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B.C.’s best beach revealed and it cracks Lonely Planet’s list of world’s top 10

Two Canadian beaches crack travelling bible’s list of the best beaches on Earth
Tofino families had a blast at Chesterman Beach on Saturday, Feb. 3. The beach was named the sixth best in the world on a list published by Lonely Planet. (Andrew Bailey photo)

Tofino boasts the sixth best beach in the world, according to Lonely Planet.

The publication announced its top 20 on Jan. 30 with Chesterman Beach shining in the sixth spot.

“We have sent our writers everywhere in search of sublime, surf-pounded shorelines and remote pockets of hard-to-reach paradise for Lonely Planet’s new book Best Beaches in the World. From Albania to Yemen and everywhere in between, our team has swam, snorkeled, slugged cocktails and hiked through rainforests, to create the definitive beach bible,” the announcement reads.

Chesterman is one of two Canadian beaches on the list, with Prince Edward Island National Park’s Stanhope Beach at 18. Olympic National Park’s Ruby Beach in Washington is the U.S.A.’s only representative at 17.

“Most people come to Chesterman Beach to surf, but it’s the views that will take your breath away. From misty mornings where the fog comes off the soft sand to the fiery skies in the evening as the sun dips below the cedar trees, you could spend all day here. The beach is also great for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and observing the hundreds of colorful starfish, anemones, urchins and other sea creatures that appear in tide pools,” Lonely Planet said of Chesterman in the announcement.

“You can even enjoy the beach as you whale watch, partake in outdoor yoga, or walk across the sandbar at low tide. The calm summer months are perfect for beginner surfers and with several expert-led surf schools based locally. Winter, and its serious swells, draw experienced surfers. It also hosts surf competitions. Make sure you bring your wetsuit – water temperatures don’t get much higher than 57°F (13.8°C).”

The sun came out as a rare winter cameo to celebrate Chesterman’s fame with beachgoers on Saturday.

“It’s exceptional isn’t it? This is an absolutely beautiful place and, to be honest, there’s nothing else quite like it to visit, so it’s the only choice,” Richard Pamplin, 80, told the Westerly News.

Richard and Silke Pamplin visit Tofino from Nanoose Bay every few months.

“It’s just a wonderful beach. It’s so nice and open and especially today when the sun is out, wow,” Silke said.

While maintaining a solid buzz amongst visitors as the sixth best beach internationally, Chesterman is well-established as number one in the hearts of many locals who enjoy their impeccable backyard playground.

Kaela Tompkins and her two sons Sam, 4, and Tommy, 7, are frequent frolickers at Chesterman and were basking in the sand on Saturday.

“We’ve been at the beach for four hours today already. We’re four hours into the beach and all of our clothes are wet and it’s sunny and bright and beautiful,” Tompkins told the Westerly.

“It’s super sunny and the kids can run around with their bare feet, jump in all the puddles and tidepools…I love seeing my kids exploring the tidepools, seeing all the little critters, making castles with their friends, it’s the best.”

Laura Lunty said she goes to the beach with her family multiple times a week and enjoys the interactions her kids have with the natural landscapes.

“I am actually having the best day of my life. I surfed at North Chesterman, then I went for brunch, then I came back here,” she said. “It’s sunny and it hasn’t been sunny in a while and look at how happy these children are. And, what are we doing? Nothing. We’re not doing anything to entertain them, they’re entertaining themselves, so that’s great. They find their own fun in the elements, in nature.”

She added the beach is also a key source of winter waves.

“When Cox Bay is too big to surf, which it always is in the winter, then you can surf here and it’s not a death paddle out,” she said. “It’s a much shorter span to get out and have fun.”

Ron Weeks pointed to a tombolo as one of his favourite features of Chesterman.

“It’s one of the most well defined tombolo’s in the world, he said pointing to the sand bridge that was temporarily linking the beach to Frank Island around 1 p.m.

“It’s that idea that the island is connected part of the time, but part of the time it’s actually an island because the tide gets too high. I like walking out there. I like walking to Frank Island. It’s an interesting geographical feature,” he said.

“It’s a very unique feature globally, there’s not a lot of those that are well defined in the world where two beaches come together and you have a tombolo that reaches an island.”

Anne Weeks said the beach offers a wide range of adventures.

“I like the fact that you can walk all the way from certain points all the way around,” she said.

“You can join the other side of the beach, you can walk to Frank. I also like to walk towards the (Wickaninnish Inn), sometimes get a tea over there and you can cut through and there’s a nice little trail that goes through the forest and comes out where the (Tofino) Nature Kids hang out. There’s just lots of different options; that’s what I like about this beach.”

Janet St. Pierre has lived in Tofino for 56 years and walks the beach at least once a week.

“I’m proud that it’s a local beach and I love it,” she said. “It’s gorgeous. Look at it. It’s absolutely gorgeous out here.”

Luise Frommer said the scenery keeps drawing her back for new experiences in the same space.

“There’s always something different to see,” she said, adding that whales can sometimes be spotted against the horizon. “Everyday you come and there’s different weather and the sky is different or the water’s up high against the houses and it’s rough or it’s calm.”

Dan Devault added the myriad of sights is hard to match.

“You can be looking at the surfers and seeing snowy mountains in the distance, it’s just unusual in the world I think to see that in one place,” he said. “I’ve been to a lot of beaches all over the Pacific and I think this is right up there with any of them that I’ve been to.”

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Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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