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Tofino

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Tofino, population 1,700, is a former logging and fishing village that has become a center for ecotourism and activities such as whale watching, surfing, and camping. It is located on Clayoquot Sound, on the Pacific coast of Vancouver Island, 208 km (129 miles) west of Nanaimo. Clayoquot Sound is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

Tofino is accessible via Highway 4. The road, best driven during the day, is very twisty and narrow (particularly west of Port Alberni) but offers great views of lakes and mountains on the west coast. Coming from Victoria, take Highway #1/#19 north 160km to the Highway 4 turnoff west to Port Alberni.

By plane[edit]

Tofino-Ucluelet Airport (YAZ), also known as Long Beach Airport (CYAZ), is located 19 kilometers south-east of Tofino, on the Pacific Rim Highway (Hwy 4). It is in Pacific Rim National Park, and just across the highway from Long Beach. Regularly scheduled flights to Victoria (YYJ) and Vancouver (YVR) on Orca Airways are $130-$160 one-way. Private pilots will find three 5,000-foot paved runways, no landing fees, and fuel available. However, beware the weather; low overcast is common, and fog can appear suddenly on summer days.

By boat[edit]

If you are starting from Vancouver, catch the ferry from Horseshoe Bay or Tsawwassen to Nanaimo on BC Ferries, and drive the rest of the way.

In the summer you can catch the M.V. Frances Barkley from Port Alberni to Ucluelet (37km south from Tofino), 4.5 hours, $30 one-way.

By bus[edit]

Tofino Bus Island Express runs service in conjunction with Greyhound on Vancouver Island. Routes make stops in Nanaimo and Victoria (among others between Nanaimo and Tofino).

Get around[edit]

The town is small enough to walk through. A dedicated walking and bike path runs all the way down to Cox bay. A free shuttle bus with a surfboard rack runs hourly in the summer season giving access as far as Cox bay.

See[edit]

Pacific Rim National Park, Long Beach section
  • 1 Pacific Rim National Park, +1 250-726-3500, e-mail: pacrim.info@pc.gc.ca. Rocky headlands, long beaches, and wild surf, set against Vancouver Island's temperate rain forest. Entry is $7.80 for adults. Camping $24-$70/night. Parking fee $10/day. Many walking trails including long sandy beaches, rugged rocky coastline and boardwalks through old growth forests. Maps and information available visitor centers at Cox bay and the junction for Ucluelet and Tofino. Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on Wikipedia
  • Tofino Legion (Royal Canadian Legion Clayoquot Branch No 65), 331 Main, +1 250 725-3361. Various evenings. For over eight years, this hall has hosted so many community events that it's easy to forget it's still officially the membership hall of the veteran's association. Multiple concerts per week of a variety of music, over the summer. Most performers are for one night only. $12-$30.
  • Pacific Rim Whale Festival. March 17–25, 2012. A variety of art exhibits, films, museum installations, and tours in Tofino and Ucluelet, celebrating the spring migration of the grey whales.
  • Tofino Food and Wine Festival. June 2–5, 2011. A festival of gourmet meals, barbeques, and cooking classes, and farmers markets at restaurants and resorts around the region.
  • [dead link]Tofino Lantern Festival (at the Tofino Botanical Gardens). 7PM to 10:30PM Sunday, August 28th, 2011. An exhibition of beautiful lanterns, and workshops to make your own lanterns. $10/person, children 12 and under are free.
  • Atleo Air flightseeing, 50 Wingen Ln, +1 250 725-2205, toll-free: +1-866-662-8536, e-mail: atleo@seaviewcable.net. Offers a range of flights over the beautiful coasts and mountain glaciers of the area, with a good chance of seeing whales and other wildlife. Prices are per complete charter of a 4-seat aircraft. 20 minutes, $180/plane. 1.5 hours, $550/plane.

Do[edit]

Tofino is a popular tourist destination for visitors from around the world. The long sandy beaches south of town are the main attraction, as are whale watching, hot springs, and surfing. In the winter, many of the facilities close up. However, there are still a number of travellers who come to see the storm season. For hikers, Tofino is a gateway to the Island's backcountry. With a guide or on your own, explore amazing trails or paddle beautiful inlets. There is still a lot of wildlife, such as Orcas, Bald Eagles, and bears. Tofino and Clayoquot Sound is a world reowned kayaking destination offering wilderness experiences on daily trips between 2 - 6 hrs or even multi-day kayak adventures. Usually no previous experience is required.

  • The Whale Centre, 411 Campbell St, +1 250 725-2132, toll-free: +1-888-474-2288, fax: +1 250 725-2136, e-mail: whales@island.net. Daily at 10:30AM, 2PM, & 5PM. A 2.5-3 hour boat ride in a Boston Whaler through Clayoquot Sound, with commentary from guides. Gray whales are the most commonly seen variety. There is also a museum. Adults $74, Students/Seniors $69, Kids, ages 4 - 12 $54.
  • Hot Springs - Approximately 27 miles northwest of Tofino sits Hot Springs Cove, a natural hot spring that flows through interconnecting pools of various temperatures until finally reaching the ocean waters. The hot springs are accessible by boat or float plane, followed by a hike through the forest, and so a trip to the hot springs can offer both hiking and the potential for whale watching en route.
  • Long Beach Golf Course, 1850 Pacific Rim Hwy, +1 250 725-3332, e-mail: golf@island.net. Tucked around the end of the airport's runway 11, this 9-hole par 36 course also features an 18-hole minigolf course and a driving range. Easy walking distance from the airport and from Long Beach. 9 holes $25.80+tax, minigolf $7, club rentals $16.

Tofino is the surfing capital of Canada. There are only beach breaks in Tofino. Surfing (with a 5mm wet suit) is popular whenever the surf is up. Winter brings higher waves yet the temperature is still moderate enough to surf. There are 3 surfing beaches and all can get busy in the high season. Many surf shops in and out of town provide rentals and lessons (see Buy section)

  • Chesterman Beach (about 5km from downtown). Slightly sheltered by offshore islands, Chesterman Beach offers the best surfing for beginners. Parking lots at the north and south end.
  • 1 Cox Beach (next beach south after Chesterman). Often offers bigger waves than Chesterman's. Access from North parking lot with toilets and showers or South parking lot further from Tofino
  • Long Beach (in Pacific Rim National Park, near the Long Beach golf course and Long Beach Airport). Aptly named! This beach requires a parking pass.

Buy[edit]

  • Tofino Art Glass, 264 First St (go to the Flashing light and turn left), +1 250 725-3929. Open Daily. Handmade kilnformed glass trays, bowls, beach sand jewelry and custom art pieces.

Surfing:

  • Long Beach Surf Shop, 630 Campbell St, +1 250-725-3800. Offers a cheap and large selection of surfing rental gear. Lessons around $75, board rental $20 for 24 hours, $40 with wetsuit.

Eat[edit]

  • [dead link]Beachfront Bistro, 1119 Pacific Rim Highway (Tin Wis Resort), +1 250 725-4447.
  • Schooner Restaurant on Second, 331 Campbell St, +1 250 725-3444.
  • Shelter Restaurant, 601 Campbell St, +1 250 725-3353.
  • SoBo, 311 Neill St, +1 250 725-2341. Outstanding! Have the chowder, the killer fish taco and the tofu pockets. Lunch about $15 / person, Dinner for about $30 / person.
  • Red Can Gourmet, 700 Industrial Way, +1 250 725-2525. Gourmet take-out pizza, soups and seafood dishes.
  • The Pointe, Osprey Lane at Chesterman Beach (Wickaninnish Inn), +1-800-333-4604. Beautiful Pacific Northwest cuisine with ocean views (during daylight hours). Breakfast, lunch & dinner, at approx. $25/$35/$80/person.
  • Tough City Sushi Bar, 350 Main St, +1 250 725-2021. Excellent sushi restaurant. Dinner about $25/person.
  • The Common Loaf Bake Shop, 180 First St, +1 250 725-3915. Tofino's original whole foods bake shop for over 25 years. Homebaked breads, scones, goodies, pastas, pizzas and specialties, at approx. $15/person. Also known for its message-laden bulletin board.
  • The Wildside Grill, 1190 Pacific Rim Highway, +1 250 725-9453. Take-out food, burgers, seafood, salads.
  • 1 TacoFino Cantina, 1184 Pacific Rim Hwy, +1 250 725-8228. West coast influenced Mexican food out of a food truck. Tacos, burritos and gringas with a variety of fillings. under $10.
  • Club House Restaurant, Long Beach Golf Course, 1850 Pacific Rim Hwy, +1 250 725-3332, e-mail: golf@island.net. Fully licensed restaurant, open to golfers and flyers. Easy walking distance from the airport and from Long Beach.
  • Chocolate Tofino, 1180 Pacific Rim Highway (Beside Groovy Movies), +1 250 723-2526. M-Sa 10AM-7PM. Amazing hand made chocolates, truffles and homemade gelato. Very friendly place that the locals visit often. Best ice cream in Tofino and very family friendly. Best known for Honey Lavender Gelato, fresh organic chocolates and their "Hot Chocolate Elixir."

Drink[edit]

  • Tofino Brewing Co, 681 Industrial Way (Just south of town, can either drive or walk the well maintained Tonquin Connector Trail), +1-250-725-2899. Tofino's first and so far only brewery. You can see the operation, sample or buy their brews.

Sleep[edit]

During high season (May–September) hotels here are among the most expensive in BC. During the off-season better deals are available. If you don't mind the two hour drive, considerably cheaper accommodation is available in Port Alberni.

Hotels[edit]

  • 1 Best Western Tin Wis Hotel, 1119 Pacific Rim Highway (about 200 feet from the waters and beach of McKenzie Beach), +1 250 725-4445. Nice comfy hotel, reasonable accommodations for the area. First Nation owned and operated. $199-325 (less in the off-season).
  • Himwista Lodge, +1 250 725-2017, toll-free: +1-800-899-1947. Lodge with private hot tub and ocean view of Clayoquot Sound. Also with a full-serviced Sea Shanty Restaurant serving locally caught seafood. $150-350.
  • Middle Beach Lodge, +1 250 725-2900, toll-free: +1-866-725-2900. Picturesque hotel on rocky headland, with private beach, adults-only lodge, and a wide selection of rooms, suites, and cabins. $165-395.
  • Wickaninnish Inn, +1 250 725-3100, toll-free: +1-800-333-4604. An upscale hotel built on the rocks on Chesterman beach, Pointe Restaurant - a restaurant rated one of the best in Canada, and Ancient Cedars spa at Chesterman Beach. Member Relais & Chateaux. $340-1000+.
  • Pacific Sands Beach Resort, toll-free: +1-800-565-2322. Located beach front on spectacular Cox Bay offering spacious suite and villa accommodations ranging from 520 to 1,400 square feet. Eco and pet friendly. Rates range from $180 to $440 in the low season and $325 to 690 in the high season.
  • 2 Ocean Village Resort (OV), 555 Hellesen Dr, +1 250-725-3755, toll-free: +1-866-725-3755, e-mail: info@oceanvillageresort.com. Check-in: 3:00pm, check-out: 11:00am. These beehive cabins are located right on MacKenzie Beach, a few minutes from Tofino. There's a swimming pool, outdoor barbecue area and coin-operated laundry machine. Good value for money. Ranging $129 - $229 in low season and $299 - $529 in High season.

Hostels[edit]

  • Clayoquot Field Station at Tofino Botanical Gardens, 1084 Pacific Rim Hwy, +1 250 725-1220. Located on 12 acres of waterfront gardens, rain forest, paths and boardwalks. An educational facility that brings students researchers and travelers together for an introspective, quiet time. Dorm-style rooms and a private suite are available. Rate includes admission to Tofino Botanical Gardens. $32-120.
  • Whalers on the Point Guesthouse, 81 West St, +1 250 725-3443. Close to the center of Tofino. Affiliated with Hostelling International. A very pleasant place to stay. Both individual and dorm-style rooms are available. $25-120.

Campgrounds[edit]

In the summer the campgrounds are very popular. There are a number of public and private campgrounds in the Tofino area. Most of these operate from about Mid-March to October or November.

  • Green Point. Long Beach Unit, Pacific Rim National Park. 105 sites available, no hook-ups or showers. $14-20. (Reservations fee extra).
  • Bella Pacifica Campground. Nice spot on Mackenzie Bay, try to get one of the sites along the water. Surprisingly quiet most of the time, considering the number of people there.
  • Crystal Cove. Tucked away in a quiet cove on Mackenzie Beach it offers 72 full service campsites and 34 modern log cabins.
  • Long Beach Golf Course Campground, 1850 Pacific Rim Hwy (adjacent to golf course and airport), +1 250 725-3314, e-mail: golf@island.net. 76 camp sites, each with fire pit and picnic table. Shared washrooms, hot showers, running drinking water. Five full-hookup RV sites. Easy walking distance from the airport and from Long Beach. $30/night.

Vacation rentals[edit]

Private cabins, homes and condominiums are available year round. This option is ideal for couples, families or groups who desire a self-catered holiday.

Connect[edit]

Cell phones work in Tofino, but data connections can be very slow. Computers with Internet access are available at a few shops in town (such as the Tofino Pharmacy and Tofitian Coffee Shop). Free Wifi is available at Darwins Cafe at the Tofino Botanical Gardens.

Go next[edit]

Routes through Tofino
END  W BC-4.svg E  Ucluelet - Port AlberniNanaimo


This city travel guide to Tofino is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.