Tofino and Ucluelet located on Vancouver Island in British Columbia is one of our family’s favourite places in the world. The surf is amazing and the local shops and restaurants are superb. But… What really sets this section of the west coast apart is that it is typically not overcrowded and it still seems so wild. We have had beach fires around 7 pm with nobody around in August and have walked the beach on beautiful sunny days only to see a handful of people. That being said the climate can be unpredictable going from rain, fog to sunshine in a few hours. We have been really lucky and have had hardly any rain when we have gone to Tofino. However, we sure were happy to have certain items along when it did start to pour or the fog settled in and the air became chilly. Here are a few essential items for a fun beach day in Tofino with kids:
Wetsuit and booties: Having a wetsuit and booties for your kids makes the beach days so much more enjoyable. A 4/3 wetsuit is recommended year round for the ocean water. With a wetsuit kids can actually enjoy swimming in the cold ocean. Our toddler loved her wetsuit but still could only play in the water for about 30 minutes before taking her out to warm up in a towel and dry clothes. This was when the weather hovered between 15-25 degrees Celsius. Even during the summer months the ocean only changes about 1-2 degrees in temperature. You can rent a wetsuit and booties at a local surf shop or buy one beforehand. Check our MEC or REI for some affordable options.
Boogie Board: Renting a Boogie Board was so fun. Our 2 and half year old loved catching the waves (with lots of help). It was so fun to have an activity to do with her and to teach her how to catch the waves. Make sure to watch out for currents and strong waves. Our toddler only went about as deep as her knees.
Muddy Buddy: This is a full rain suit with a hood. We really love the brand Muddy Buddy because it is a lightweight, completely waterproof suit. It is easy to put on and off because it is one piece. It has lots of space to put layers underneath, including enough room for a winter jacket and even snow pants on really cold day. Our daughter has sat in puddles wearing this suit and comes out dry afterwards.
Rain Boots: We have just been using regular old rain boots but I have seen some fancy types of boots that cinch up outside of rain paints. If I try them someday I’ll let you know how they hold up!!
Pail and Shovel: This is all we really had for toys our whole vacation besides some books and two favourite stuffies for each of our daughters. Both of our girls had their own set and played for hours, literally, in the sand. Our 2 and half year old’s favourite thing was to ‘bake’ a cake and sing happy birthday with stick candles. I think this is because throughout our trip we celebrated 3 birthdays!!
Sunscreen: Sunscreen is a necessity to prevent sunburn on both cloudy and sunny days. Even when it is overcast you still can get a sunburn sitting on the wide open beach.
Bug Spray: There are hardly any mosquitoes on the west coast however there are little black flies that bite! We have never experienced a whole ton of them but still it is nice to protect your little one from the bites. The bites are not really itchy and are not that painful but do cause bleeding. Our 1 year old had 3 bites on her forehead.
Hat and Toque: A hat for the sunny days and a Toque when the wind picks up. A toque was also great for warming up our toddler after she went swimming in the ocean.
Blanket: Something to sit on at the beach is so nice and we found that a blanket was the easiest thing to bring along that could be shared by the whole family.
Towels: A big towel that can absorb the water well is always nice. Instead of bringing a towel for everyone in our little family of four we brought two big towels for the four of us to share. What can I say we like to pack light…..