September. The south easterly trade winds stir, and low hanging clouds replace the fog of August. The already rich forest turns a juicy green with the first significant rains after a dry summer. Waves rumble in the distance. For visitors and locals alike, fall in Tofino is an experience that makes you feel alive. The North Pacific Ocean wakes up, and a new kind of energy takes over from the summer buzz. Here are 5 reasons why we live for this time of year:
The North Pacific Ocean is waking up, so to speak. Increased storm activity means more powerful groundswells, as opposed to the weaker wind swells of summer. (See our forecasting blog to make sense of this). Beaches like North Chesterman and Mackenzie Beach that were dormant from May to August, come to life with epic waves during the first major swell of the season. To give you an idea, much of summer is spent surfing waist to chest high waves, whilst a solid fall groundswell will give us some head-high to well overhead waves.
These storms also bring strong South East wind, which is good news for our local beaches. At both North Chesterman beach and Cox bay, this wind direction is offshore, grooming the wave face into a clean wall.
We can’t enjoy all the epic swells and offshore winds without rain, and lots of it. So here in Tofino, we’ve learnt to love it. It’s the kind of rain that makes you feel good about staying in doors after an epic surf session. Cozy dinners and board came nights replace beach sunsets and camping trips.
It’s statistically proven. Other than the obvious colder air temps, the water starts to cool down, too. While water temps in the summer range from 10 to 15 degrees, Fall and Winter temperatures hover between 5 to 10 degrees. This prompts the donning of that 5/4mm Hooded wetsuit, boots, and gloves. All this extra effort and discomfort around the act of surfing means that hot coffee becomes an essential fluid, both before and after your session. Fuel up, my friends.
Campbell street at 9am on a rainy fall weekday. There is a sweet calm in the air. Businesses are still running and fairly busy, yet the frenetic summer vibe is fading. Though gone are the days when Tofino became a ghost town after the Labour day long weekend, a shift in gears is palpable. This is a time when Tofino’s local workforce begins to take a well deserved break.
Riding winter waves is on another level. With the wide open beaches surrounding Tofino, beginner lessons can be easily accommodated in the shallow whitewash sections of the beach except for on the most extreme days when we cancel lessons for everyone’s safety. Meanwhile, seasoned surfers can get their fix out past the break in some heaving North Chesterman wedges. The excitement as those first storm swells appear on the forecast cannot be contained around town as everyone buzzes about where they hope to surf and what new board they are going to ride. Intrepid beginners venture into our little surf shop and wonder if it’s going to be too gnarly for them. Take a lesson with us, we say. We assure you that you’ll be in good hands with our trained instructors. Bring on the best time of the year!