Chasing Winter Waves

The Crew Photo: Christian Coxen

While most people around Bellingham were happy to chase powder on Mount Baker on skis and snowboards, Nolan Leh sought surf mid-January. With a caravan of 13 friends, four vehicles, and 10 surfboards, they made a 7-hour journey across the Canadian border to Tofino, a coastal fishing town and Canadian surf haven. Tofino’s year-round population is roughly 2,000 and can swell to approximately 22,000 during the summer months, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Tofino, British Columbia. Photo: N. Leh

“We went surfing because there aren’t many people there this time of year,” he said, “Which also helps for getting a good deal on an Airbnb.”

During their stay, the crew would get out about twice a day to surf waves ranging 10 to 14 feet high. After big days and big waves, they retreated back to their rental to relax in the hot tub and sauna.  

After 5 days, Nolan and a smaller group split off to travel to explore more surfing options along the southern coast of Vancouver Island. Unfortunately, the details of where exactly they went won’t be shared. By way of explanation, Nolan offered that good surf spots are a limited resource, which explains surf culture’s localism and secrecy.

“It’s not like other sports where you can go and do it anytime,” he said. “Going to these places is nice because they are so far out there you will find fewer people.”

Nolan gets some turns on one of the smaller surf days. Photo: Christian Coxen

The crew seeks surf on the South Coast. Photo: Christian Coxen

Photo: N. Leh

With over 9 feet of rain a year, it wasn’t surprising that a few gallons filled our board bags while driving.


River gorge near the south coast. Photo: N. Leh

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