Funny Things Visitors Asked Today

“Is the water swimmable in Tofino?”

Define ‘swimmable’ for me.

Does swimmable mean warm? If so, no, the water in Tofino is not swimmable. It is freezing cold all year round. The water tends to hover between 9 and 11 degrees Celsius here. Only children – who for some strange reason are incapable of feeling cold until they turn purple – are able to tolerate the water for any length of time. Everyone else needs to wear a wetsuit or endure the extreme pain that is the Pacific Ocean

Does swimmable mean void of deadly predators? If so, then no, the water in Tofino is not swimmable. Last year, they found this beauty in the waters of Alberni inlet:

Remember that? Lord, it haunts my dreams. There are also jellyfish, sea lions (which are nice except when they think it’s fun to bite you – not cool), crabs and any number of creepy things in the waters off of Tofino. Also, THESE:

These make me do my creepy creepy creeped out dance. Hundreds of these Humboldt squid washed up on the shores of Tofino two years ago accompanied by schools of herring. I didn’t go in the water after that. For real. They washed up at the beginning of August and I closed up shop as far as swimming of surfing went. Just thinking about getting in the water, I could feel those giant tentacles wrapping around my legs.

Does that not give you the heebie-jeebies? It totally still gets me. Ugh.

So no, if your definition of ‘swimmable’ means void of deadly predators, you would be remiss to swim here.

I should note that those Humboldt squid haven;t been seen since, but that does not help me at all. If it helps you, please go forth and swim in peace. I will not be joining you.

Does swimmable mean that the water is pretty and sparkly with nice waves and sandy beaches? Then yes, the waters of Tofino are swimmable. I personally think these are the prettiest beaches in all the world. Plus, in the summer the waves are nice and moderate, great for kids and beginner surfers. There might not be any palm trees waving in the breeze, but gosh darn it our beaches are nice.Also, we have a variety of beaches from which to choose, each with different characteristics. Want to go surfing? Incinerator Rock at Long Beach, Cox Bay or Chesterman, depending on the swell. Want the prettiest beach for a nice sunset walk? Chesterman is your beach. Want to let your kids run wild with sand castles? Mackenzie or Middle Beach. Want to beat your bongos and camp overnight for free? Stay away from Tonquin your dirty hippie!

Sorry, that was leftover rage from summers fraught with sleepless nights. Tonquin is great for picnics and chilling and even playing bongo drums, just please refrain from doing it at night. Alex needs to sleep or she will come down there and stab your bongo with her kitchen knife.

I personally have a tough time classifying Tofino water as ‘swimmable’ because of my own personal definitions of the term. I grew up on nice warm lakes where the only predators I had to worry about were greasy dudes from Surrey. I also have a healthy fear of the ocean that constantly perplexes Colin, who grew up right here on the west coast.

I told all of this to the nice man on the phone, who listened patiently while I waxed poetic about sharks, giant squid and freezing temperatures.

Not really. What I said consisted of me saying something like “Yes, the waters are completely safe and very swimmable. Bring your wetsuit.”

Do as I say, not as I do, my friends.


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