The surfs so cold on Vancouver Island it causes brain freeze.
Think surfing and you probably think bronzed bodies, frothing waves and warm sun. Tofino, British Columbia has the waves, but the sun hides behind the clouds that make this a rainforest, and bodies are hidden under layers of neoprene. “In winter I wear a thick wetsuit, hoodie, boots and gloves but when I go under a wave I still get a brain freeze, ” explained surfer Sarah Smith, her delicate features belying the inner strength needed to ride a board into 45°Fahrenheit waters. “In summer I still wear the same gear but my head doesn’t hurt from the cold.” Just watching surfers bob among the wake wash on Cox Bay was giving me a chill as rain dripped from the sky and down my back.
This place gets 130 inches of rain a year and is a nature lover’s dream. I’d come looking for thousands of shorebirds that stop en-route to Alaska and had instead become transfixed by surfers traveling by bicycle, their surfboards strapped to metal sidecars. Realizing I could gawk from indoors where I didn’t need my long underwear, I headed to the Great Room at Long Beach Lodge Resort where bar manager Andre McGillivray served up gin infused with hand-foraged botanicals.
Rumored to taste like the nearby forest I was eager to try this craft gin. McGillivray layered gin, lemon juice, demerera sugar and meringue into a creamsicle-colored cocktail that provided a pop of color against the grey sky. McGillivray pulled a lighter from his pocket and set angostura bitters on the drink ablaze. The flames danced above the glass and faded quickly like some of the surf attempts outside the window. I slid the frothy liquid down my throat. It did taste like the forest or perhaps like the fresh air whipping over the ocean. Tofino may serve up the coldest surf on the west coast but its methods for warming up are a no-brainer.
To learn more about Long Beach Lodge Resort’s gin and surf offerings go to www.longbeachlodgeresort.com
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Long Beach Lodge Resort’s gin and surf offerings are next to none: Click to Tweet.