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February 2, 2024

Stormwatching in Paradise

by Erin Linn McMullan

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, but about learning to dance in the rain.

Norman Ollestad, Crazy for the Storm.

Why are we so fascinated by storms?

Is it the way stormlight turns the hiłaayił (sky) tangerine while violet łiw̓aḥmis (clouds) muster on the horizon? That exhilarating rush of wind across your skin as it whips the whitecaps into a frenzy while an eagle hitchhikes on a thermal updraft. Positive ions and electrons dancing in the air as that irresistible lure of the ocean calls you to adventure. How a west coast winter storm animates the marinescape is pure kinetic poetry.

Embrace the storm and with it, that deep energetic connection – that synergy with Nature reminding us, Hishuk ish tsawaak, or “everything is one”. From the incandescence of a rare lightning strike illuminating the skyline to the double ƛiniiḥak (rainbow) wrapping the beach in its magic après storm, let it reignite your sense of wonder.

Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway for Valentine’s, a long weekend for BC Family Day or simply taking time for yourself, Indigenous-owned Tin Wis Resort is a stormwatchers’ paradise. Nestled in a protected cove above the dunes where every suite faces oceanfront and ƛaʔuukʷiʔatḥ (Tla-o-qui-aht) have a deep and storied connection to this place, tinwis aka MacKenzie Beach, as stewards since time immemorial. Situated in Unceded Tla-o-qui-aht Territory within Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks, that stewardship is a living legacy.

How do you celebrate the storm?

Here at tinwis, wiiqsi?is (stormy weather) is an invitation to play and everything you need for your winter staycation is right here at your doorstep.

Jump into the ocean and play!

Winter storms and King Tides help create ideal conditions for watersports in these normally calmer waters. Nothing puts a smile on your face like surf stoke, that feeling of euphoria and connection with the infinite sometimes described as an “oceanic feeling”.

Break through to a new level of confidence on the water with surf or SUP lessons from Tofino Paddle Surf. All lessons are available in winter and taught right here in front of the resort or three minutes down the road at Ḥiłwinʔis, (pronounced Hilth-win-is) aka Middle Beach, depending on conditions. Get closer as a couple or a family when you take lessons together.

Or just play. Rent a buoyant saltwater kayak to frolic in the waves. Or grab a boogie board and wetsuit —it’s the perfect way to get in the water, even on the stormiest of days. A fun activity for all the family, boogie boarding can introduce kids to the surf and improve swimming skills.

Explore the beach!

Winter is a season of extremes when low and negative tides, especially near the full Snow Moon on February 24, afford unparalleled access to beachcombing for marine treasures. During negative tides, i.e., tides below zero, you may even be able to walk around the sandy isthmus skimming the rocky headlands between tinwis and Ḥiłwinʔis, (pronounced Hilth-win-is) aka Middle Beach. Bring your gumboots and enjoy splashing through the puddles – it’s part of the fun!

When tides and the creek are high in winter, MacKenzie Beach Road and the High Tide Trail via the boardwalk offer safer travel between these two beaches. No matter the tide level, a gentle reminder to stay aware of rapidly shifting currents and surprise storm surges. Pocket Tofino tide guides are available at the front desk or accessible online.

Warm up in the hot tub

Reward yourself with a post-surf soak. Après-surf or beach walk, the resort’s oceanview hot tub offers a warm and bubbly oasis to relax, reconnect, and witness Nature’s spectacular show.  

Warm up and down at the Fitness Centre

Working out before or after active play is easy with the oceanview Fitness Centre: from cardio-fitness on a treadmill or stationary bike to strength training on weights and stretching out those surf-pounded muscles on a yoga mat.

Cozy up with comfort food at Browns Socialhouse

With its cedar-built dining room, vaulted ceilings, and panoramic ocean view, Browns is an ideal place to cozy up and enjoy the storm, especially for lovers this Valentine’s when you book a Couples Getaway and receive a $75 gift card exclusive to this Tofino location. Plan ahead for the perfect date by calling 250 725 0614 to reserve your romantic lunch or dinner or book online here.

Comfort foods to keep you salivating this season include shareable loaded Nachos or Classic Hot Wings, sampling from their Sushi Bar, and don’t forget to ask for two spoons/forks for decadent desserts like their Oreo® Cookie Jar (whipped cheesecake with crushed cookies) or Super Fudge Brownie. Families will love Browns’ burger options and handhelds like the Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich or Baja Fish Tacos.

Kick back and #socialize for a stormwatcher’s dream scenario during all-day social hour on Social Sundays and Industry Mondays. Enjoy great company, friendly service, and one of the best views on the beach.

Watch the show from your private balcony or patio

Imagine the storm view or colour-saturated sunset from your private balcony in the family-friendly Queen Loft (with a balcony on each of its two floors) or in the Executive Suite Oceanview upstairs. Share the magic as you gaze over the waltzing treetops at an unobstructed view of sky-to-endless sea. Perfect for avid and budding storm photographers.

These luxury suites offer a cozy winter retreat with a flickering fireplace, cooking facilities, and generous bathrooms with lots of elbow room. The Queen Loft can accommodate families of 6. For families up to 4, the Executive Suite features a full kitchen, with a double pullout sofa in the living room, separate King bedroom, and ensuite bathroom with Jack and Jill sinks, a deep soaker tub and separate glassed-in shower.

If your family includes your dog, the Executive Suite Oceanview on the ground floor is pet-friendly. Its walk-out patio offers a sheltered space to enjoy your morning Nespresso® and view the storm. On clearer days, you can quickly join the kids for a game of soccer or football as they run in and out of your home-away-from-home through the sliding glass doors with ease.

Plenty of room to be together and plenty of room to play when tinwis is your backyard.

Celebrate Family Day together

The resort’s lush rolling lawn and natural garden offers an ideal place for kids to play within sight. Outdoor toys like soccer balls, basketballs, and beachballs can be borrowed to enjoy in the backyard or beach, especially when it stretches out at low tide. For younger children, there’s a beachside playground with swings and climbing equipment and easy access for building sandcastles. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, the beachside grills and picnic tables are waiting for your winter picnic.

Looking for rainy day activities to keep the kids engaged? Ask at the front desk for their youth games basket filled with cards, board games, and unforgettable family memories in the making. Or settle in to shelter from the storm in comfort with Netflix® on the flatscreen, cuddling up with soft blankets and snacks.

Gather around a bonfire

The beachside firepits on the dunes overlooking the ocean are ideal for an intimate bonfire for two or a gathering of family and friends. You can purchase firewood at reception or rent a propane fire kit overnight.

On moody or moonlit nights, that dramatic winter sky and ever-mesmerizing ocean will keep you glancing up from the crackling flames and your conversation. See if you can identify the constellations when the clouds clear and the Snow Moon spreads its glow across the water. Nights on the beach are pure bliss.

Bundle up on blustery days

Living on the west coast, you learn to love the rain! Part of the secret is wearing great all-weather gear and layering to keep warm and comfy. To protect against the damp-chill, pack Merino-wool underlayers (shirt, leggings, socks), a waterproof outer layer (rain jacket and pants) over a warm winter jacket, gumboots, and gloves, a toque, and scarf. Remember the old adage: you lose most of your heat through your head, hands, and feet.

Pro beach tip: Bring spares for those wetter days during an “atmospheric river” when you hang the morning’s layer to dry on those convenient hooks in your entranceway, or refresh at the resort’s laundry. 

Kids can play to their heart’s content on the beach in a one-piece Muddy Buddy rain suit as outer layer, along with a good pair of gumboots for splashing through puddles, gloves and a toque, or join you playing in gentler waves in a kid-sized wetsuit, neoprene boots and gloves.

Forgot to pack something? Don’t fret – stores like Storm Light Outfitters, Tofino Fishing & Trading Company, and Tofino Life Clothing all specialize in outerwear, and Tofino Paddle Surf rents wetsuits in every single size.

Winter bonus Načiks (pronounced Na-chiks), aka Tofino, BC experiences some of the mildest seasonal temperatures and was the warmest spot in Canada during a recent cold snap.

What’s on your winter bucket list?

Make the most of this stormy season. Ask our exceptional staff for their best recommendations for local sights and favourite hikes and beaches within the nearby co-managed Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

Come back soon

Looking for the perfect Valentine’s gift? Or to treat yourself? Come back and stay with us this summer for Tofino Wine & Dine 2024 — a two-day celebration of wine and west coast seafood on June 1st and 2nd amidst the natural gardens of this beachfront resort.

You’re always welcome here.

In January and February 2024, book your Winter Staycation at Tin Wis Resort by using the code JOMO to buy two nights and get the third night free: Book Here.

Plan a “Couples Getaway” (2-night minimum) and receive a $75.00 Browns Socialhouse gift card at check in, redeemable only at this Tofino location. Book directly by calling the resort’s reservation desk at 250 725 4445.

Tofino Wine & Dine 2024 Event Information and Tickets Available Here. Reserve your room now from May 31st to June 3rd (2-night minimum). Book Here or by calling the resort. For longer stays, please email:

Guests of Tin Wis Resort enjoy a 10% discount for online bookings at Tofino Paddle Surf year-round. This onsite surf shop has a flexible cancellation policy for stormier weather when lessons may also need to be rescheduled. Book Here.

Learn more about Tla-o-qui-aht place names by visiting the Story Map here and listen to pronunciation for some common words here.