Surfing in Canada? Oh, yes. Canadian travel writer Kristin Kent discovers not only miles of untamed wilderness on Vancouver Island’s wild west coast, but a growing surfing scene among the orca-inhabited ice-cold waters. 

“Is this right?” I ask my husband Dave. “This can’t be the route.”

The map threatens to zigzag us from sea to mountain to another sea, up another mountain, and back down to sea again. My husband, having once lived on-island, smirks, and says: “You just wait.”

The map is dead-on—and it is glorious. During our one-week road trip, we’ll traverse potholed mountain passes and weathered logging roads in this part of British Columbia. We’ll trek old growth rainforest and national parks where salmon spawn and bears roam free. This is where the Pacific Ocean first plows into land, where eagles and osprey fly overheard as surfers delight in the surging swells.

Eco-tourism is a huge draw for visitors like me, but thanks to a motley crew of cold-water surf pioneers—the Okes family in Port Renfrew and the Bruhwilers in Tofino—surfing has ballooned in popularity, and there’s good reason.