Culture / Travel

Vancouver Island’s Secret Mega Celebrity Retreat — Your Guide to Tofino’s Charms

A Fishing and Nature Wonderland

BY // 07.29.19

TOFINO, British Columbia — If you want the scoop on which celebrities are seeking solitude in this charming oceanfront village on Vancouver Island, check with the fishing guides. On our recent excursion with three different guides, we not only scored a haul of salmon, rock fish and ling cod, but we also garnered the skinny on where Lady Gaga bunked during a recent quest for R&R and on the starry lineup of visitors.

Lady Gaga’s retreat was, according to the fishing guide on our second day out, the home of the owner of the Wickaninnish Inn. The spacious dwelling perched on a solitary outcropping is flanked by water on three sides with floor-to-ceiling windows for perfect views of the sea and the sunset, an ideal retreat for solitude seekers.

When we checked with the inn for confirmation, the fellow at the desk responded that the hotel does not reveal information about its guests. So we took that as a yes.

The allure of Tofino extends from the ruggedly beautiful coastline to the neighboring islands wrapped in old-growth cedar forests, from the temperate climate to the myriad outdoor diversions. Tops for die hards is surfing in the chilling waters. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regularly books an oceanfront retreat south of the village and can be found a few weeks each summer surfing along with a wet-suited security detail. Australian actor Chris Hemsworth, aka Thor, has been known to take a break from filming in Vancouver to ride the waves in Tofino.

Neil Patrick Harris, according to another guide, is a Tofino regular and Sarah McLaughlin, Canadian singer and founder of the Lilith Fair music fest, has a home here and is part owner in a local restaurant. Jack Black, Uma Thurman, and Alanis Morissette are among Tofino fans. And our third guide informed us that when Vancouver native Ryan Reynolds wed Scarlett Johansson, they said their vows at the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, a Relais & Chateaux luxury glamp-ing resort tucked into the neighboring Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve Area.  (That duo has since divorced and Reynolds is today married to Gossip Girl Blake Lively.)

Seaplanes come and go throughout the day in Tofino. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)
Seaplanes come and go throughout the day in Tofino. (Photo by Shelby Hodge)

While fishing is the activity of choice when we visit Tofino, the diversions are ample. Whale watching tours, bear viewing tours, sea kayaking, hiking, adventures to the Hot Springs Cove and visits to the lush Tofino Botanical Garden. Add the nine-hole championship golf course, the Long Beach, which is surrounded by the ancient rainforest of the Pacific Rim National Park.

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For the record, the Wickaninnish Inn, also a Relais & Chateaux hotel, is our summer mainstay for R&R — romance and relaxation. And salmon fishing.

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