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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.

Understand[edit]

View from Tofino toward Meares Island

Tofino Inlet was named in 1792 by the Spanish explorers Galiano and Valdés, in honour of Admiral Vicente Tofiño de San Miguel y Wanderiales (or Vanderiales), under whom Galiano had learned cartography.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

Tofino is only reachable by traveling east on Highway 4, which starts near Qualicum Beach. 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 160 km to the Highway 4 turnoff west to Port Alberni.

By plane[edit]

Airport[edit]

  • 1 Tofino-Ucluelet Airport (YAZ IATA also known as Long Beach Airport) (is located 19 kilometers south-east of Tofino, on the Pacific Rim Highway (Hwy 4)), +1 250-725-3751, . It is in Pacific Rim National Park, and just across the highway from Long Beach. 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. Tofino/Long Beach Airport (Q1433066) on Wikidata Tofino/Long Beach Airport on Wikipedia

Airline[edit]

Seaplanes[edit]

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), 4½ hours, $30 one-way.

By bus[edit]

Get around[edit]

Map of Tofino

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.

By taxi[edit]

By ride hailing[edit]

By bicycle and foot[edit]

A multi use bike and foot path runs along the north side of Highway 4 with a space between the path and the highway. The path connects with the multi use path that travels throughout Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, which travels near the south side of the highway. It is possible to travel from Ucluelet by multi use path, except for a 1.2 km section immediately south of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, where travel would need to be done on Highway 4 in an area with narrow shoulders. Construction to close the 1.2 km gap in the multi use path is to be completed by Summer 2023.

See[edit]

Pacific Rim National Park, Long Beach section
  • 1 Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, +1 250-726-3500, . 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 (Q1756401) on Wikidata Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on Wikipedia
  • 2 Tofino Legion (Royal Canadian Legion Clayoquot Branch No 65), 331 Main, +1 250 725-3361. Various evenings. This hall hosts so many community events that it's easy to forget it's a 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.
  • 3 Naa'Waya'Sum Gardens, 1084 Pacific Rim Highway, +1 250 725-1220. 9 AM - 5 PM. 12 acres of forest, shoreline, and garden, with lots of educational exhibits. Also a cafe and gift shop. Adults $20, Students/Seniors $10, Children 12 & under free.
  • 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.
  • Pacific Rim Summer Festival. First week in July. Art exhibitions in Tofino and Ucluelet. By the Pacific Rim Arts Society. Live performances in Tofino, Ucluelet and area. Dance workshops. Free outdoor concert. Performances in Tofino and Ucluelet on Canada Day, Celebration of Indigenous culture, Ballet Victoria, Pop Up Art Market, Kids Art Zone (throughout the summer), local and guest performances.
  • Tofino Food and Wine Festival, Various locations. First weekend in June. A festival of gourmet meals, barbeques, and cooking classes, and farmers markets at restaurants and resorts around the region.
  • Tofino Lantern Festival (at the Tofino Botanical Gardens). Second Saturday in August, 7:30PM to 10:30PM. An exhibition of beautiful lanterns, and workshops to make your own lanterns. $15/person, children 12 and under are free.
  • 4 Atleo Air flightseeing, 50 Wingen Ln, +1 250 725-2205, toll-free: +1-866-662-8536, . 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, $240/plane. 1½ hours, $725/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 renowned kayaking destination offering wilderness experiences on daily trips between 2 - 6 hr or even multi-day kayak adventures. Usually no previous experience is required.

  • 1 West Coast Aquatic Safaris, 101 A Fourth St, toll-free: +1-877-594-2537, . Daily departures at 9:30AM, 12:30PM and 3:30PM. West Coast Aquatic Safaris is an optimal way to experience BC’s whales, nature, hotsprings and wildlife; a must-do while visiting Tofino.
  • 2 Jamie's Whaling Station, 606 Campbell St, +1 250-725-3919, toll-free: +1 800-667-9913, . Go on a whale watching tour. Whale watching is from late-February to late-October. From $129.
  • 3 The Whale Centre, 411 Campbell St, +1 250 725-2132, toll-free: +1-888-474-2288, fax: +1 250 725-2136, . Daily at 10:30AM, 2PM, & 5PM. A 2½-3 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 mi (43 km) 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.
  • 4 Black Bear Kayaking, 634 Campbell St, +1 250 725-3238.
  • 5 Long Beach Golf Course, 1850 Pacific Rim Hwy, +1 250 725-3332, . 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.

Surfing[edit]

Surfing locations[edit]

Tofino is the surfing capital of Canada. There are only beach breaks in Tofino. Surfing (with a 5mm wet suit, like everybody else surfing here) 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

  • 6 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.
  • 7 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
  • 8 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.

Surfing gear and lessons[edit]

Bicycling[edit]

  • 13 The Candy Jar, 366 Campbell St, +1 250-725-8132, . While this store is named after its business of selling candy and ice cream, this store also rents bicycles, electric bicycles, and electric scooters.
  • 14 Tofino Bike Co, 1180 Pacific Rim Hwy, +1 250-266-7655. Rents and repairs bicycles. Also rents bicycle accessories including surf racks to carry surf boards, and child seats and chariots to carry children. Does not offer electric bikes.
  • 15 Tofino Electric Bikes, 435 Main St, +1 250-522-0203. Rents electric bikes. Rents electric bike accessories including child chariots, pet trailers, and cargo trailers. Does not rent non-electric bicycles.

Buy[edit]

  • 1 [dead link] Clayoquot Crafts, 671 Industrial Way, +1 250 725-3990. Outdoor furniture handcrafted from salvaged local western red cedar.
  • 2 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.
  • 3 Canadian Native Art Gallery (House of Himwitsa), 300 Main St, +1 (250) 725-2017, . 9:30AM-5PM. First Nations owned and operated art gallery selling masks, carvings and jewelry made by indigenous artists. It also has a wild-caught smoked Pacific salmon fish store that opens seasonally.

Eat[edit]

Drink[edit]

  • 1 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 2 hour drive each way, 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).
  • 2 Himwista Lodge, 300 Main St, +1 250 725-2017, toll-free: +1-800-899-1947. Check-in: 3PM-9PM, check-out: 5AM-11AM. 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.
  • 3 Middle Beach Lodge, 400 Mackenzie Beach Rd, +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.
  • 4 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.
  • 5 Pacific Sands Beach Resort, toll-free: +1-800-565-2322. At the 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.
  • 6 Ocean Village Resort (OV), 555 Hellesen Dr, +1 250-725-3755, toll-free: +1-866-725-3755, . Check-in: 3:00pm, check-out: 11:00am. These beehive cabins are 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.
  • 7 Tofino Resort + Marina, 634 Campbell St., toll-free: +1 855-956-1258, . Check-in: 4pm, check-out: 11am. Waterfront hotel and affordable accommodations that are pet-friendly with an Adventure Centre, gym, dining and pub overlooking the bay. Rooms from $89 to $179 for great value.

Hostels[edit]

  • 8 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.

  • 9 [formerly dead link] Green Point. Long Beach Unit, Pacific Rim National Park. 105 sites available, no hook-ups or showers. $14-20. (Reservations fee extra).
  • 10 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.
  • 11 Crystal Cove. Tucked away in a quiet cove on Mackenzie Beach it offers 72 full service campsites and 34 modern log cabins.
  • 12 Long Beach Golf Course Campground, 1850 Pacific Rim Hwy (adjacent to golf course and airport), +1 250 725-3314, . 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  Pacific Rim National Park ReserveParksville / Qualicum Beach


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.