Gran Canaria is already a favourite getaway for many Europeans. Year-round sunshine, virtually no rain and an abundance of home comforts have the tourists flocking in by the thousands. But Drift discovered a far better reason to visit - literally hundreds of hidden surf spots that can be yours alone to enjoy all year round.

Drift catches up with Portuguese genius photographer Hugo Silva, owner of www.undonephotos.com. Born on the south coast of Portugal in Portimão, Hugo now finds himself plying his trade near Lisbon in Carcavelos. His challenge has always been to capture the perfect swell, that one wave or the big manoeuvre.

Mark Sankey and Alexa Poppe discover Autumn's aquatic gifts in a late September road trip spanning France and Spain. Words: Mark Sankey. Photos and Design: Alexa Poppe

The annual Fish Fry on Australia's Gold Coast gives shapers a non-commercial, non-competitive opportunity to come together and share ideas in a shameless celebration of the fabulous fish. Words: Tommy Leitch Photos: Jamie Bott

Bing Copeland was a pioneer of the modern surf industry. In his excellent new retrospective, ‘Bing Surfboards – Fifty Years of Craftsmanship and Innovation’, Paul Holmes discovered what makes Bing tick. Words: Bing Copeland & Paul Holmes Photos: Courtesy of Bing Copeland

When legendary longboard designer Bob McTavish came to Devon recently as part of TIKI's international shaper tour, Chris Preston couldn't resist the opportunity to quiz him about the technicalities of board design... Photos: Jamie Bott

Homeless at fourteen, prison by eighteen, Jonny Gibbings endured a violent and difficult start to life, resulting in being illiterate until late teens. Now a published author Jonny talks to Drift and shares his lifelong passion for Surf.

Follow cameraman Mike Lacey as he takes on Hawaii. An amazing collection of photos from the spiritual home of surfing. www.mikelaceyphotography.co.uk

Rebel wave riders on a mission to enlighten the Western world to the true culture of the Middle East, blakkbox redefine the notion of surfers as beach bums who only care about the next wave. Photos: Cole Estrada & Anthony Allen

Two of the most influential people on the surf-inspired art scene, Jeff Raglus and Gerry Wedd have been making their mark on everything from surfboards to teapots since the 1970s. Thirty years later, they're still as productive as ever... Words: Tommy Leitch Photos: Jamie Bott

Ireland's fierce and unpredictable breaks have been valued by its home-grown big wave riders for some years now, but competition has been a long time coming. All that changed with the inaugral Mullaghmore Tow Session 2011. Conn Osborne got in harm's way to steal a photo essay.


West Coast Wilderness


May 05, 2010 | Words By: SWAP

tofino-openerNestled on the west coast next to the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Tofino is home to a small community with a rich cultural heritage, grounded in their amazingly beautiful surroundings.

It’s refreshing to visit towns like this – it seems that everyone you meet is into the outdoors, and fishing, surfing, hiking and yoga play a big part in most people’s lives here. And because their leisure time is so dependent on their natural surroundings, locals look after more than just their own backyards. The town has even introduced bylaws that minimise the colonisation of the town by global brands, so hopefully this means the likes of Starbucks and McDonalds will be kept firmly at arm’s length for years to come.

tofino-canadaThe road into town is long and winding; we meandered through snow-capped peaks and passed bright blue lakes before reaching the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve – 511 square kilometres of rugged coastline and dense forest. Tofino nestles at the northern end of Long Beach, the most accessible of the Reserve’s three sites. The surf here is predominantly beach break waves; recognisable spots include Chestermans (which hit the global surf scene when local pro Pete Devries took the top spot here at the recent WQS O’Neill Cold Water Classic), Cox Bay and sections of Long Beach itself, depending on the swell and winds.

tofino-canada2The isolation, minimal transport routes and relatively long drive from serious civilisation make Tofino a weekend destination at best for the city crowds of Victoria and the surrounding suburbs. Saying that, surfing’s pretty massive in Canada, and as I paddled out on my first morning at Chestermans, I was greeted by a relatively large crowd already in the water.

If you’ve got a boat and some local knowledge, there’s no doubt that a bit of seabound exploration would turn up some secret spots, and with literally miles of beach and shifting peaks, it’s always possible to find a quiet place to surf. It’s the kind of area where you have to keep checking the banks along the bay – similar to the south of France, where certain spots are susceptible to tidal changes and alterations in sand banks – so a taking a little time to explore really pays off. Tofino is exposed to huge, relentless swells, and as a result there is usually somewhere to find a wave. Water temperatures drop to around 9-10C during the winter, and remain relatively low year-round, which tends to deter the less hardy surfer, but I never found it that traumatic. A good winter suit’s all you really need.

tofino-canada1I hit on a nice little left, breaking off a finger of rock, that wedged up in the corner and peeled its way onto the beach. I had the peak all to myself, or so I thought. It was only my girlfriend waving frantically from the beach that alerted me to the grey whale calming navigating around the rocks next to me.

Despite the rugged beauty of this area and the potential for quality waves, development in Tofino has remained relatively controlled, and a little solitude still exists on this portion of the wild west coast. Cold water might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but perhaps that’s a good thing.

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