If you’re looking for a place to get away from it all, commune with nature, and enjoy unparalleled accommodations, The Wickaninnish Inn on Vancouver Island, British Columbia is for you!
Located in the town of Tofino, Canada’s surfing mecca, the hotel offers understated elegance in harmony with its pristine natural surroundings.
The Wickaninnish Inn was built in 1996 and was the passion project of owner Charles McDiarmid and his family.
Charles’ father, Dr. Howard McDiarmid, was Tofino’s first doctor in the 1950’s and played a pivotal role in the area’s development and designation as a National Park. It was important to the family that limited changes were made to the existing forests and natural surroundings, so minimal clearing for the structure was done. Within the first two years, the hotel was invited to be a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateau Hotel Brand, a highly selective group of exceptional properties around the world.
The Wickaninnish Inn
The hotel, known by the locals and regulars as “The Wick,” is situated on a point on Chesterman Beach and blends in seamlessly with the surrounding landscape. Each room has an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean and beautiful sunsets. My wife and I stayed for 4 nights, and our room was spectacular. The furniture was handcrafted by master carvers Henry Nolla and Maxwell Newhouse, as were all of the beams, window frames, and other wood pieces.
Our balcony faced west and our view, day and night, was breathtaking.
The Pointe Restaurant at The Wickaninnish Inn is a mecca for those that love fine dining. It is a spectacular circular room with a domed roof and a 240 degree view of the Pacific Ocean.
The menu favors local fresh fish, meats, and farm fresh, organic produce prepared in a delicious and innovative Canadian style. From Grilled Sablefish and Confit Halibut to Beef Tenderloin and Roasted Duck, there is a flavor for every palate.
The restaurant has an extensive wine collection, recognized by Wine Spectator Magazine with a Best Of Award of Excellence, including many outstanding Canadian varietals. In addition, for real connoisseurs, the Inn offers Howard’s Wine Cellar, a specially designed tasting room with a carved cedar table for 20 of your best friends and a chance to sample incredible wines from around the world.
If you’re in the mood to chill, the On The Rocks bar adjacent to the restaurant offers great cocktails, beers and comfort food like clam chowder, awesome burgers, and delicious fish and chips. From the bar, you can enjoy the Pacific Ocean view and relaxing ambience.
There are many other amenities offered by the hotel. The Ancient Cedar Spa, fitness room, complimentary bikes, shuttle service, and the late Henry Nolla’s carving shed, still an active woodworking operation by skilled craftsman trained by Henry, are all at your disposal.
On The Road To The Wickaninnish Inn
We traveled from Vancouver to Vancouver Island via the ferry into Nanaimo. The drive to The Wickaninnish Inn takes about 3 to 4 hours and is beautiful. There are many great places to stop along the way, including The Old Country Market in Coombs, famous for their food and the “Goats on the Roof.” It’s a great place to lunch and walk around. It’s not everyday that you’ll see goats grazing on a roof!
As we continued towards Tofino, we stopped at The Cathedral Trail in MacMillan Provincial Park, filled with giant Douglas Firs as old as 800 years. These trees have trunks several yards wide and the tallest reach as high as 250 feet in the air! The extensive canopy reflects the light, creating an ethereal wonder.
The Pacific Rim National Park
The Wickaninnish Inn lies within the boundaries of the Pacific Rim National Park, which was brought into existence with the significant contributions of Dr. Howard McDiarmid, Charles’ father. First Nation tribes play an important role in the development and maintenance of their sacred lands.
It is over 200 square miles in the middle and west coast of Vancouver Island and has some of the most pristine forests and spectacular hiking trails in the world. It includes Long Beach, which extends from Tofino in the north to Ucluelet in the south. It also includes the West Coast Trail, a 47 mile long backpacking trail originally built to rescue shipwreck survivors.
Near the hotel is Chesterman Beach, a W-shaped (or M based on your perspective) beach that is just north of Long Beach, and has been rated one of the best beaches in the world.
It is almost 2 miles long with a sandbar that extends out to Frank Island. Sea life abounds in tidepools and exposed rocks, and the waves are great for boogie-boarding or surfing. The beach walk is invigorating, picturesque, and leads to some great local hiking.
From the Wickaninnish Inn, it’s a short drive or brisk walk to the town of Tofino. It’s been the location of many movie and TV shoots, and boasts many great restaurants and shops. Whale watching in the spring, surfing, bird-watching and hiking make Tofino a spring and summer destination.
South of Tofino is Ucluelet, and access to the Wild Pacific Trail. It is part of the Pacific Rim Trail. It’s a great hike through dense forests and rocky coastal trails. There are a variety of trail lengths for every level of fitness.
Plan A Trip To The Wickaninnish Inn
Discover the beauty and splendor of Vancouver Island with a visit to The Wickaninnish Inn. There is so much to do and see, and the Wick provides the comfort, amenities, and style you’ll appreciate. The first class staff will make you feel at home, help arrange excursions, or just be there for you when you come home from your adventure. Say hi to Charles when you get there!