I took Sharon and Tanya up to Tofino to kick off their surf careers with some professional instruction. I think they had second thoughts as we climbed over the mountains in a full on snowstorm before reaching the coast. Surfing and snow…hmmmmm! As it turned out we had two sunny and relatively warm days in Tofino which for this time of year is a score.
Sharon booked two days of lessons with Surf Sisters, a surf school that specializes in teaching the ladies – although men are welcome as well. Each 3hr lesson began with 1hr of inside classroom instruction. For someone who knows nothing this is useful, but if you have done some basic reading about surfing you may find that losing 33% of your lesson to talking isn’t productive. For the girls this format was good and 3hrs in the water might have been too much to start with.
The first day’s lesson was with Lisa and there were two other people in their group lesson [$75/person for a group lesson vs. $150/person for a private lesson]. They worked on the basics of catching a whitewater water near shore and popping up on the board. Everyone had fun and Lisa was a great instructor. I was happy that Sharon didn’t get cold in her wetsuit. She has some circulatory issues that often causes her problems. The North Pacific Ocean in winter seemed like it could freeze her hands and feet, but through the magic of her 6/4mm neoprene wetsuit from Promotion she was comfortable the whole lesson.
After the first day’s lessons we got showered and changed into warm clothes before heading out to eat a well deserved dinner at The Shelter Restaurant. They have a very cozy upscale vibe going on that isn’t cheap, but the quality of the service and food was worth the cost. The girls had ambitious plans for the evening that ended up falling apart as we were all asleep by 930pm! I guess we aren’t rockstar material…=-)
We stayed at the Tofino Motel. At $65+taxes/night it was reasonably priced and had large clean rooms centrally located for walking around town. I’ve stayed here twice and it will likely be my choice for future trips as well. We ate breakfast each day at the Sea Shanty Restaurant. They’ve got a great view of the ocean and large portions of freshly made food to fuel your surf adventures. Another great place for food is the Wildside Grill located across from Live to Surf near Chesterman’s Beach. They have great fish and awesome tacos. We tried the Dockside Pub, but it was a bit below average and we won’t be heading back. For a just a bit more $$ the Shelter Restaurant is a better value for food and drink.
Day two of lessons with Surf Sister featured a different instructor and a smaller class with just Sharon and Tanya. That ratio should have resulted in a better experience than the previous day, but unfortunately this instructor [I won't name names in case she was having a rare off day] wasn’t very interested in teaching them. She took off and surfed on her own while they struggled and she didn’t even notice when one of them had a problem and had to go back to the beach to regroup. Lesson learnt! If you are booking lessons with Surf Sister I’d request Lisa specifically. I can also highly recommend Adam at the Pacific Surf School for quality instruction. The good news is the excellent instruction on day 1 gave them lots to work on so the time wasn’t wasted. Sharon did great paddling out past the breaking waves 3 times and then working on catching waves on the way back in.
Despite the poor instruction on day 2. The girls were so stoked by the beauty of the Tofino area and the fun they had in the surf that they were already scheming about the next trip to catch some waves. I’d call that mission accomplished…=-)
You can blame the lack of action shots on my poor preparation. I pulled out my waterproof Pentax camera only to find not one, but two dead batteries – of course I didn’t have the charger with me…*sigh* Being the “gear guy” this was more than a bit embarrassing! Oh well. I assured them that next trip I’d have a functional waterproof camera and they’d be more skilled so the shots would look more impressive!