The rationale for coming to the west coast of Vancouver Island is to experience the beauty of nature at its wildest and most pristine. That could mean watching a storm blow in over the Pacific Ocean while you enjoy a glass of wine in the warmth of your hotel room. Or it could mean strolling through the mist along an endless sandy beach. Or it could mean kayaking, hiking, whale-watching, or surfing. That said, there is also a cultural component to this area where so many artists live, especially First Nations carvers and painters, as well as a creative and passionate culinary community.
There are some 20 small art galleries or artists’ studios in the area, and if you stop in at the Tourist Info Centre, you can pick up a pamphlet with a map and contact info, then spend a day visiting as many as possible. You can, for instance, find Sol Maya’s dramatically colorful hand-blown glass sculptures at Solart Glass Studio (1180 Pacific Rim Hwy., Tofino; tel. 250/725-3122; www.solmaya.com). Or, if you drop by Reflecting Spirit Gallery (441 Campbell St., Tofino; tel. 250/725-2472; www.reflectingspirit.ca), you can discover the fiber art of Kathryn Cunningham or surf paintings by Rika. Definitely don’t miss the haunting works by legendary First Nations artist Roy Henry Vickers at his longhouselike Eagle Aerie Gallery (350 Campbell St.; tel. 250/725-3235; www.royhenryvickers.com). And be sure to visit the Himwitsa Gallery (300 Main St., Tofino; tel. 800/899-1947 or 250/725-2017; www.himwitsa.com) down by the waterfront—yes, there’s plenty of tourist tat in here, but you can also find beautiful silver jewelry by local First Nations artists, as well as etched glass sculptures, bentwood boxes, and totem poles.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.