Are you wondering is Tofino worth visiting? I can help you out.
I have been to Tofino and live a ferry ride away, and I will help give you insight into all the things to do and answer your question: is Tofino worth visiting?
A coastal town on the western edge of Vancouver Island, Canada, known as Tofino, is a captivating destination for travellers and should be on your bucket list when you visit Vancouver Island.
Here are things to do and the reasons why visiting this popular costal town is worth visiting.
Is Tofino Worth Visiting?
So, is Tofino worth visiting? Yes!
One of the top bucket list destinations in British Columbia, Tofino offers stunning landscapes, a rugged coastline, captivating beaches, and lush rainforests. The town is a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts, with many hiking trails and kayaking adventures.
Known for being Canada’s “Surfing Capital,” Tofino is a hub for surfers of all levels due to its consistent swells. It is also a prime location for whale-watching, as you can spot gray whales, orcas, humpbacks, and other wildlife.
Tofino’s laid-back atmosphere offers a perfect escape for relaxation and rejuvenation. The warm, welcoming community further enhances the town’s charm.
10 Things To Do In Tofino
Here are some things to do and see while you are visiting Tofino.
First and foremost, Tofino is known for its surfing and is the number one reason people travel or visit Tofino. You will be able to surf at any beach in Tofino.
However, if you need to learn how to surf or own any surfing equipment, surf schools in the town will help you get started and teach you how to surf.
Tofino Surf School and Surf Sister are two highly recommended surfing schools in Tofino, and they will get you started on learning how to surf.
2. Beach Hopping
You cannot go to Tofino and not check out the beaches. They may all look similar, but they are all unique. This is the list of beaches that are in Tofino below.
Chesterman Beach is an “m” or “w” shaped beach. During low tide, you can walk to Frank Island. You can always find surfers (especially from Tofino Surf School), SUP (stand-up paddle) boarders, kayakers, and dogs on a walk with their owners.
I loved walking along Chesterman Beach, it was the first beach we discovered when we visited Tofino. It was during low tide, so there was a lot of sandy beach to walk along.
Cox Bay Beach
Another beach to check out is Cox Bay Beach. Whenever there is a surf competition in Tofino, it is always held at Cox Bay Beach.
A parking lot entrance opened to the public beside Long Beach Lodge Resort, or another location is on Maltby Road.
Calmer waters and sheltered by the wind, Mackenzie Beach is an excellent destination for your things to do in the Tofino itinerary if you are travelling with small children. It is also the perfect beach for stand-up paddle boarding or skimboarding.
Hellesen Road is right off the Pacific Rim Highway, where the parking lot is for Mackenzie Beach.
Long Beach lives up to its name, being 16 kilometres long. It combines Wickaninnish, Combers, Schooner Cove and Florencia Bay Beaches, the longest beach on the island.
Walking the entire beach can take about half the day; we spent an hour and did not get as far as we thought. Whales are known to be spotted from time to time during migration seasons. Long Beach also attracts many surfers as it is a popular spot.
There are two lots to choose from, Incinerator Rock or Long Beach lot. National Park fees apply as you do have to pay for parking.
The tail end of Long Beach belongs to Wickaninnish Beach. If you can not make the long trek from the beginning of Long Beach, you can drive down to the parking lot.
Many locals come to Wickaninnish Beach to surf, especially during cloudy weather. However, since Wickaninnish Beach is further away from Tofino, it is much closer to the entrance of Ucluelet.
3. Tonquin Trail & Connector
Right beside the Tofino Community Hall in the middle of town, a trail takes you through the rainforest to Tonquin Beach, Third Beach and Middle Beach.
The Tonquin Trail & Connector is a 3-kilometre-long loop trail with interest points. The best time to walk this is during low tide as you can walk the beaches.
4. Storm Watching
While it may sound ridiculous, storm watching became one of the popular things to do in Tofino. Chesterman Beach and Cox Bay Beach are the places to head to during a storm. Some of the best hotels for storm watching in Tofino are on these two beaches.
The best time for storm season in Tofino is November to March. However, the winter months of December to February are known to have massive whopping waves.
Make sure to dress warmly and weather-appropriate and stay safe. Always check the tides before heading to the beaches, as sudden changes can happen rapidly.
5. Bear Watching
Black bears are widely famous on Vancouver Island. Bear watching is a great experience to see them do their thing in their natural habitat. Plus, there are chances to see cubs with their mamas during the spring.
6. Whale Watching
Is whale watching worth it on Vancouver Island? Yes, Vancouver Island is a hub for different species of whales. Tofino is one of the hot spots where you can find some of these whales during certain times of the year.
Head out on the ocean with a kayak tour through Clayoquot Sound. Tofino Sea Kayaking offers multiple different kayaking experiences.
Qualified, knowledgeable, and friendly guides will take you through the tour of your choice for an unforgettable experience.
8. Walk Around The Town
When in doubt, walk around town. There are boutiques, coffee shops, and other places to discover. In addition, there is a small lookout point where you can see other small islands across the way.
9. Go Fishing
Summertime in Tofino is the best opportunity to fish for adult Chinook Salmon. You can access their migration highway by a short boat ride. Later in the Summer, around August, Coho Salmon is available to fish.
10. Naa’Waya’Sum Gardens (Tofino Botanical Gardens)
On a sunny day, stroll through Naa’Waya’Sum Gardens, formally known as Tofino Botanical Gardens.
In a 12-acre space with gardens, forest, and the shoreline, immerse yourself in nature and the beautiful display of plants and trees that thrive in a temperate rainforest.
Best Places To Eat In Tofino
Tofino has popular local restaurants and coffee shops. Here are a few places that everyone goes to while visiting Tofino.
The must-stop place everyone has to go to in Tofino is Tacofino. The original Tacofino started as a food truck in Tofino and has expanded into a major franchise with locations in Vancouver and Victoria.
The fish taco and burrito are the most popular and the most order items on the menu. I had fish tacos before, so we ordered the pork and bean gringas. They were also delicious.
Wolf In The Fog
Compared to Tacofino being the number one place everyone talks about, Wolf In The Fog is the second most talked about place in Tofino. The reason is that it is a trendy restaurant to check out.
Food and drinks at Wolf In The Fog take inspiration from the surrounding local area, people, and produce, which means fresh and quality meals.
The Schooner Restaurant
Are you really into seafood? Then, head over to The Schooner Restaurant. They serve fresh and quality local seafood and a great dining experience, making it one of the best restaurants in Tofino.
Rhino Coffee House
One of the most talked-about coffee shops in Tofino is Rhino Coffee House. So, making it the must-go-to coffee shop to grab yourself a delicious hot or cold coffee, they also have all-day breakfast, sandwiches and wraps.
I enjoyed the hot chocolate. It hit the spot because it was chilly and raining the day we arrived.
Another excellent coffee place to stop at is Tofino Coffee. A cute small café is a great grab-and-go coffee spot with high-quality beans. You can buy bags of coffee beans as well that are on display.
How Many Days Do You Should Spend In Tofino
Typically the average amount is a weekend or three days in Tofino. That will give you enough time to explore the town, do some activities, and even try surfing.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Tofino
Tofino, I would have to say, is a year-round destination however, the best time to visit Tofino is during the summer month from June to August. But it is also during the high tourist season, and the prices are more expensive for accommodations.
However, I recommend January to April if you are looking for fewer tourists and more affordable price points. We visited in April and found it was perfect because there were not many people around other than locals.
However, if you are looking into only surfing, the best months are November to January.
How To Get To Tofino From Vancouver
There are two different ways of getting to Tofino from Vancouver. Travelling by car will be the most convenient way of getting to Tofino.
Tofino By Ferry
Taking the ferry and driving is a cheaper, more affordable option and, honestly, the best way to get to Tofino.
Unfortunately, there are no direct ferry rides from Vancouver to Tofino. However, you can take one of the two ferry routes to get to Vancouver Island.
The more common and “faster route” is taking the ferry from Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal (West Vancouver) to Nanaimo, an hour and 40 minutes long.
Suppose you are transiting to Horseshoe Bay, heading Westbound on Georgia and Seymour Street. In that case, you will want to get on the 257 bus Horseshoe Bay Express. The Skytrain or Canada Line stop will be on Grandville Street.
Once you have reached Nanaimo, the drive to Tofino will be approximately three hours long.
The alternative route is from Tsawwassen (Vancouver) to Victoria (Swartz Bay), an hour and 35-minute ferry ride.
However, you will have to take a long road trip through Vancouver Island to Tofino, which is approximately four hours and 35 minutes long.
Shuttle busing after the ferry is an option if you do not own or want to rent a car. You can book a shuttle bus pick-up from Vancouver Island Connector, depending on which ferry terminal you travel to.
There are specific dates and locations where their buses travel. Plan in advance if you decide to travel by shuttle bus.
Tofino By Flying
Flying is the second option to get to Tofino. However, it is more expensive to fly. If you choose to fly, it is a 45-minute flight from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to Tofino-Long Beach Airport (YAZ).
Where To Stay In Tofino
Tofino has many options; here are some popular places to stay in Tofino.
The high-end boutique Long Beach Lodge Resort sits right on the edge of Cox Bay Beach. With 41 rooms, the lodge provides a range of accommodations, including ocean or rainforest views and cozy cottages nestled in the forest.
Middle Beach Lodge is a rustic construction perched on a small cliff between Middle Beach and Mackenzie Beach, nestled in a serene inlet. This 40-acre secluded oceanfront lodge provides rooms with breathtaking ocean views or a peaceful forest setting.
Is Tofino Worth Visiting – FAQs
Here are some frequently asked questions about whether Tofino is worth visiting.
Are Beaches In Tofino Dog Friendly?
Yes! All the beaches in Tofino are dog friendly! However, being on a leash is greatly appreciated – and picking up after them, of course. You will notice that most dogs will be off-leash on the Tofino beaches.
Currently, there is a dog ban at Combers Beach, which is a part of Long Beach, until October 1st. The reason is that dogs are chasing shorebirds that migrate to rest on the beach.
Do You Need A Car In Tofino BC?
Yes, you will need a car in Tofino. While you may not need one to get around the town, you will need a car to drive to the beaches as they are not within walking distance.
Unless you are walking to Tonquin Beach, in that case, it is around a 20-minute walk from the town.
No local buses operate in Tofino, only the shuttle buses that connect Tofino, Ucluelet, and the rest of Vancouver Island.
Can You Walk Around Tofino?
You can walk around the town of Tofino yes. But everything else like beaches and the bulk of the hotels is quite a distance from the town.
Do You Have To Pay To Go To Long Beach Tofino?
You will have to pay a parking fee not only for Long Beach but for the majority of the beaches. However, there is no entrance fee for the beaches.
Conclusion: Is Tofino Worth Visiting
So is Tofino worth visiting? Yes, it is! The beautiful coastal destination allows you to explore nature, relax by the ocean, and reconnect with yourself. I hope you enjoy your trip to Tofino.
Have a good day 🙂