Expansive Long Beach near Tofino, the longest stretch of surf sand on Vancouver Islands west coast, is a scenic year round destination perfect for surfing, boogie and skim boarding, kayaking, dog walking, picnicking and storm watching.
It is suggested that you wade in protected shallow areas only. There are no guards on duty at any time, and as the sign says, there are dangerous currents at Long Beach.
On my first visit in 1994, with my infant child, it was foggy – even more so than on this day. The tide was extremely low – the sand seemed to stretch out into the ocean for miles.
I decided to carry my baby out into the fog, thinking it would be nice to put my foot in the ocean water, if I could find it (idiotic!).
It was grey, the fog was low and heavy, and before long I could not tell the difference between land and sky. I decided I needed to turn back and realized I didn’t know which direction I came from. I was entirely shrouded in a thick mist that covered the shoreline as well.
I circled and panicked. I tried to find my way back to shore but couldn’t. I didn’t even know which direction I was facing, I couldn’t find my foot prints – they had melted back into the sopping sand.
I was now exhausted from my walk and from carrying my infant – and I was scared. What if the tide came in and overtook me? I couldn’t swim. So I started yelling for help.
Someone heard me through the fog and tried to direct me back to shore. The problem was that the sound of his voice was bouncing and echoing off of the emptiness and reflecting in the mist.
He and a few friends grabbed some ropes from their vehicles, tied them together, anchored the (now very long) rope to some driftwood on shore and headed out into the disorienting mist to find me.
After what seemed like an hour yelling back and forth, we found each other. My baby was cold, wet and hungry – her clothes had been acting like a sponge for the time we were lost on the ocean floor. Poor little thing.
But we were ok, and an important lesson was learned. Never head out into the mist at low tide! I was fortunate these gentlemen were on the beach at all, let alone willing to assist me.
I do have photos of this time lost in the Pacific, which I will eventually locate and post.
Extreme tides, thick fog and strong currents are not the only elements of concern – being the located on the outer edge of Canada and facing the wrath of the incredible storms of the Pacific – Long Beach is also a potential Tsunami victim.
Evacuation route signs can be found all along the Pacific Rim Highway.
I thought it was interesting that the signs here are exactly the same as the Tsunami signs in Thailand. Obviously they are standardized, much like the stop sign – a fact I did not expect.
There are a few islands that you can walk to when the tide is low, and though many people do it, almost an equal amount get trapped on the islands where the current is strongest, and are forced to wait out the tidal change – or risk drowning.
Personally, after the experience I just related, I am not messing with the incredibly powerful nature at Long Beach – and I would recommend you don’t either.
Though it does get sunny and warm, on most of my visits the beach has been cool and grey. That shouldn’t deter you from visiting though, as there is much else to do besides sun tanning.
Find yourself a silver dollar, hike the expansive seashore, snap a couple photos, check out the incredible driftwood – some HUGE trees fallen during storms.
Experience the variety of sea life that washes up to the beach. Clams and crabs, seaweed and shells – there is plenty of action right at the shoreline, and if it is foggy out – stay close to it!