the reflective basalt cave walls will provide you a magical viewing of the caves.


Last big thing to remember is check the tide timetable carefully to be certain you are out of the cave and its recesses before the tide turns. The tide will travel in fairly quickly to give those soon-to-be-happy black mussels their next generous dose of seawater hydration and you will want to be on dry land.

Rediscover Winter Quiet

Rediscover Winter Quiet

Tofino beach storm

Winter quiet is beautiful. It is deep, hibernatory, and refreshing to our inner being. And Tofino is one of the best places to rediscover it.


The winter weather, whether it be crisp or damp, the surge of the surf, the storms, and the early setting of the sun make Tofino a less frequent choice in winter by some. For other vacation seekers, it is the best time in the year to visit.


In winter Tofino becomes more like its small village self again. Coffee line-ups disappear, and some restaurants and retailers take a well earned rest, leaving emptier, tranquil streetscapes that roll out towards water. Everything winds down, including road, water and air traffic, and all-around noise levels diminish. As the leaves have fallen and gone back to the earth to nourish it, it is an invitation for you to renew and revitalize the soil of your own life.


One of my favourite Irish poets and philosophers, John O’Donohue, says in his work To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings, “Within the grip of winter, it is almost impossible to imagine the spring. The gray perished landscape is shorn of color. Only bleakness meets the eye; everything seems severe and edged. Winter is the oldest season; it has some quality of the absolute. Yet beneath the surface of winter, the miracle of spring is already in preparation; the cold is relenting; seeds are wakening up. Colors are beginning to imagine how they will return. Then, imperceptibly, somewhere one bud opens and the symphony of renewal is no longer reversible. From the black heart of winter a miraculous, breathing plenitude of color emerges.


The beauty of nature insists on taking its time. Everything is prepared. Nothing is rushed. The rhythm of emergence is a gradual slow beat always inching its way forward; change remains faithful to itself until the new unfolds in the full confidence of true arrival. Because nothing is abrupt, the beginning of spring nearly always catches us unawares. It is there before we see it; and then we can look nowhere without seeing it.”


The winter air in Tofino is filled with a majestic loudness – a sound that can be heard from Tofino Hummingbird Cottage – a sound that is soothing even in its volume – the roar of winter waves from Chesterman Beach. I recently took a chance presented by a short lull in bookings to stay in Tofino Hummingbird Cottage and experience what my guests experience. The soundscape, the cozy darkness of the bedrooms, and the hearth of the fire generated great peace in my soul and being.


The peacefulness I have felt staying in Tofino Hummingbird Cottage was also enhanced by the enveloping winter quiet. The animals have mostly begun hibernating by the beginning of December, squirrels have filled their winter larders, and the birds are mostly quiet too, gathering what sustenance they can find and conserving energy till they burst into spring melodies again. Even the cedar trees that surround the Cottage feel like a gentle, peaceful and quiet hug around me as I gaze out the window, sitting by the fire and sipping a warm tea.


This is the perfect place and time – Tofino Hummingbird Cottage in winter – to relax in its peace and rediscover the hidden joy of winter quiet to revitalize the soil of your life.

Holiday Time in Tofino – improve your mental wellness 5 ways

Holiday Time in Tofino – improve your mental wellness 5 ways

at the sea in Tofino

What makes vacations and holidays so good for our mental wellness is that we make a space, a gap in time, an opportunity, to express ourselves more fully and sometimes we also spend this time with others.


Holidaying in Tofino is particularly good for mental wellness. Here are some of the ways:


1. Vacations give us time

Perhaps time is one of the greatest gifts in a vacation. Time feels so compressed for many of us nowadays and opening it up can mean, for example, having an unrushed occasion to make a meal with companions or feel unhurried when dining out – a wonderful gift to ourselves and those we are with.


2. Holidays lessen stress

Even though adjusting to new environments can be stressful for some, for most of us the adventure of new places to go and new activities is stimulating, encouraging our bodies to release happy hormones. Going away means we leave most of the stresses of home behind us, and Tofino Hummingbird Cottage is a particularly restful place to unwind. It is quiet, except for the sound of sea surf and birds.


3. Vacations give time to be with friends and family

We often spend vacation time with friends or family that enrich our lives, while we enrich theirs and create lifelong memories. Or, for those of us that replenish ourselves in solitude, we gratefully take that treasured open space in time alone to recharge.


4. Holidays make us happier

We all know that holidays almost always make us happier. Even research groups say so; they have found that holidays lessen depression and can improve heart health. Holidays give us a space and a time to look inward, set new goals and dream dreams. Being away from our norms and encountering strangers who may act and live differently can help us evaluate and reset priorities in our own lives.


5. Vacations can broaden and strengthen us

Encountering unforeseen obstacles on vacation, such as with making decisions on where to eat, can force us to bring out our creative side to make a plan. This strengthens our capability to deal with adversity in the future. And if you visit Tofino and decide to learn to surf or stand-up paddleboard while you are here, that will certainly broaden your experience and increase your neuroplasticity by learning a new skill. The great news is you take those new strengths home with you.


Taking a vacation can be one of the best uses of our time. Time is our most precious commodity; we all have 24 hours in a day. It is how we spend it that determines the quality of our life and the degree of our mental wellness.



Rock Pools in Tofino

Rock Pools in Tofino


The ocean’s largest inhabitants, such as whales, sharks and dolphins, are often the creatures that capture our imagination when we think of that vast mysterious body of water. Its smallest indwellers, though, are more than worthy of investigation. They will provide you with a nature experience steeped in diversity, wonder and almost as many colours as the rainbow.


Take a wander to the rock pools in Chesterman beach, Tofino, kneel down, get close, watch for a while and enjoy a whole world in a tiny puddle of water. Little fish may swim by, a crab may suddenly appear from under the sand and disappear again. And if you see a conical shell with protruding legs scuttle by, it is probably a hermit crab. They take over abandoned shells as portable dwellings to protect their vulnerable bodies.


Clinging to the sides of the rocks you will find tightly packed rows of adaptible blue-purple mussels, who are quite happy to remain there whether the tide is in or out – just imagine spending half your day baking in the sun and dry air and the other half with waves breaking over your head! Barnacles are there too, little craggy white shell-like edifices that are actually related to crabs. Watch where you put your feet around them, though, they are sharp!


Prettiest and most colourful, probably what most of us hope to see, are anenomes, sea urchins and sea stars. Thankfully, these are all usually plentiful in Tofino. Sea urchins’ empty green round shells are sometimes seen lying on the beach, with their spines long gone. If you see one with pretty red spines still on it, be sure not to stand on it, as it may still be alive and its spines will hurt your foot like a barnacle will. If you very gently touch one of the spines with your finger, though, you will do one another no harm.


Another interesting interaction could be to very gently touch a beautiful waving green sea anenome. Feel how soft its tentacles are to a human hand. To be kind to them, though, only do this once or twice because when you touch them, they think they are about to get some food and will contract their tentacles to eat.


And lastly, there is no need to worry about finding the most loved rock pool dweller of them all. You are sure to see an orange, purple, red or pink sea star in Tofino as its rock pools are home to forty different species of starfish. And if you see one with a limb missing, there is no cause for sadness, they are blessed with an ability to regenerate their limbs.


Have fun seeing how many different and wonderful creatures you can find in Tofino’s rock pools. Can you find one we haven’t mentioned here? We left some out on purpose, as a surprise.


Dawn Chorus

Dawn Chorus


The best healing is found in nature and nature’s sounds can bring profound healing.


Do you like music? If you like to rise after the sun does, then enrich your life by setting your alarm for the pre-dawn, even if that means around 5:00 am in the spring and summer and your treat will be to hear a whole bunch of symphonies played at the same time – arising from the miniature voice boxes of our small yet powerful friends, the birds. Their sweet, enthusiastic and vibrant dawn chorus is a most soul-cheering way to start your morning. The chorus lasts several hours so you might still catch some of it if you rise a little later.


If you are at Tofino Hummingbird Cottage you will probably not need an alarm as the dawn chorus is loud enough to sing you awake.


Songbirds sing as part of their breeding process, so the most complete version of the chorus is heard in Spring, when all of them join in. The reason they sing so early in the morning is that it is still too dark for them to find food and too early for predators to see them, so it matters not how loudly they sing.


As you tumble out of bed onto the deck of Tofino Hummingbird Cottage in the chilly air before the sun’s rise, the first ‘bugle’ of the chorus you will hear is the robin, singing its piercing, long and short-noted song. In the next half hour it will be joined by many species. Song sparrows belt out a particularly cheery many-noted melody and if you manage to catch sight of one, observe how much effort it puts into its song; head thrown back, trembling throat and vibrating body. The ratio of large volume to small body size is astonishing and delightful.


Make your day! Get up to hear the dawn chorus.

Retreat and Reunion with Nature

Retreat and Reunion with Nature

I often refer to Tofino Hummingbird Cottage as a place of retreat. ‘Retreat’ is an interesting word. To retreat from something can imply withdrawing from it or even a type of surrender.

Considering how we were originally created to live, perhaps city dwellers have long ago retreated to live life in a city – succumbing to disconnect from the trees, water, sunshine and fresh air that have embraced and nurtured humans for all but the last few of our 200,000 years on this planet.

So if, as urban peoples, we want to reconnect with the things we are no longer close to, instead of ‘retreat,’ maybe we should use the word ‘reunion.’

Spending time in Tofino Hummingbird Cottage and Tofino brings us reunion – with our inner selves, with nature, with our loved ones, with our purpose, and with the peace and renewal that form the foundation of everything that makes us truly happy.

When you’re sitting on the beach, feeling the warm sun in your face and maybe watching a sand crab or oyster catcher scuttle by, past and future tend to disappear. There is only now, and now is good. This is where you need to be. This is where we all belong.