Inside My Carry-on: A Duffel for Downtime in Tofino

- Joy Pecknold, Passport blog editor

You needn’t be a TSA agent to look inside the luggage of a fellow traveler. In our “Inside My Carry-on” series, we unzip for the Internet. This time your Passport blog editor is packing for a little escape to the coastal resort town of Tofino, B.C. for some solace and surf.

The unofficial surf capital of Canada, Tofino offers 35 kilometers of beach break with waves fit for both beginners and pros. There is also plenty of other natural splendors—from tall, twisting trees to the bald eagles that inhabit them—to take one’s breath away. And for such a small place (only 1,600-some-odd permanent residents), it’s teeming with top-notch eateries serving fresh local fare. Herewith, a few things I’m bringing with me:

1. Bon Iver’s Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes’ Helplessness Blues – On a sunny day, the drive to Tofino is one of favorites. Once you’ve passed through the small town of Port Alberni (my hometown!) and into the mountains you trade buildings for peaks, trees, rivers and rock faces. There are lots of twists and turns—the stuff of car commercials—but it’s surprisingly calming, perhaps because you’re just focused on the road. To rid myself of city stresses and prepare for nature’s nurturing, I blast the alt-folk of Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes, harmonizing at the top of my register with all the heartfelt falsetto.

2. Native Jimmy Boot – This short rain boot-cum-duck boot by Vancouver-based brand Native does a bang-up job of keeping my feet dry whilst strolling the beach and being featherlight for tromping along wooded trails.

3. Kiehl’s Aloe Vera Biodegradable Liquid Body Cleanser – The ecosystem in Tofino is a precious one, so should I find myself up a creek with mucky hands, this 100% biodegradable liquid is my green way to clean. The product is a joint venture between Kiehl’s and earth-friendly actor Brad Pitt, so every time I use it I picture Pitt in A River Runs Through It.

4. Roxy Syncro 4/3 Wetsuit – The Pacific Ocean in this northern part of the world gets nowhere near lukewarm, so you always need a wetsuit. Around here, the 4/3-thick one I have is considered a summer suit. I should be sporting a hooded 5/4 for the still très chilly spring conditions, but I’ll be braving it in thinner rubber like the foolhardy beginner surfer I am. Right now it’s whale migration season, so hopefully I’ll spot one in the distance while I’m shivering, er, sitting on my board.

5. Thermos Base Camp Stainless Steel Mug – I will require a piping hot cup of coffee to warm myself up again after that cold water session. In keeping with caring for the environment, I tote along my own reusable mug. Conveniently, if I rent a board from Live to Surf, when I drop off I can walk a few feet to Tofitian for a good cappuccino.

6. Sitka Hoodie – Another key to getting warm, also fitting in with the locals, is having a hoodie, particularly one by beloved Island-born label Sitka. The Canopy style I have is cozy yet springy with its natty nautical stripe detailing.

7. Éminence Organics Chai Berry Glow Mineral Illuminator – There’s no point applying makeup if it’s just going to be washed off by pounding waves, but post-surf my pale face could use a perk up. This organic mineral bronzer not only gives me a little color, it’s chockablock with good stuff for skin and acts as a natural sunscreen.

For recommendations on what to do in Tofino, read:
Destination Dispatches: Surf and Suds, Both Served Cold

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