They call Whistler Bear country, however, Tofino has all the bears! We enlisted ourselves on a bear boat trip, which yielded a 12 bear count in the space of a couple of hours. The key is all in the timing of the low tide and the fact that the viewing takes place by boat.
We set off late in the afternoon at around 3 and weaved through the islands of the Pacific Northwest into the wilderness. This is where the bears are to be found, away from the business of the Tofino beaches, foraging for crabs and shellfish.
On almost every rocky beach was a lone black bear roaming the boulders and periodically overturning the rocks to see what treasures lay beneath. In the warm May afternoon sun, the shellfish slowly cook making for a tasty snack.
There are a few young families inhabiting these islands. The babies are shy and soon retire into the forests.
The rules governing wildlife spotting boat trips around Tofino are strict to minimise disruption to the bears and their habitat, and these rules seemed to be respected by the drivers. Safety is at the forefront of trips. Tofino has some strong and dangerous currents, and following some tragic accidents in the past, be prepared to wear a stiflingly hot full body boiler suit on a hot afternoon, and be forced to keep it on throughout the journey.
The bears themselves were totally unconcerned by our presence and much more interested in the job in hand of piling on those pounds!