An Island Getaway Where Storms Are Welcome


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Pacific Rim National Park, littered with driftwood in 2000.

Credit
Adrian Dorst

Every winter, ferocious waves from Japan roll into Vancouver Island’s rugged west coast, pounding its rocky headlands and pristine beaches that hug the quaint towns of Tofino and Ucluelet. While locals have been watching and surviving Mother Earth’s dramatic show for years (winter surfing is big here!), it wasn’t until relatively recently that a new breed of tourists began to arrive: storm watchers. While a rainstorm might put a damper on any island getaway, on Vancouver Island the coastline is at its most dramatic in the moody months of fall and winter. At these four lodgings, visitors pray for rain.

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The Wickaninnish Inn weathers a harsh storm in 2011.

Credit
Sander Jain

The Wickaninnish Inn

Set within a UNESCO biosphere reserve on land that has been inhabited by the First Nations for thousands of years, the Wick, as locals call it, was the first resort back in the mid-’90s to come up with a Storm Watchers package — which is still offered. Rooms and public areas are decorated with natural elements from the area: Cozy furniture in the lounge is made from washed-up driftwood, while beach stones help hold up the books in the library. Throughout the inn are large picture windows angled to maximize the dramatic views of the waves crashing onto Chesterman Beach. Borrow a pair of Hunter Wellies and a raincoat from the concierge and go brave the storm. wickinn.com

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Beachfront suites at Pacific Sands.

Pacific Sands Beach Resort

This surf-in/surf-out Tofino resort is set on 41 acres that wrap around the crescent-shaped Cox Bay and a thousand feet of beach. Check into one of the houses — the four-bedroom Sunset House is perched in the forest right above a private beach on Rosie Bay — featuring fully outfitted kitchens, gas fireplaces in the bedroom and living room, double soaker tubs in bathrooms and outdoor decks with hot tubs. The resort’s new Surf Shack offers rentals and onsite lessons with Surf Sister Surf School. pacificsands.com

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A yurt at Wya Point Resort.

Wya Point Resort

Owned and operated by the Ucluelet First Nation, this resort is tucked into an old-growth forest that was once an ancient village site. It may have the word “resort” in its name, but a stay at Wya is less about hanging out with other guests over a drink at the bar or restaurant — it has neither — and more about truly unplugging. Each of the nine post-and-beam style cabins features a modern kitchen, fireplace, heated floors and Aveda bath products. Rain or shine, you can take a stand-up paddleboard class with one of the young First Nations locals who run the onsite surf shop or hike the nearby Pacific Rim National Park with a naturalist. The resort also features a campground and yurt accommodations, all with private access to Wya Beach. wyapoint.com

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The waves just outside Blackrock Oceanfront Resort.

Blackrock Oceanfront Resort

From its perch on the black rocks above the Pacific Ocean, this Ucluelet resort offers unparalleled views (and a roaring soundtrack to match) when a storm rolls in. The resort’s design fuses granite, glass and steel while modern wood flourishes lend warmth to spaces throughout. Most rooms face the rain forest and ocean, and all feature fireplaces, balconies and kitchens. While it does not have a beach, the property sits on the Wild Pacific Trail, a five-mile rain forest trail network at the edge of the ocean. Borrow rain gear and a trail map from the concierge and take a hike. Then come back for the chef’s special tapas menu paired with Vancouver Island wines and served in the wine cellar — with a view, of course. blackrockresort.com



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