12 Things to Do in Tofino: What to Do In Canada’s Top Surf Town

Known by the locals as “the end of the road” and listed by National Geographic as a “place of a lifetime” destination, you get the feeling that going to Tofino will be well worth the road trip.

And a trip it will be — getting there is part of the sheer spectacle!

Head all the way west on Highway 4 to reach this surf town.

Tofino literally is the end of the road.

Located on the outermost west coast of Vancouver Island, BC, Tofino is the ultimate place to unplug and take a chill pill.

From the ancient landscapes that are deeply rooted as traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Region, you’ll find yourself steeped in the unrivaled beauty of Mother Nature.

Gorgeous any time of the year, there is no shortage of “what to do” with your time.

Here’s a mere taster of things to do, highlights of the town.

You’ll pleasantly discover that there are no downfalls of visiting Tofino!

1. Go Bear Watching

bear and cub tofino SP
bear watching in tofino

When people think of “The Island” they think of fishing, surfing, and hiking but one of the best hidden things to do in Tofino is…

bear watching!

The wildlife is diverse, and you can marvel at black bears in their natural habitat by boat tour.

Manned by guides, you’ll likely catch a sighting of a bear swiping salmon out of the waters.

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2. Go Beach Hopping

Low tide on Long Beach Vancouver Island bc
LONG BEACH, VANCOUVER ISLAND

The rugged coastline of Tofino is famous for its long wide beaches and rolling, world-class waves.

The options are endless here and you’ll be spoiled with choices!

The top 5 beaches in Tofino are:

 

Long Beach

With a name like Long Beach, it’s no surprise that this stretch of sandy coastline is the longest beach on the island, spanning 10 miles (16 km).

Long Beach is located within the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and provides amazing panoramic views of the ocean.

Best For: This beach is ideal for walking, surfing, jogging, and even storm watching.

 

Chesterman Beach

Located just off the Pacific Rim Highway, this beach is uber-popular with the locals and gets very crowded.

If you want a quiet and secluded beach, this is not the beach for you!

Best For: This beach is ideal for walking, surfing, and exploring sea caves.

 

Cox Bay

Surfing is one of the must do’s in Tofino and with a nickname like “Surf Beach”, this beach is known as one of the top surfing spots here.

Located south of Chesterman Beach and north of Long Beach, Cox Bay is home to many surfing competitions due to its ideal conditions.

Best For: This beach is ideal for surfing.

 

MacKenzie Beach

Located north of Chesterman Beach, the waters at MacKenzie Beach are much calmer than the other beaches making it perfect for stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and swimming.

Best For: This beach is a little more secluded making it an excellent option if you’re looking for a relaxing atmosphere.

 

Wickaninnish Beach

Located south of Long Beach and named after the great Chief Wickaninnish, this beach is the classic example of a postcard.

Best For: The location and beauty of Wickaninnish Beach makes it ideal for beach exploring and snapping photos for the ‘gram.

3. Spend Time Storm Watching

Wave splashing at Cox Bay tofino
WAVES AT COX BAY

Anywhere else in the world, the winter rainstorms from December to January would be a total wash for tourism and declared off-season.

But not in Tofino, and not your average blustery day!

The waves during storm watch season in this part of the world can roll up to a mind-bending 20-feet.

Storm watching is a seasonal activity and an exhilarating chase for some, making it one of the best things to do in Tofino during the winter.

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4. Catch Some Surfing Waves

surfer at Chesterman Beach tofino bc
SURFER AT CHESTERMAN BEACH

Being one of the top cold-water surf destinations in the world, you obviously can’t miss out on surfing in Tofino.

Prestigious competitions like the O’Neill Cold Water Classic were held here in the past.

This town is considered Canada’s surfing capital and you can surf any time of the year if you really wanted to.

Catching some gnarly waves during the storm season might come to mind, but you definitely want to leave those waves for storm watching instead and head to the beach in the summer for surfing!

During the peak summer months, waves crest at 2-5 feet on average, and even then, these waves will seem monstrous for any beginner surfer.

5. Indulge in Food & Drinks

food and drinks on table SP
BAR FOOD AT TOFINO RESTAURANT

By now, you must be getting hungry and wondering what’s there to eat in Tofino.

You’ve come to the right place because this quaint little town is full of places where you can feast all night long!

There are a number of stand-out and popular Tofino restaurants to choose from.

Shelter Restaurant, Kuma Tofino, and Wolf in the Fog are all popular digs.

Love Tacofino? Grab one of their famous fish tacos at the original Tacofino food truck that started it all.

If that all sounds like too much, grab take-out from the Wildside Grill and head to the beach to watch the fog roll in.

Many food festivals are held here annually and it’s absolutely a foodie’s paradise.

If you visit at the right time, you’ll get to indulge at the Tofino Food & Wine Festival held during the first week of June, or the Clayoquot Oyster Festival in November, just to name a few.

Do you have a sweet tooth you just can’t seem to shake?

Two words for you: Chocolate Tofino.

chocolate tofino bc NL
Source: Chocolate Tofino

A to-die-for chocolate shop and gelateria that uses local ingredients such as sweet Vancouver Island honey and freshly foraged blackberries.

A favorite dessert place amongst the locals and visitors alike, be sure to try out their handmade gelato.

Rumor has it when there’s a power outage, ice cream sells at half-price!

Another hot tip: ask to see their secret menu that features naughty flavors with what the owner refers to as “pretty un-kid friendly” rum raisins!

6. Go Deep Sea Fishing

deep sea fishing tofino bc
DEEP SEA FISHING IN TOFINO

Deep sea fishing is one of the best things to do in Tofino, the perfect outing not just for the avid fisherman but also fares well with the family too.

Whether you land the catch of the day or not, guaranteed you’ll be inspired by the natural beauty that’s in sight everywhere you look, including the Clayoquot Sound Mountains that serve as the most breathtaking backdrop.

There are teems of good fishing spots and a whole variety of exciting fish to catch off the coast of Tofino.

Booking an offshore charter fishing tour will ensure you’ll get to tackle the secret fishing spots only the local guides know of!

The best time for deep sea fishing in Tofino is during the summer, from June to September.

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7. Go Whale Watching

whale watching tofino bc
WHALE WATCHING IN TOFINO

March and April is the best time to take an open-ocean adventure trip to see gray whales.

These majestic creatures leave their winter breeding grounds in Mexico and migrate along the coast on their way to Alaska.

Orcas show up unexpectedly during the spring, summer, and fall.

If you’re vacationing in Tofino during the summer, you might just get a glimpse of the humpback whales in the waters of Clayoquot Sound!

8. Go Sea Kayaking

kayaking in tofino bc
KAYAKING IN TOFINO

Learn what makes the Tofino wilderness special by embarking on a sea kayaking adventure.

Tofino Sea Kayaking provides guided tours that take you through the waters of Clayoquot Sound, while educating visitors on the significance and honoring the traditional territories of the Tla-o-qui-aht, Ahousaht, and Hesquit First Nations.

9. Go Camping

camping in british columbia canada
CAMPING IN THE WILDERNESS

Everyone’s camping style is different and the options in Tofino definitely do not disappoint.

From “roughin’ it” to luxe glamping adventures, there’s a campsite spot with an unforgettable ocean view waiting for you.

If you’re booking a provincial campground, reservations are required from June to October and on weekends and holidays throughout the year.

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10. Discover Hiking Trails in Tofino

Boardwalk through lush rainforest Pacific Rim bc
Boardwalk at pacific rim

From easy walks in the park to ankle-breaking rugged terrain like the Lone Cone Trail, there are plenty of hiking trails in Tofino where you can catch a breath of fresh air.

The meandering trails at Pacific Rim National Park are easy-going and you can spend the day getting “lost” around the many inlets.

If you want to see something truly amazing, check out the Big Tree Trail. The aptly named trail features some of the largest trees in British Columbia.

This old-growth forest is home to trees that are over 1000 years old!

To get here you need to take a short water taxi ride from Tofino.

11. Relax at Tofino Hot Springs Cove

If you love relaxing in hot springs then you’ll want to add this to your Tofino bucket list!

The Hot Springs Cove has 7 natural rock pools of geothermal water, perfect for reviving your weary muscles after a long hike.

To get here you’ll need to take a 20-minute floatplane ride from Tofino or an 80-minute long water taxi ride.

The narrow rocky entrance to the springs and fantastic views of the ocean make this a truly unique experience.

Be sure to bring water shoes or footwear with some grip as the rocks are quite slippery!

12. Visit Pacific Rim National Park

trail at Pacific Rim National Park bc
TRAIL AT PACIFIC RIM NATIONAL PARK

Pacific Rim National Park is known as one of the most amazing parks in Canada and a top Tofino attraction with beauty at every turn.

Walk through the vibrant emerald rainforest on one of many hiking trails and you’ll come across the stunning coastline.

Or take a quiet stroll on the pristine beaches and marvel at the incredible natural surroundings.

Pacific Rim National Park is located between Ucluelet and Tofino, a 3-hour drive from the Nanaimo Ferry Terminal.

While it’s free to drive through the park, you’ll need to pay a fee if you want to stay and explore.

Bonus: Explore Ucluelet

waves at ucluelet vancouver island bc
WAVES AT A BEACH IN UCLUELET

If you’re visiting Tofino and have time to spare, why not take a short trip south to Ucluelet.

There are many things to do in Ucluelet, including:

 

The Wild Pacific Trail

Go for a leisure hike with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, the lush old-growth forests, and even a 100-year-old lighthouse!

 

Ucluelet Aquarium

Check out the diverse marine life of the Pacific Northwest. An excellent family-friendly thing to do in Ucluelet, especially when it’s raining cats and dogs (as it does most of the year on the West Coast).

All marine life housed here are caught and released back into the wild. This guarantees that the exhibits at the Ucluelet Aquarium always remain new and interesting.

 

Long Beach

We’re pretty sure you’re familiar with Long Beach by now, but in case you’re not, this is the iconic beach that spans 10 miles (16 km) between Tofino and Ucluelet.

Head south from Tofino and check out the other end of Long Beach!

Top Tofino Hotels & Accommodations

Cox Bay Beach Tofino Canada bc SP
SUNSET AT COX BAY BEACH

Top Hotel in Tofino

Wickaninnish Inn

Wickaninnish Inn tofino sm
Source: TripAdvisor

If you’re looking to splurge, Wickaninnish Inn is a great place to stay. Don’t let the exterior fool you, the interior is beautifully designed with floor to ceiling windows, giving you the best views to wake up to.

Top Lodge in Tofino

Middle Beach Lodge

middle beach lodge sm
Source: TripAdvisor

Looking for a quiet retreat? The gorgeous rustic accommodations at Middle Beach Lodge will be your sanctuary.

Step outside and you’ll be surrounded by the lush rainforests to the east and an endless stretch of waterfront to the west.

Top Airbnb in Tofino

Cox Bay Cottage

If you’d rather live like a local, there’s always Airbnb.

The Cox Bay Cottage is a modern take on a cottage with many excellent amenities. The location is prime as it’s tucked between two of the top beaches in Tofino, Chesterman Beach and Cox Bay.

Final Thoughts

Everyone needs a little island time, and you can see why.

Tofino is a place full of natural wonders to explore, waves to surf, and a relaxing vibe you won’t find in the big cities.

It’s the perfect sanctuary to visit when you want to disappear and disconnect from the world.

Relax and unwind in one of the many oceanfront Tofino hideaways and you’ll see why it’s so easy to fall in love with this place.

It may be the “end of the road” but it’s a beautiful end and you really need to be here to find out what it’s like!

We hope this article has helped you find your favorite things to do in Tofino.

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