Chesterman Beach - Tofino & Clayoquot Sound Trails
Chesterman Beach is a wonderful 3 kilometre white sand beach just a 10 minute drive from Tofino. It lays just outside of Pacific Rim National Park and as a result has a local feel that you don't get from most other beaches. From the wind battered houses that line the beach though shrouded in the coastal forest, to the magnificent Wickaninnish Inn sprawling to the ocean, Chesterman Beach is a beautiful beach oasis. The Wickaninnish Inn is a fabulously luxurious resort that ranks as one of the top resorts in Canada and sits at the far end of the beach.
Chesterman Beach appeals to everyone. Surfing, walking, relaxing, storm watching, playing and beach exploring are all popular here. In the spring and summer you may even spot whales passing by. Frank Island sits out from the middle of the beach and during low tide can be reached on foot. Chesterman Beach derives its name from one of the many colourful characters of the regions past. John Chesterman was one of the early non-native settlers to the region and acquired land along this beach a century ago.
You quickly realize that Chesterman Beach is a favourite for the local surf schools. All year-round you will spot surfers of all abilities out in the consistently surf-able waves. The natural separation of Chesterman Beach by Frank's Island, allows for differing surf conditions north and south. Depending on the wind direction and tides will partly dictate where surfers will gravitate to.
Chesterman Beach is one of the few beaches that is off the radar. There is no big yellow gate and sign off the highway directing you. It's a quiet street, really a cobweb of streets, off the highway. This neighbourhood is beautifully characteristic of what happens when you put modern houses in a rainforest. Everything is ridiculously overgrown and wet. Always wet. Extravagantly expensive houses with absurd fences. You can barely see the fences through the jungle of rainforest. Here you can see the capitalisation of Tofino. It seems every house is a Bed and Breakfast, or some other accommodation.
Directions to Chesterman Beach
Finding Chesterman Beach is pretty easy. About 5-10 minutes from Tofino watch on your right for Chesterman Beach Road. Turn here and watch for one of two trailhead parking lots. Both are small and convenient. The three minute walk to the beach is easy, flat and short. As you meander through the rainforest B & B metropolis, you come to a very indistinct trailhead to Chesterman Beach. The sign and map board identify it. Standing in the overgrown and small parking lot. Really an edge or large sidewalk. Room for maybe five cars, you get the impression that this trailhead is mostly just used by locals.
More Trails & Beaches Near Chesterman Beach
Radar Beach is one of the innumerable places that makes this part of the world so amazing. It is difficult to get to due to it having an unmarked trailhead, steep and muddy trail, and considerable climbing and crawling above and below fallen trees. Where the other popular beach trails in the area have elaborate and expensive boardwalks and stairs, Radar Beach does not. And hopefully never will. This difficult trail ensures Radar Beach as a secluded paradise in the midst of the sometimes crowded and chaotic, nearby beaches. The unmarked hiking trail begins at the end of the Radar Hill parking lot. Indiscreetly, a well used trail disappears steeply down towards the ocean, and within minutes you find yourself clinging to a rope as you ascend steeply. The trail is easy to follow in the daytime, however, you would have great difficulty keeping to the trail after dark. Radar Hill should not be missed while visiting Tofino. The views are beautiful, one of the few places in Tofino where you can see where you are. Usually you are engulfed in trees or down by the water. From Radar Hill you rise above everything. This is not really a hiking trail, but rather a short, very scenic, uphill walk to the monument and views. A wonderfully written memorial sits at the top of Radar Hill which describes the harrowing battle during the Korean War that involved the 27th Commonwealth Brigade. Grice Bay is not really a hike but a setting off point for kayakers and boaters. Tofino Inlet, Cannery Bay, Tranquil Inlet, Fortune Channel, Dawley Passage Provincial Park as well as Kennedy River are all attractions for boaters from here. There is a nice boat launch and lots parking. Kayakers frequently depart from here to explore the sheltered waters away from the open ocean out past Tofino. The beautiful trail to Schooner Cove starts just at the top end of Pacific Rim National Park near Tofino. Schooner Cove also sits near the top or northern end of Long Beach which continues south from here for 10 kilometres! Almost immediately you are struck by the enormous trees. Hundreds of years old, these monsters are everywhere along this trail. The Schooner Cove trail and Schooner Cove itself is much quieter and even at times secluded feeling when compared to other Pacific Rim National Park beaches and hiking trails. Long Beach is the wonderfully accessible beach that spans the middle of Pacific Rim National Park for several kilometres. It's the longest stretch of surf swept sand on west coast of Vancouver Island. In fact, if you include Florencia Bay, Wickaninnish Beach, Combers Beach and Schooner Cove with Long Beach, then it is the longest sand dune on Vancouver Island. Surfing, walking and wandering the beach are the main activities here. Winter storm watching and summer sunshine make Long Beach hard to beat. It is popular and huge, so you don't feel crowded even in the busiest of summer days. Storm watching is advertised to off season visitors to Pacific Rim National Park, and for good reason. The Pacific Ocean crashes here with nothing to impede it for thousands of kilometres. The Spruce Fringe Trail in Pacific Rim National Park is located at the edge of Long Beach, 22 kilometres from or 19 kilometres from Ucluelet. The trail begins as gravel then a wonderful boardwalk and then leads to a stunning force of nature. The Krummholz Tunnel is a weather blasted tunnel of trees. Thick and surprisingly dense, this bizarre feature of the Spruce Fringe Trail has a nice information board explaining it and it's wondrous formation.. "Closer to the sea, the trees contort and huddle together against the weather. The ocean's influence has created the spruce fringe but also limits plant growth and form. The Rainforest Trail is a fantastic, deep, dark, wet and wonderful walk through a giant tree forest. There are, in fact, two beautiful 1km rainforest loop trails. One on the ocean side of the highway, the other on the forest side. Both are equally nice and both have an elaborate boardwalk system that at times seems luxurious as it keeps you tidily above the deep, mossy, wet, and chaotic forest floor. For an amazing, jungle-like experience this is the place to go. The forest is deep, wet and massive. Very massive. The wonderful aroma of nature fills your lungs as this incredibly elaborate boardwalk runs along massive nurse logs, huge cedars and an astounding array of young and ancient trees. You come out of this forest in awe of how beautiful this Tofino - Ucluelet stretch of land is. Hiking/walking the Shorepine Bog Trail in Pacific Rim National Park is a surreal experience. As you wander through this weather beaten forest that looks nothing like anything else you've seen in the rest of the park. It is absolutely bizarre. Pacific Rim National Park is almost entirely rainforest. Giant trees, wet, mossy ground, dead and decaying giant trees, laying on the dark, wet forest floor. And yet the Shorepine Bog Trail looks more like a desert. Everything looks blasted by wind, and unexpectedly dry, very dry. The Shorepine Bog Trail is not so much a trail as a continuous boardwalk. This makes it a very easy and relaxing trail that keeps you from damaging the bog beneath your feet as you walk.