Is Tofino Worth Visiting? Reasons & Things To Do

Are you wondering 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.

I have been to Tofino and live on the mainland, only a ferry ride away. While Tofino is worth a visit, I can help give you insight into all the things to do, such as surfing, exploring beaches, and much more.

Let’s get into it; there’s much to share about Tofino.

Is Tofino Worth Visiting?

So, is Tofino worth visiting? Yes!

One of the top bucket list destinations in British Columbia, Tofino offers stunning landscapes, beautiful coastlines, beaches, and 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’s also a prime location for whale-watching, as you can spot gray whales, orcas, humpbacks, and other wildlife.

Tofino has a laid-back atmosphere that offers a perfect escape for relaxation and rejuvenation.

10 Things To Do In Tofino

Here are some things to do and see while you’re visiting Tofino.

1. Surfing

First and foremost, Tofino is known for its surfing, which is the number one reason people travel or visit. You can 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. They can help you learn to surf. While I haven’t surfed in Tofino yet, I’ve surfed in Hawaii, and it’s an extremely fun experience. So, I highly recommend learning how to surf.

Is Tofino worth visiting? Yes! Long Beach is also worth a visit in Tofino. There are people surfing on the beach. Someone is holding a green surf board on the edge of the ocean.

2. Beach Hopping

You can’t go to Tofino without checking out the beaches. Although they may all look similar, they’re all unique. Below is a list of Tofino beaches.

Chesterman Beach

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.

A rocky outcropping with a view of the beach during low tide and the ocean on either side, with trees on the horizon and mountains in the background.

Cox Bay Beach

Another beach to check out is Cox Bay Beach. Whenever there’s a surf competition in Tofino, it’s always held at Cox Bay Beach.

A parking lot entrance is opened to the public beside Long Beach Lodge Resort, or another location is on Maltby Road.

Mackenzie Beach

With calmer waters and sheltered by the wind, Mackenzie Beach is an excellent destination if you’re travelling with small children. It’s 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

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’s a popular spot.

There are two lots to choose from: Incinerator Rock and Long Beach. National Park fees apply, as you do have to pay for parking.

Wickaninnish Beach

Wickaninnish Beach is at the tail end of Long Beach. If you can’t 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’s much closer to the entrance of Ucluelet.

3. Tonquin Trail & Connector

A trail leads through the rainforest to Tonquin Beach, Third Beach, and Middle Beach, right beside the Tofino Community Hall in the middle of town.

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 on the beaches.

4. Storm Watching

While it may sound ridiculous, storm watching has become one of Tofino’s most popular things. 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 for massive, whopping waves.

Dress warmly and weather-appropriately, 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 fantastic experience, as it shows them doing their thing in their natural habitat. Plus, there are chances to see cubs with their mamas during the spring.

6. Whale Watching

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.

7. Kayaking

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’s 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.

Tacofino

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 menu’s most popular and ordered items. I had fish tacos before, so we ordered the pork and bean gringas. They were also delicious.

Tacofino food truck. There are stickers all over the side of the car. There is a small hut overhang to ser the food. There is a chalkboard menu on the far right.

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’s a trendy restaurant to check out.

The food and drinks at Wolf In The Fog are inspired by the surrounding 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, quality local seafood and offer 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.

Two to-go cups that have Rhino Coffee House on the sleeve. It also says what they sell such as coffee, donuts, breaky, and lunch. Plus it's an omo eco friendly cup.

Tofino Coffee

Another excellent coffee place to stop at is Tofino Coffee. This cute small cafΓ© is a great grab-and-go coffee spot with high-quality beans. You can also buy bags of coffee beans 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 is a year-round destination. However, the best time to visit is during the summer, from June to August. This is also during the high tourist season, and accommodations are more expensive.

However, I recommend January to April if you’re 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, the best months are November to January if you’re looking into only surfing.

How To Get To Tofino From Vancouver

There are three different ways to get to Tofino from Vancouver. This is an in-depth explanation of how to get to Tofino from Vancouver.

Tofino By Ferry And Car

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 to take the ferry from Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal (West Vancouver) to Nanaimo, which is an hour and 40 minutes long.

If you’re travelling by local transit in Vancouver, you’ll want to get on theΒ 257 bus Horseshoe Bay Express. The Skytrain or Canada Line stop will be onΒ GrandvilleΒ 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’ll have to take a long road trip through Vancouver Island to Tofino, which is approximately four hours and 35 minutes long.

Shuttle Bus

If you don’t own or want to rent a car, shuttle busing after the ferry is an option. 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. If you decide to travel by shuttle bus, plan in advance.

More information on the Vancouver Island Connector.

Tofino By Flying

Flying is the third option for getting to Tofino. However, it’s more expensive. If you choose to fly, it’s a 45-minute flight from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to Tofino-Long Beach Airport (YAZ).

Where To Stay In Tofino

Tofino has many options, and here are some popular places to stay.

Long Beach Lodge Resort πŸ’Ž

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 βš–οΈ

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’ll notice that most dogs will be off-leash on the Tofino beaches.

From April 1st to October 1st, dogs are banned at Combers Beach, part of Long Beach. This is because dogs have been chasing shorebirds that migrate to rest on the beach. The action was created to decrease disturbance to the shorebirds.

Do You Need A Car In Tofino BC?

Yes, you’ll need a car in Tofino. While you may not need one to get around the town, you’ll need one to drive to the beaches, as they aren’t within walking distance.

Unless you’re walking to Tonquin Beach, in that case, it’s around a 20-minute walk from the town.

No local buses operate in Tofino; only shuttle buses connect Tofino, Ucluelet, and the rest of Vancouver Island.

Can You Walk Around Tofino?

You can walk around the town of Tofino. 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’ll have to pay a parking fee for Long Beach and most of the beaches. However, there’s no entrance fee for the beaches.

How Far Apart Is Tofino And Ucluelet?

Tofino and Ucluelet are approximately 35 minutes apart. If you’re visiting Tofino, Ucluelet is also worth visiting.

Conclusion

So is Tofino worth visiting? Yes, it is! The beautiful coastal destination allows you to explore nature, surfing, and reconnect with yourself. I hope you enjoy your trip to Tofino.

Have a good day πŸ™‚