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Tofino vs. Hornby Island?

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Toronto, Canada
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Tofino vs. Hornby Island?

We have only 3 days in July and don't want to spend it all driving! Deciding between Tofino or Hornby Island. Have heard both are great, but we are worried about Tofino weather(rainy, foggy most of the time?) so advice needed!!

Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: Tofino vs. Hornby Island?

I haven't been to Hornby yet (ok, I had lunch at the pub at the ferry terminal. Only got as far as Denman - we were on bikes), but its high on my to do list. I'm rather frustrated that I have had to cut it from my summer itinerary AGAIN this year, but didn't want to scoot over for the sake of a day and so will save it for when we can spend some time exploring the island.

July is going to be your safest time to visit Tofino. However, keep in mind that Tofino has become a hotspot for tourism during bad weather - storm watching. The big waves rolling in off the ocean, and the magnificent rain forests take on a new mystery in the rain and fog. I don't think you need to worry about it too much, but just keep in mind that Tofino isn't ruined by bad weather the same way the Rockies would be (mountains you can't see are just not all that spectacular).

I think you need to consider that these are two completely different different destinations. Hornby is quiet inland waters, and that lovely Gulf Island microclimate in the rain shadow of the big island, so tends to be dryer and warmer. The island itself is quite isolated and its a pretty big deal to get there, so you can expect it to be low key and relaxing. Tofino is a major international destination on the outer west coast. The waves are big and wind is typical. Spectacular rocky coastline and immense trees in the unique Pacific temperate rainforest. Lots more in the way of services and activities catering to the tourist crowd.

So, it depends what you are looking for. The other consideration when you are driving is the cost and the schedule. Tofino is one ferry from the mainland (you don't say where you are coming from - surely not three days all the way from Toronto!), Hornby is three, albeit two of them are short, so that adds time and cost to the trip. I think I worked out that it was going to cost us an extra $100 to go to Hornby this summer, which was a big motivation for cutting it out. If I'm going to spend the money getting over there, then I want to have the time to stay and enjoy the place.

Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: Tofino vs. Hornby Island?

We have been to both Tofino and Hornby over the years and V-67 is (as usual) "spot on" regarding the differences between the two.

Tofino is somewhere we go for the magnificence of the ocean beaches and the rain forest surroundings. Yes, the weather can be unpredictable and we have had "bad weather" when we have been over there. However, we continue to go whatever the weather might be. (It is expensive; so, we tend to go in the shoulder season when prices are a bit less. We also take accommodation with kitchen facilities as restaurants are expensive over there as well.)

Hornby is a very laid-back island (removed from Lower Mainland by three ferries - one to get to Vancouver Island, one to travel from VI to Denman and one from Denman to Hornby). We have stood at the ferry dock on Hornby watching the last ferry for the day depart and found the sense of being "cut-off" from "civilization" until the next day sooo relaxing. It is a different kind of experience.

For someone making the decision whether to go to Tofino or Hornby for the first time, I would favour Tofino. However, that is just because of our particular interests.

Edited: 12:53 pm, June 12, 2011
Nanaimo, Canada
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3. Re: Tofino vs. Hornby Island?

Just arrived home from Hornby for the weekend. As noted Tofino and Hornby are very different. I agree with itchyfeet090, for a first time visitor I would choose Tofino because of the ease of access from Nanaimo. For Tofino you can be there in 3 hours and for Hornby there are more variables (traffic volumes, 2 ferries, little accommodation available (usually fully booked), serious water restrictions).

Vancouver, Canada
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4. Re: Tofino vs. Hornby Island?

My parents took my sister and I on a summer vacation to both Tofino and Hornby Island back in 1994. We spent 3 nights in Tofino at the Ocean Village Resort and then were planning to spend 3 nights on Hornby, but cut it down to 2 nights because we were underwhelmed by Hornby after the magnificence of Tofino.

Note - I've been back to Tofino many times since then, but I've never been back to Hornby... although I'd like to, knowing what I know now.

If you're coming all the way from Toronto, go to Tofino. You just can't get that kind of environment in Ontario. As for the weather, there's never reliable weather in Tofino, ever. It's a rainforest zone, so the nature is that there's always a chance of rain... but experiencing the rainforest in the rain is incredible. July is, by the way, one of the driest months. If you're going to go in July, you'll likely see some good weather.

Edited: 6:47 pm, June 13, 2011
Parksville, Canada
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5. Re: Tofino vs. Hornby Island?

I was on Hornby for a week last summer, went to Tofino several times when we lived on the Lower Mainland, but haven't been there for about 12 years. All of the above posters articulate the difference between the 2 very well.

I would probably go back to Hornby before I returned to Tofino. The wild ocean and the long beaches on the west coast of Vancouver Island (Tofino) are appealing, but being able to swim in the ocean (the water is warm!) is a big seller for me. Loved the walking/hiking on Hornby, the farmers' market, the minimal traffic.

Have a great trip.

Vancouver, Canada
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6. Re: Tofino vs. Hornby Island?

It's really apples and oranges, and you have to ask yourself what your priorities are.

If you want to experience lush ancient temperate rain forests hundreds if not thousands of years old, go to Tofino.

If you want dramatic waves crashing to the shore and beaches rich with marine life, go to Tofino.

If you want surfing and whales, go to Tofino.

If you want a pastoral island dotted with homes, farms, forest, and art studios, go to Hornby.

If you want waters warm enough to swim in, go to Hornby Island.

Edited: 9:46 pm, June 14, 2011
7. Re: Tofino vs. Hornby Island?

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