Often, half-awake guests walk through our office at 6:45 in the morning and they look at me funny. I can tell they’ve not yet had a coffee and are stumbling through the motions of filling out waivers and getting fitted in our Helly Hensen raincoats with eyes not yet fully open. Although perhaps a little quite or almost distant, I do not believe these early morning adventure seekers consider me an enemy. However, I think a certain sense of confusion is present as these guests try to understand why they are up so early on their holiday. I collect the paperwork quietly and calmly, suit them up with a smile and then direct them down to the boat to send them on their merry way.
Around 2 hours later, the boat comes back. This time, however, eyes are wide open, conversation is loud and excited and it appears that caffeine is no longer necessary to waken the senses (well, at least on part of the guests). Their Bear Watch trip has been a success and as the rest of town only begins to stir, this group moves on with their day in Tofino with less sleep, but more awake than most.
Trying to convince the general holidaying population that they want to be up at an unheard of hour to come out on one of our boats can sometimes be a challenge. There is, however, good reason as to why we run our Bear Watch tours so early and I can promise you it is not in an effort to torture the holidaying population.
We run our Bear Watch trips according to tides. The lowest tides in fact. As the tide drops around Tofino, bears begin to wonder down to the beach along the Inlet side. When the tide drops, lots of goodies are left on the beach for snacking. The bears wander down to the shore’s edge and begin to turn over rocks and logs searching for crustaceans: truly an entertaining experience. Tides in Tofino run on a 6-hour cycle and whenever there is a high tide, a low tide will follow 6 hours later (followed by another high tide another 6 hours after that).
In conjunction with the low tides we also generally prefer to run our Bear Watches earliest in the morning due to heat. We see bears the most often throughout the summer months when it reaches the warmest temperatures in Tofino usually around a mild 15 degrees Celsius. This may not seem too warm for most of us, but for those with irremovable thick fur coats on, this heat would make searching for food that much more of a challenge. That is not to say you will not see any bears on a low tide in the middle of the day (I’ve seen bears several times on mid-day trips) but it might mean you may not see as many.
So, the magic formula for the best bear watching in Tofino is: early mornings and low tides. We do have such an amazingly healthy bear population in Tofino that facilitates daily bear watching trips at all times of day, but it is always a treat when those 2 variables connect. Speaking of best-case scenario, a group of happy bear watchers have just returned from a low tide/early morning Bear Watch trip. Now that they seem to be more willing to converse with me, apparently the trip was amazing.
For more information on tides, check out the Tofino tide guide. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call the office!