From the moment I arrived in Tofino, I knew this place was something special. I couldn't stop smiling for days. It was everything I love and more - a haven for photography, surfing, and good times.
Tofino is a small town on the Pacific Coast of Vancouver Island.
Among many things, the town is widely known as Canada's year-round surfing mecca.
This is what drove me here in the first place, and the beautiful scenery and culture drew me back and inspired me to make a photo project here.
I've traveled to many places over the years to shoot photos as well as surf.
The places I've traveled to on these surf adventures were typically warm and tropical.
I knew surfing existed in colder climates, but the thought of traveling somewhere uncomfortable to spend time in the water always kept me away.
Coming from somewhere cold already, I had always wanted to escape to warmer climates.
This couldn't be further from my current outlook. Cold surf destinations make for photographs like nothing a warm climate can deliver.
The Need to Travel
The thing that led me to Tofino the first time around was, strangely enough, Covid-19.
Almost an entire year into the global pandemic, I couldn't sit still any longer. I needed to travel.
So, for the first time in my life, I stuck to my homeland and traveled to the west coast of Canada - only 4,200 kilometers away.
After arriving in Vancouver, taking a two-hour ferry, followed by a two-and-a-half-hour drive, I came to a fork on the pacific rim highway.
Signs showed, left for Ucluelet, right for Tofino.
The sun was setting as I drove straight for North Chesterman beach.
I parked the car, grabbed my camera, and sprinted out to see if the rumors were true.
As I passed through the tree line and got my first glimpse of the scene, my face lit up like a kid on Christmas morning.
I was met with a breathtaking view.
Tofino: The Magical Canadian Surfing Town
Surfers scattered along the beach and throughout the water, snow-capped mountains in the background, island homes sitting off the coast, groups of surfers huddled around beach bonfires with their boards sticking out of the sand, and a beautiful thick tree line running down the entire beach.
It was heaven. Photogenic beyond anything I'd ever witnessed.
The environment encapsulated the essence of Canadian nature like no other.
After returning home, I was so inspired by Tofino that I couldn't get it off my mind.
I knew I had to turn this work into something bigger than some squares on Instagram.
Two months after returning from this trip, I found myself on a plane heading back out west to spend another week there shooting for this project and surfing every single day, of course.
After this second trip, I returned home and spent a full year working on and self-publishing a 56-page hardcover photo book consisting of my favorite photographs from my adventures in and around this magical Canadian surfing town.
It's called "Stoked on Tofino" and it is available at anthonysheardownphotography.com.
Before I finish, I would like to show recognition to the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations of the Nuu-chah-nulth people who have occupied this land for thousands of years.
Words by Anthony Sheardown | Photographer and Author of "Stoked on Tofino"