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Wikaninnish Inn: Winter Storm Watchers' Paradise
Storm watching usually conjures visions of chase vehicles racing down country roads, not howling gales and pounding surf. But on Coastal British Columbia, you can watch ocean storms rage from the comfort of your hotel room.
Each autumn, the Aleutian Low, a persistent low pressure region over the Gulf of Alaska deepens to spawn a series of strong storms. Their November to March storm track marches southeastward to regularly batter the outer, now un-Pacific coast of Vancouver Island with mountainous waves, howling gales and persistent rains that would impress even Noah.
Not the traditional ambience for tourist destinations, but the kind of weather that draws many visitors each year to Vancouver Island's rugged west coast and particularly to Tofino's Wikaninnish Inn. Seated on a rocky headland, the Wickaninnish Inn presents guests with panoramic views of the open Pacific, barrier islands, and the natural sweep of sandy beach as storms drench the shoreline with gale-driven rain and spray, and send twenty-foot waves pounding onto the coast.
Located at the gateway to Pacific Rim National Park, the Inn has the renowned beauty of Clayoquot Sound's old-growth forests of red cedar and western hemlock as a backdrop. For the more adventurous, Wickaninnish Inn provides rain slickers and boots to those wanting to experience the invigorating weather and the sights, sounds and smells of the storm-tossed seashore on adjacent Chesterman Beach, three kilometres (nearly two miles) of sand and surf.
The Inn is no spartan, rugged resort, however. It was specially designed to offer North America's best destination for West Coast storm-watching. Each room features ocean views from floor-to-ceiling windows, deep soaker bathtub with a view, a fireplace and private balcony for optimum storm viewing and ambiance. Travel and Leisure Magazine recently named Wickaninnish Inn top North American hotel.
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