My Mini Guide to Tofino, BC
Tofino is a district of approximately 1,876 residents on the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. It is a world renowned tourist destination in the summer, where the population nearly quadruples during this time. If you are driving down from Victoria, be prepared for a long drive down the island where the elevation changes drastically and you do not want to be without good breaks during this drive otherwise you would be putting yourself in danger. Once you reach the bottom you will be at sea level so be prepared to have your ears pop. Once they do though you will have arrived in a little town where many locals still love today. Tofino is truly is an experience to be had and serves as a great place for all kinds of outdoor activities.
As you approach you will notice many “Tsunami” warning signs. This is no joke as The B.C. coast is considered a high-risk earthquake zone. So if you are planning a trip being prepared for such an event can be a life or death situation. Is the trip worth it to you? For me it was, however being prepared ahead of time is key to one’s peace of mind.
In the summer, Tofino’s population quadruples it’s normal size because of all the tourists, so it’s advisable to have your summer plans booked ahead of time to ensure you get to do and see all you want.
Tofino attracts surfers, nature lovers, bird watchers, campers, whale watchers and fishers alike. In the winter it is not as bustling, although many people still visit Tofino and the west coast to watch storms on the water and catch the big waves. Suffering in the winter is actually very popular and people can be seen surfing in there winter wetsuits all along the coast.
Depending on the time of year you’re wanting to make a visit. Tofino has allot to offer especially in the Summer making it the best time to visit for most people. In the winter there are different activities to do as most outdoor activity places close down, however there are still many stores and resorts that stay open for the locals and diehard surfers who love to surf and stay here in the Winter. The scenery is breathtaking which makes for an excellent place to visit anytime of the year.
Best time to go?
With all to do in the Summer months, summer would obviously be the best time to visit. However I would say early summer or late summer is best because there is less people on the roads making it easier to get around. If you are a surfer you may want to try your hand at winter surfing, I have heard from the locals that the waves are the best this time of year.
Top Things to do in and around Tofino:
- Jamie’s Whale & Bear tours ~ There are plenty of tours available in Tofino and Ucluelet areas to try, we tried the one in Ucluelet called “Jamie’s Whale & Bear tours” they are located in Tofino and Ucluelet and I would highly recommend them. Learn more about them here Jamie’s Whale & Bear tours
- Rainforest Trail ~ This trail is located in Canada’s only rainforest, the trail is a combination of boardwalk and trail. Depending on the time of year you may want to wear a rain jacket and waterproof gear. This place really brings you into a magical places with nature abound at every corner.
- The Big Tree Trail ~ Located outside Tofino is a stunning place that boasts some of the oldest trees you have probably ever seen. The trail is on a boardwalk and this path is easy to walk not to mention breathtaking. More information here about Big tree trail
- Long Beach, is popular year round destination, located just outside Tofino at the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. This beach boasts a 16 kilometres ocean beach front, and is a prized location for surfers and swimmers alike.
I’ve included recommendations & reviews for places I’ve tried in and around Tofino. Individual reviews following the places below are listed on my Restaurant’s page.
- The Red Raven lady, serving fresh oysters from a food truck located in Ucluelet.
- The Wildside Grill, serving fresh seafood and more.
- Goats on the roof, serving all kinds of fresh seafood and deli meals and smoked salmon.
Where to Stay:
- Location, Location – Cox Bay Beach Resort
Located right in the heart of Tofino, and right next to the beach. Also offers full amenities, restaurant, hot tub and more.
- Affordable Luxury – Tofino Motel Harbourview
I love this pet friendly motel. It’s really affordable too!
- Budget Friendly – Jamie’s Rainforest Inn
A great place to stay if you’re on a budget and pet friendly too.
Off the Beaten Path:
- Mussel beach campground.com is way off the beaten path, where well behaved pets are allowed. You should have a solid 4×4 to get here since it’s about a 15 minute drive on off a gravel road. You will want to book ahead of time as the place fills up quickly, however each camping spot is very secluded. I recommend booking one with an ocean view, they also offer Glamping which is very nice for those who don’t want to set up camp, see picture below of where we stayed. Highly recommended place if you’re wanting to slow things down for a couple days and go off the beaten path, be aware this is bear country.
- Ramsay Hot Springs, This is a popular day trip and is only accessible by boat or floatplane, you can book from a few outlets and is defiantly and experience to be had.
- Ucluelet, is a nearby fishing town that means “people of the safe harbour” in the indigenous Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka) language. There are lots of tourist activities to do such as whale watching, fishing, camping, etc. With less crowds then you would find in Tofino during the summer months. All which help to bring in tourist dollars for the local indigenous people living there all year round.
- The Old Country Market, one of the coolest markets I have ever been too. Offering, unique items for the home, amazing food and decor. This is a place everyone should have a chance to visit. More here about the Old Country Market.com
Note: This is an ever evolving list, check back for updates periodically.
Do you have any Tofino recommendations, we would love to check them out?Comment below or email us at [email protected]