Tofino BC is a nature-lovers paradise on the westernmost edge of Vancouver Island. It is located on the Esowista Peninsula in Clayoquot Sound, the traditional territory (Ha-houlthee) of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation of the Nuu-chah-nulth peoples. Approximately 2,000 people call Tofino BC home year-round although the population swells to many thousands in the summer months as visitors from around the world flock to the region.
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Tofino BC is a magical place that inspires visitors to relax the mind and awaken the soul. Whether it is sea kayaking between the islands, learning to surf, a hike through the forest or meandering through the museum and galleries, you’ll find plenty of activities to rejuvenate your spirit. Find some popular things to do in Tofino BC here.
Every type of accommodation you can dream up can be found in Tofino…
With hotels, motels, hostels, B&B, vacation rentals and camping options available, whatever your preferred style of travel accommodations is, it can be found in the region. Visit Tourism Tofino for a comprehensive list.
You’ll definitely want to ditch the car if you can and take advantage of nearly 9 km of multi-use path that connects the town to the beaches in the region. You can also cycle on a 2.5 km stretch of hard-packed sand at Chesterman Beach. Bring your own or rent a bike while you’re visiting for stress-free commuting. The area is generally flat and pedal-friendly. Note if you plan to bring an e-bike and pedal through Pacific Rim National Park, only pedal-assist e-bikes are permitted on paved portions of the 25 km pathway. Throttle e-bikes are not allowed. Get details here.
Tofino’s history is that of a fishing village and it is still a strong characteristic of the region. Expect to reel in chinook salmon year-round, and coho salmon and albacore tuna in the summer and fall. In the winter months, trap fishing for spot prawns and dungeness crab is common. Bring your boat or contact one of the local charters in the area.
Fun for the whole family is in store at the Long Beach Golf Course that includes a 9-hole championship course, a driving range and mini golf. Golfing at the beach brings a whole new meaning to surf and turf! You can even stay onsite at one of the 76 campsites and 6 full serviced RV sites.
On one of my first trips to Tofino we went on a whale watching/bear watching/Hot Springs Cove excursion and it was incredible! This is a bucket-list item I encourage you to experience.
The whale watching portion of the trip was exhilarating with very active whales, including a giant humpback that swam directly under our idling boat. Then we docked at Hot Springs (only accessible by boat) and embarked on a 1.5 km hike through the rain forest along a cedar boardwalk. Magical!
The hot springs themselves are natural geothermal pools that gradually get cooler the further you get from the waterfall. Many people take a customary “shower” at the cascading waterfall but honestly, it was just too hot for me. In fact, I did feel a little unwell from the very hot water so we kept moving to cooler and cooler pools until we found one with a temperature that was comfortable for me.
With no services and no fresh water, you’ll need to be prepared with your own food and water. For the return trip, the captain chose a different route and provided a narrated tour of the wildlife and yes, we saw bears!
If you've ever heard someone say they want to "kayak with the whales" this is where they want to be. Sea kayaking out of Tofino BC is incredible! Bring your own gear, rent some while you're here or hire a guide. You won't be disappointed! Find guided tours here.
Tofino BC isn’t just a place for thrill seekers – there is a thriving, vibrant arts culture beckoning you to discover. On Saturdays from mid-May through mid-October, you can meet local creators at the Tofino Public Market. The market features vendors who employ the make it, bake it, grow it or gather it philosophy. You will also want to incorporate a visit to one or several of the following creative venues during your stay.
Tuff City Skatepark is the place to be for young and old, beginner to experienced skateboarders. The park, which opened in 2005 in the heart of town features over 18,000 square feet of surf-inspired elements that includes ledges, stairs, waves and rails.
Who says the beach is only for summer months? With no land mass between Tofino and Japan, the mighty Pacific Ocean has plenty of time of stir up some wild weather and unleash it on our coast. Come for the crashing waves and unreal natural beauty, or curl up at home and experience the fury on one of the many beach web cams in the area.
You can't help but think of surfing when you think of Tofino. In fact, this is the location where many Canadian surf competitions are held. Experienced surfers will want to head to Cox Beach while those new to the sport - or getting on the board for the very first time - will find the perfect waves at South Chesterman Beach.
If you have the time, I highly recommend combining whale watching with an excursion to Hot Springs Cove – see above. Otherwise, whale watching by itself is still a thrilling experience. We once took my father-in-law out on a trip in mid-March – not the ideal time for whales.
Despite the captain’s best efforts and nearly 5 hours of zipping around the waters, we did not have any sightings. But with the company’s terrific whale-sighting guarantee, we were able to come back in the summer a few years later and take them up on it. Success!
Ideal times for whale watching are June through September.
You thought zip-lining through the trees was exhilarating? Just wait until you experience zip-lining through an ancient growth rainforest and the steep, narrow Kennedy River Canyon. Thrilling! Contact West Coast Wild for information.
Tofino BC is a small village so the dining options are not extensive – but what is there, is outstanding! Two stops that I particularly enjoy are Tacofino and The Hatch Waterfront Pub. Tacofino is a food truck located at 1184 Pacific Rim Highway with a menu featuring exceptional tacos and burritos. The Hatch is a Tofino BC institution and the only real pub in town – not to mention terrific food and incredible views of the inlet. With so few options, and so many people in the busy summer months, it can be difficult to get a seat at some of the local restaurants, bakeries and cafes. Be prepared for long waits.
The most popular beach for locals and visitors alike. Chesterman Beach is a sandy 2.7km stretch of heaven. Low tide at North Chesterman is the time to explore tidepools to find sea stars, anemones and more. Low tide is also the time to walk out on the sand spit to Frank Island for terrific views of the entire coastline. The Wickaninnish Inn, located right on the beach, invites you to visit the Carving Shed where you can speak with the artists and view their latest works.
South Chesterman is the most popular spot for those learning to surf. Rent some equipment and go it alone or take a lesson from a local surf instructor.
Parking is available at lots at both North and South Chesterman Beach with a few at Middle Chesterman.
If you’re an experienced surfer, this is the beach for you. The crescent-shaped beach offers the most consistent surf and is the location of most of the surfing competitions. It is also a terrific location for exploring tidepools but be sure to leave your findings in their natural habitat. Kids will have fun playing in the driftwood shelters and if you’re lucky enough to be there at low tide, you may want to explore the tidal caves at the northern tip of Cox Bay (to the right when facing the ocean.) While pet and kid friendly during low tide, you will need to retreat when the tide starts coming in.
Parking for Cox Bay Beach is accessed near the entrance to Long Beach Lodge Resort and also on Maltby Road.
Stretching over 16 kilometres, Long Beach is the longest beach on Vancouver Island. It is situated within the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and daily national park user fees apply.
Because it feels like you can walk forever, it seems to be what most people do! Walking this beach is a soul-enriching experience. Keep your eyes open and you just may catch a glimpse of passing gray and humpback whales. If you tire of walking, there are hundreds of weathered driftwood logs to relax on.
If you’re into storm watching, the Wickaninnish Beach (part of Long Beach) is the spot for you. There is an observation deck at the Kwisitis Visitor Centre from which you can safely watch the ocean’s powerful waves.
Surfing is also popular at this beach although conditions tend to be for experienced surfers, especially in winter.
MacKenzie Beach is the closest beach to Tofino BC and is the perfect destination for families. Because the area is sheltered by large tidal rocks, the waters are relatively calm and inviting. The beach is popular for stand-up paddle boarding, skimboarding, frisbee, beachcombing, picnicking, swimming and sand castle building.
There are public washrooms and showers and a Mobi-Mat to facilitate beach access for everyone (a Mobi-mat is a rollout mat for individuals experiencing mobility challenges as well as wheelchair and stroller users).
Beach fires are permitted and parking is available on Hellesen Road.
The weather in Tofino is slightly cooler and wetter than in the Greater Victoria area. The summer average is about 20°C and winter is around 3°C. August can typically be somewhat foggy in the region due to the cold ocean temperatures meeting the warm air however it generally burns off early in the morning. The good news about the fog is that it frequently enables campfires to continue to burn, even when the rest of the island is under a campfire ban.
You can fly or drive to Tofino BC but there is no ferry that will get you directly here.
Flying options are with Pacific Coastal Airlines who fly into Tofino-Long Beach Airport (YAZ) or land in the harbour on a seaplane through Harbour Air or Tofino Air. Another option is to fly into Comox, Nanaimo or Victoria and drive from there.
From Comox and Nanaimo, you can expect a drive of approximately 3 to 3.5 hours and from Victoria it is about 5 to 6 hours. Highway 4 is the only way in and out and road closures occasionally happen. The highway is currently undergoing major restoration work near Kennedy Lake. Check DriveBC for road and weather conditions and be prepared with food and fuel. Washroom facilities along Highway 4 can be found at theTaylor Arm pullout and Kennedy River pullout. Cell phone coverage is sketchy and frequently unavailable along most of Highway 4 between Port Alberni and the Tofino/Ucluelet junction.
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