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With around 2,500 residents, Tofino may be small, but don’t let that fool you – there are plenty of amazing things to do in this tiny surfing town.
For anyone who enjoys the great outdoors, Tofino is a stop you shouldn’t miss on your travels through British Columbia. Whether you’re going from Vancouver to Tofino, driving here from Victoria, or taking the three-hour road trip from Nanaimo, this town is one of the most beautiful places on Vancouver Island.
Not only does Tofino boast amazing natural scenery and the best waves in Canada, but the town itself also oozes charm. There are plenty of independent coffee shops and eateries to explore, as well as cute boutiques with an incredible range of locally-made artisan goods.
Basically, Tofino is the perfect place to unwind and soak up some small-town Canadian culture.
We’ve got a guide to 35 absolutely epic things to do in Tofino, BC so you can make the most of your time in this special corner of the world.
- The BEST Things to do in Tofino, BC
- 3. Enjoy local craft beer
- 4. Go kayaking
- 5. Visit the weekly Farmers’ Market
- 6. Go fishing
- 7. Explore Pacific Rim National Park
- 8. Long Beach
- 9. Radar Hill
- 10. Canso Plane Crash
- 11. Wickaninnish Beach
- 12. Rain Forest Trail
- 13. Ride in a seaplane
- 14. Eat at iconic local eateries
- 15. Try smoked salmon
- 16. Wander the local art galleries
- 17. Walk the waterfront viewpoints and wharf in town
- 18. Stay in a seaside dome
- 19. Go whale watching
- 20. Enjoy a coffee and treat with a view
- 21. Sample craft cocktails at Tofino Distillery
- 22. Check out the artwork around town
- 23. Watch a sunset at Cox Bay Beach
- 24. Go camping!
- 25. Visit the hot springs
- 26. Try the ice cream at Tofino Chocolate
- 27. Walk the Tonquin Trail
- 28. Try to see a bear
- 29. Golf!
- 30. Shop ’til you drop
- 31. Walk the Ancient Cedars Trail
- 32. Day trip to Ucluelet
- 33. Wander the Botanic Gardens and visit Little Costa Rica cafe
- 34. Visit the local museum
- 35. Go cycling
- Where to Stay in Tofino, BC
- Thanks for reading!
The BEST Things to do in Tofino, BC
If you’re only going to do one thing in Tofino, BC, it has to be surfing.
What’s great about Tofino is that it’s an ideal place for beginners to learn to surf, but the pros love it too!
Best time of year for surfing in Tofino:
Ask any Tofino local and they’ll tell you that the fall is the best time of year to hit the waves. This is when the water is at its warmest, the winds are just right, and there are fewer crowds than in the summer months. For this reason, many surf events are held in the fall, such as the Women’s Canadian Surf Championships.
The summer is also a great time for beginners to surf in Tofino, as the waves are generally gentler. Tofino is busier at this time, but it doesn’t tend to get overcrowded. As surf towns go, this is still a bit of a hidden gem.
Best surf beaches in Tofino:
There are three main surf beaches in Tofino: Cox Bay, Chesterman Beach, and Long Beach.
Cox Bay is THE place to surf in Tofino and is a great spot for beginners. It’s a beautiful bay that’s popular with pretty much everyone, from beginners to pros. There are a handful of surf schools and rental shops around here, but we’ll dive more into that in a moment.
There are actually two Chesterman beaches: north and south. North Chesterman tends to be the more reliable of the two – there’s always a wave to be caught here. South Chesterman can be great, but the conditions need to be just right, so it’s best to check the weather report before you make your way here. In general, though, both beaches have gentle waves that are great for beginners.
Long Beach is a little further out of town, but it’s very beautiful. There’s also a parking lot where you can hang out for a while and watch the waves roll in. As the name suggests, the beach is very long, and you should be careful if you’re surfing close to Lovekin Rock because the rip can be dangerous. This beach is better for more experienced surfers.
Board rental and lessons
We rented our boards from Surf Grove Campground on Cox Beach. We paid $55 CAD each for a 24-hour rental, and this price included a wetsuit. However, there are plenty of other choices around town in Tofino. Pacific Surf Co, Tofino Paddle Surf, and Swell Tofino are all popular options.
The board rental shops also offer surf lessons. If you’ve never surfed before, then you should definitely consider taking a lesson. It’s great fun and you’ll be able to enjoy the rest of your time in Tofino so much more once you’ve mastered the basics. Expect to pay around $90 CAD per person for a two-hour group lesson, or $199 CAD for a private 1:1 session.
2. Hike to Cox Bay Lookout
There are quite a few great hikes around Tofino but our favorite by far is Cox Bay Lookout.
It’s a short hike, but by no means is it easy. For 20 minutes, you’ll be on a trail that’s practically vertical, so be prepared to sweat.
However, all of your hard work will be worth it once you get to the lookout point. Here, you can soak in the views of Cox Beach and the mountains in the distance. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and you’ll likely want to stay here for quite a while to take it all in.
To get started, head to the left end of Cox Bay Beach (when facing the ocean) and take one of the trails. There are many paths to choose from but they all lead up to the same lookout point, so you can’t go wrong. Be warned, though, the trails can get pretty muddy and slippery when it rains, so it’s best to tackle this one on a drier day.
The Cox Bay Lookout Point is an extra special place for us because our best friends got engaged here! It really is the perfect spot to enjoy the views with someone you love.
Related read: If you’re looking for more romantic spots in BC, check out our guide to planning a Vancouver honeymoon!
3. Enjoy local craft beer
Enjoying craft beer is one of the best things to do in BC for a reason! The province has an amazing craft beer scene and Tofino is certainly no exception. There are some really great breweries here, and we definitely recommend spending an afternoon (or two) sampling some of the local brews.
We visited Tofino Brewing, which is just outside of the town center, and loved their beers. It also has a huge indoor and outdoor area, so you can enjoy the sun or stay warm and dry inside depending on the weather.
Ucluelet Brewing is further out of town, but definitely worth the 40-minute drive. It’s a big barn that feels quintessentially Canadian, and the beer is fantastic. From German-style ales to margarita-inspired brews, you’re guaranteed to find something new and interesting here.
4. Go kayaking
Kayaking is a great way to explore the coastline and get a good arm workout while you’re at it!
We took a tour through Paddle West Kayaking and had such a great time. They have quite a few tours available in Tofino.
We went for the Islands option, which gives you the chance to see Tofino’s beautiful shores and channels and lasts for 2.5 hours. It costs $74 CAD and includes everything you need, like a kayak, paddle, and life jacket.
They’ve also got options to explore the rainforest or to paddle all the way to Vargas Island, which is a full-day experience. You can also take a 6-hour Barkley Sound kayaking tour, which sounds amazing and is on our Tofino bucket list for next time!
Of course, you don’t have to take a guided tour. You can also just rent your own kayak and head out by yourself. It costs $60 CAD for a half-day single kayak rental or $80 CAD for a double.
Whatever you decide to do, we recommend going first thing in the morning because this is when the waters are the calmest. It’s definitely worth the early start – just maybe don’t schedule a kayaking session for the day after you hit the craft breweries!
5. Visit the weekly Farmers’ Market
The Tofino Market is open every Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm, rain or shine, from May until October.
On the Tofino Village Green, you’ll find lots of homemade goods to browse, including jams and relishes, freshly-baked goods, artisan soaps, jewelry, and more. There are some incredible food stands and live music starts at 12 pm, so it’s a good chance to check out some local talent.
The Market is one of the best weekend Tofino activities. We highly recommend heading there on a Saturday morning, grabbing some breakfast and coffee, and just chilling for a while. It’s also a great place to find souvenirs for your friends and family if you’re so inclined.
Related Read: One of the best farmer’s market we ever went to was on Salt Spring Island, not too far from Victoria.
6. Go fishing
Fishing is one of the top things to do in Tofino and it’s easy to see why – the area is teeming with salmon and squid.
Tofino Harbour is a great place to try your hand at fishing, and you don’t even need a boat! There’s a public pier where you can fish for free or there’s the option to join a guided fishing charter.
If the latter sounds good to you, then this full-day tour will take you to Clayoquot Sound, where you’ll have the chance to spot whales and black bears as well as catch some fish. It’s a super fun and relaxing experience, and the boat can take a group of up to 8 people. At $2,000 CAD it’s not the cheapest Tofino activity, but the boat is state-of-the-art and the price includes all of your fishing equipment and pays for up to 8, so you can split the cost with family or friends.
Some of the other top fishing spots around Tofino include Wilf Rock, Barney Rocks, and Bartlett Island.
Related read: Another thing to do on Vancouver Island is check out the annual salmon run. It’s one of the best things to do in Port Alberni!
7. Explore Pacific Rim National Park
Pacific Rim National Park is absolutely stunning, and you can’t miss the chance to visit while you’re in Tofino.
Covering 511 square kilometers (197 square miles), this enormous park is made up of three distinct areas – Long Beach, the Broken Group Islands, and the West Coast Trail. Long Beach is closest to Tofino, whereas you’ll need to take a boat out to the Broken Group Islands.
From birding and boating to camping and mountain biking, there’s something for everyone here.
If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend heading to the Visitor Center, where the friendly staff will help you plan your trip. We’ve also included our favorite hikes and beaches in the park as their own separate points below so that you can choose what sounds most appealing to you.
There are different types of Pacific Rim passes available depending on the duration of your stay and what you plan on doing in the park. It costs $10.50 CAD for an adult day pass, $6.50 CAD for a beach pass and $34.95 CAD for a serviced overnight camping pitch with electricity. There are also annual passes available.
8. Long Beach
We already gave Long Beach a brief mention when discussing Tofino’s top surf spots, but we think it deserves its very own section because it’s a total must-visit.
Even if you’re not into surfing, this is a lovely beach for hanging out and chilling. There are rocks that you can climb on and tide pools to explore. It’s also so nice to just walk along and soak up the views.
It’s a huge beach, so you’ll have plenty of space and don’t need to worry about overcrowding, even during peak season.
This really is an idyllic spot for a beach day in Tofino! It’s stunning on a sunny day with the sun sparkling off the water, but the misty, rainy days have their own magic to them … plus you’ll basically have the beach to yourself those days!
9. Radar Hill
Hiking Radar Hill is one of the best things to do in Tofino, BC because you get a big reward for very little effort!
You can drive here and park really close to the hill, and then it’s just 100 meters to the viewpoint. Once you’re up here, you get 360-degree views of the surrounding area. It’s absolutely beautiful and honestly, the photos that we saw prior to visiting didn’t do this spot any justice at all.
You might be wondering how this hill got its name … well, there was actually a radar station on this very hill during World War II. It was part of a collection of radar systems that would help warn of any potential air strikes on North America.
Now, it’s a perfect walk for those who don’t want to do super long and difficult hikes, or who are simply short on time. It’s absolutely stunning and you definitely won’t regret it.
10. Canso Plane Crash
If you’re looking for a super unique hike that’s off the beaten track, the Canso Plane Crash hike is for you. It’s a super easy walk through a forest, and it takes around two hours.
The story of the crash is pretty interesting and happily, no one died. During the Second World War, a Royal Canadian Air Force Canso bomber plane malfunctioned and crashed into the forest in Pacific Rim National Park. Luckily, the pilot managed to stall the plane and slow down the descent so the entire crew survived and were rescued from the area.
Hiking to the wreckage is an experience that you won’t find anywhere else – I mean, how often do you get to see the remains of a WWII plane in the middle of a forest? However, Parks Canada isn’t too keen on people hiking here, so there’s not a lot of information about it online.
With that being said, once you arrive at the trail, it is well-signposted. Park at the Radar Hill parking lot and then you can find the starting point on Google maps. From there, it’s easy to follow. The trail is maintained by Pkra Canada (although they don’t promote it.)
11. Wickaninnish Beach
Wickaninnish Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Pacific Rim National Park and is home to many upscale resorts. It’s easy to access, although you will need a Park Pass to do so.
This beach is also a starting point for many of the park’s hikes, such as the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail. It’s also a popular spot for storm-watching during the winter. Meanwhile, in the summer, many people flock here for beachcombing.
We just popped by for sunset to enjoy a delicious charcuterie board. Can you imagine a better way to end the day?
12. Rain Forest Trail
The Rainforest Trail is one of the top outdoor Tofino attractions, and it’s really popular with locals and tourists alike. Again, this trail can be found inside the national park and there are two routes, both of which are nice and easy. It’s also very pretty, and you’ll see lots of magnificent old Cedar and Douglas Fir trees as you amble through the forest.
Route A is 1.2 kilometers (0.7 miles) long and requires you to cross the highway next to the parking lot entrance, don’t worry, there is are lights and a pedestrian crossing here. After that, follow the wooden boardwalk into the forest. From there, the trail is very easy to stick to.
Route B is 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) long and starts on the right of the parking lot. Again, it’s very pretty; you’ll feel like you’ve entered a fairytale forest as you pass old trees, trickling streams, and lots of lush vegetation. There are also a few viewpoints along the way where you can stop and admire the scenery from above.
Related read: For more beautiful trails nearby, check out the best easy hikes in Vancouver!
13. Ride in a seaplane
One of the coolest things to do in Tofino is to take a seaplane ride. You’ll get to see the coastline from up above and it’s a really unique way to travel.
You can take a seaplane between Tofino and Vancouver, which is not only an unforgettable experience but also the most convenient way to travel between the two. You can either choose this flight from Vancouver to Tofino or this flight that leaves Tofino to head back to Vancouver.
The flight takes around an hour, so it’s significantly faster than driving to Swartz Bay near Victoria and taking the ferry, which is your other option.
If you’ve got some room for flexibility in your itinerary, you can also reschedule your booking as many times as you want to ensure that you fly during the best weather conditions, as long as you do it more than 24 hours in advance. This is what we did during our Vancouver seaplane flight, and after changing the day twice, it paid off and we got a sunny day with the BEST views!
Related read: If you aren’t afraid of heights, another great way to enjoy stellar BC views is on a ziplining tour in Whistler!
14. Eat at iconic local eateries
Tofino is home to some amazing eateries, so you definitely won’t go hungry here.
For breakfast, head to the Rhino Coffee House, where you can get delicious coffee and fresh donuts. For something a little different, try the bro-nut, a savory donut-based version of a breakfast bagel! Or, try Savary Island Pie Company. Their waterfront location makes it the perfect spot to grab a coffee and enjoy those morning views!
Later in the day, we highly recommend a visit to Tacofino, which started right here in Tofino (as you can probably guess from the name!). They now have several locations all over British Columbia (including one of the best restaurants in Gastown, Vancouver), but the OG truck is still parked right here in Tofino.
SoBo (short for “Sophisticated Bohemian”) is another fantastic spot that’s known for its locally-sourced and seasonal menu. Although it’s now a full-service restaurant, it began life as a food truck in downtown Tofino. You can’t make reservations, but it’s definitely worth turning up and trying to get a table here.
Our personal favorite, though, had to be Shelter Restaurant. It serves up amazing fresh food and a selection of local craft beers. Plus, there’s a gorgeous outdoor patio offering beautiful ocean views. It’s the perfect place to relax and watch the world go by.
15. Try smoked salmon
British Columbia is famous for its wild salmon and there’s no better place to try it than in Tofino! The Dockside Smoked Fish Store has 19 varieties of smoked fish, including many types of salmon. We recommend either the candied or the chili salmon – or, ideally, both! It’s absolutely delicious and so much better than anything you’ll ever find in the supermarket.
It costs around $11 CAD per pound (or $22 CAD per kilogram) of salmon and the store stocks a selection of products with a long expiry date in case you want to take some home for family and friends.
Salmon has been smoked on Vancouver Island for generations, and it is a popular way for the First Nations people to preserve the fish. Thus this is not only a tasty treat but a cultural experience!
16. Wander the local art galleries
Tofino is a laid-back, artistic beach town, so it’s only right that you take some time to explore the local galleries.
We had a great time visiting the Roy Henry Vickers Gallery. Roy Henry Vickers is a world-renowned First Nations artist whose work was used in the Canadian bid for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, given as a gift to Queen Elizabeth II, and featured in galleries all over the world. In his Tofino gallery, you can see his incredible prints, carvings, and paintings. The gallery is open Thursday to Monday from 10 am to 5 pm.
The Mark Hobson Gallery is just down the road from Roy Henry, and it’s also worth a visit. The man himself was born in Tofino but lived all over the world growing up and loves to capture wilderness landscapes in his work. His gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm.
The House of Himwitsa, meanwhile, is a First Nations-owned native art gallery where you can learn more about the Indigenous Canadian culture and buy some incredible hand-crafted souvenirs. The gallery is open daily from 9:30 am to 5 pm. It’s also right next to the Dockside Smoked Fish store, so you can tick off these two activities together!
17. Walk the waterfront viewpoints and wharf in town
Tofino is so scenic that even a simple walk feels like an adventure!
You should definitely stroll along the waterfront to take in the views, and we highly recommend heading to Anchor Park. This is a picturesque little spot where you can relax and enjoy the views – ideally with a coffee from Rhino Coffee, which is just around the corner. The small park overlooks the harbor, has a stunning totem pole and you can read up on some of Tofino’s history on the plaque next to the historic anchor in the park.
The dock near the Pacific Terminus Sign also has great views, and you can walk right out onto it to get a closer look at the water. This is a good spot for photos, too! This is a nice spot to watch the sunset and there’s a little beach for kids to play on if you’re here as a family.
18. Stay in a seaside dome
Who wouldn’t want to spend the night in your very own seaside dome? Tofino is the perfect place for a bit of glamping, and you can do it right on the waterfront!
Wildpod is a family-owned glamping experience within walking distance of all of Tofino’s amenities. Each pod features marshmallow-like beds, fairy lights, a fireplace, and, best of all, a 5-meter (16-foot) wide skylight.
Pods cost between $265-$465 CAD depending on the season, the type of pod, and the day of the week you choose to stay. It’s a splurge, but there’s really nothing better than waking up to a gorgeous ocean view.
19. Go whale watching
Whale watching is one of the most exciting Tofino activities because this is one of the best places in Canada to see these magnificent creatures. Out of all of the places to go whale watching on Vancouver Island, Tofino is one of very best!
Jamie’s Whaling Station offers eco-friendly tours led by knowledgeable local guides, and you can choose either a cruiser or a zodiac tour. The former is ideal for relaxing and riding in comfort, while the latter is a more adrenaline-fuelled experience that gives you access to more remote locations.
Either way, you’re likely to see grey whales, and possibly killer and humpback whales. It’s also common to see otters, sea lions, seals, and eagles on whale-spotting tours.
Tours run between February and November each year. Grey whales and orcas are frequently spotted during this time, while summer is the best time to catch a glimpse of a humpback whale. Boats depart multiple times per day and tours last between 2.5 and 3 hours for $129 CAD per person.
Related read: Whale watching is also one of the best activities in Victoria! We loved this half-day whale watching adventure looking for orcas and humpback whales.
20. Enjoy a coffee and treat with a view
Wake up early one morning and head down to the Savary Island Pie Company along the waterfront.
Admittedly, these pies and baked treats are amazing at any time of day, but there’s something really magical about the area early in the morning when it’s super quiet. The bakery opens at 7 am (one of the first restaurants in town to open) and serves up sweet and savory pies that are totally out-of-this-world. The smell alone is enough to make your mouth water!
Grab yourself a coffee and a treat and head outside to enjoy the view. I could honestly sit here for hours … it’s breathtaking!
21. Sample craft cocktails at Tofino Distillery
Not only is Tofino Distillery a super cool spot where you can sample premium spirits, but it’s also unique in that you can do so in cocktails rather than drinking them straight! We thought that this was really cool because let’s be honest, sometimes straight liquor is a bit too much.
The distillery has an awesome range of spirits to try, including their Psychedelic Jellyfish absinthe (if you dare) as well as a selection of handcrafted gins and vodkas.
When you visit, you can choose to do a cocktail-tasting flight and choose three cocktails from their huge menu. We thought this was a really neat experience and worthy of the visit on its own.
They also stock some really cool merchandise including glasses, spices, and absinthe spoons. They are open every day from 12-7 pm.
22. Check out the artwork around town
Tofino is full of street art displays, so it’s definitely worth taking some time to explore them. It’s a really pretty little town, and the artwork just adds to its charm. There are murals all over, so they’re easy to find. One of my favorites is located at Village Green Park.
The Weeping Cedar Women is a unique carving of a woman whose tears stream all the way to the ground with her hand out, signaling to stop. It represents the deforestation of the area and is here to remind us to protect our old-growth forests. The artist, Godfrey Stephens, carved the women from a 300-year-old windfall red cedar. The carving is 21 feet tall and is a must-see in Tofino!
Public art exhibits also pop up frequently all over town. These are usually located near the waterfront and change on a regular basis, so there’s always something new to see.
23. Watch a sunset at Cox Bay Beach
We’ve already talked about Cox Bay Beach in the surfing section of this post, but it’s more than just a great surf beach. Surfing is undoubtedly one of the top Tofino activities, but even if you’re not a fan of catching waves, you should still pay Cox Bay Beach a visit.
One of our favorite things to do here is walk the entire beach and then if we feel like a short hike, head up to the Cox Bay Lookout for the best views of the area.
If you’re after a more chill evening, this beach is super pretty to spend time on, and it’s one of the best spots in Tofino to catch the sunset. You can even pack a picnic, or head to the Surfside Grill for takeout burgers and soft-serve ice cream.
24. Go camping!
If the seaside domes we mentioned earlier are a little out of your price range, don’t worry – you can always camp out instead. Camping is actually one of the most popular things to do in Tofino, so there are plenty of great sites to choose from. Besides being lots of fun, camping is also the most budget-friendly way to stay in Tofino (hotels are notoriously expensive.)
You can camp at Surf Grove Campground at Cox Bay, which is Tofino’s newest campground, and the place we chose to rent our boards from. Expect modern amenities, sparkling clean bathroom facilities, and a lovely, laid back vibe.
The best detail, though, has to be the cedar barrel saunas, where you can enjoy a private sauna session after a long day of riding the waves.
Crystal Cove has RV pitches and log cabins for rent, as well as pretty common areas and ocean views. There are also a couple of glamping spots available if that’s more your speed.
Surf Junction Campground has a fun, funky vibe, and a hot tub to boot. There are tent and RV sites that are divided into front and back lots. The front lot has a livelier feel to it and it’s a good place to stay if you want to socialize with your fellow campers. If you prefer peace and quiet, opt for the back lot instead.
You can also camp on Vargas Island, which is one of the top Tofino attractions in its own right. Camping here means you may well spot a whale or two during the springtime. There are also many sea birds around, including black oystercatchers and rhinoceros auklets. You do need to organize a permit to camp here ahead of time, though, as well as organize transport.
25. Visit the hot springs
Quick disclaimer: the Hot Springs Cove hot springs are currently closed, but they could reopen at any time. Make sure to double-check this before you go because this is one of the most amazing outdoor Tofino attractions, so you should definitely go if you can.
To get there, you can either take a 20-minute seaplane flight or a 1.5-hour ferry to Maquinna Provincial Park. Many travelers choose a combination of the two, and take a boat there then catch a flight back.
Once you get to the park, you’ll follow a 1.5-kilometer (0.9-mile) trail through the forest, which takes around half an hour. This will take you all the way to the springs, where you can spend time splashing in the geothermal rock pools and admiring the views.
What’s cool about the pools is that each one gets colder the closer they are to the ocean, so you can work your way down from hot to cold (and back up again, if you want!)
It’s recommended that you allow about six hours to spend in the park, and you should definitely bring snacks, water, a towel, and your swimsuit.
26. Try the ice cream at Tofino Chocolate
Nothing beats ice cream on a hot day – especially when it’s gelato from Chocolate Tofino!
This is a super cute spot owned by a local couple, and the ever-present queues attest to just how good their product is.
They have a range of flavors but our favorite is the salted caramel. It’s so delicious that it’s hard to resist going back for more. Trust us, this gelato is 100% worth lining up for.
You can also get some of their amazing buttercream and caramel chocolates packaged up to go. These make the perfect gifts, but to be honest, if they survive the journey home, then you’ve got more self-restraint than we do…
27. Walk the Tonquin Trail
This is yet another of Tofino’s excellent trails. It’s 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) of gravel trail with 800 meters (0.5 miles) of boardwalk, and it takes you through the rainforest to Tonquin beach.
The Tonquin Trail is an easy walk with lots of viewpoints and scenic stops along the way, so it’s perfect for those who like to amble along and enjoy the scenery. Conveniently, the trail starts at the Tofino Community Hall, which is right in the town center.
One of the best things about this trail is that it takes you to the tiny Third Beach, which is a super serene spot that’s hidden away from the crowds. It makes you feel like you’ve discovered your own secret world!
28. Try to see a bear
Tofino is located in the Clayoquot Sound biosphere, which is famous for its black bears. You should definitely try to see one when you’re in town, because how often do you get to see a real live bear in the flesh?!!
In order to spot them, you can take a bear-watching tour or drive about 40 minutes to the Thornton Creek Fish Hatchery. If you’re lucky, you might spot a bear or two coming in from the forest to grab a meal at the river next to the hatchery. While you’re waiting, you can tour the hatchery or watch the salmon run in the fall. Admission is by donation and the staff here are super friendly while you’re waiting for a bear to show up!
Alternatively, you can see black bears on your way into Tofino if you stop at Stamp River Provincial Park, which is close to Port Alberni.
We did both!
We saw two black bears at Stamp River and one at Thornton Creek, so overall we feel like our trip was pretty successful, bear-wise.
Ready to tackle one of the self-proclaimed most difficult courses on Vancouver Island?
Long Beach Golf Course is located just outside of Tofino, near its namesake beach. It’s a truly picturesque course that offers views of the beach, mountains, and rainforest as you make your way around the 18 holes. You can golf all 18 holes for about $60 CAD and they are open nearly year-round, only closing from mid-December to mid-January.
Remember Tacofino, the awesome taco truck we talked about earlier? Well, they’ve got a truck on the course too, so you can enjoy some of their delicious tacos as you play.
30. Shop ’til you drop
You won’t find any chain stores in Tofino. This town is all about artisan-made clothes and jewelry, which means that it would practically be a crime not to check out the amazing boutiques.
Head to Habit for stylish knits and some classic Canadian checked shirts, and Rubio for stunning, hand-crafted jewelry. The eco-friendly lifestyle store Merge also has some amazing finds.
We had so much fun exploring Tofino’s boutiques and admiring all of the lovely things on offer. I treated myself to a pair of super cute earrings shaped like ocean waves as a souvenir, and I love them!
31. Walk the Ancient Cedars Trail
The Ancient Cedars Trail is a loop trail around 40 kilometers (25 miles) outside of Tofino. It’s a convenient alternative to visiting Cathedral Grove which, while beautiful, is a few hours away and can get super busy.
It’s pretty much a straight drive to the trail, and it should take you around 40 minutes to get there. The only downside is that there is no parking lot, so you have to park on the side of the highway to access the trailhead. Be careful!
The trail itself is only 800 meters (0.5 miles) long. It’s an easy walk and takes around 15 minutes to complete … which might have you wondering: why bother?
Well, because this walk is an amazing place to see huge, old-growth giant cedars. Looking at these massive trees is a humbling experience, and it makes you feel very small!
If you’re after a more challenging hike, you can also add the Ancient Cedars Trail to the Wild Pacific Trail. However, this quick walk is great if you’re short on time but keen to see some majestic, centuries-old cedars.
32. Day trip to Ucluelet
Ucluelet is a small town 35 kilometers away from Tofino. Far fewer tourists tend to visit Ucluelet, so you can get a better sense of what small-town life is like on Vancouver Island.
The main things to do in Ucluelet are wandering along the waterfront, checking out the lighthouse, and sampling tasty treats in the local eateries.
We fell in love with Zoe’s Bakery and Cafe, although it closes on Wednesdays and Thursdays, so plan your visit accordingly if you don’t want to miss out on some truly amazing baked goodies.
We also mentioned the Ucluelet Brewing Company earlier in this post, but in case you need a refresher: it’s a nice spot with a friendly vibe and plenty of local beers, wines, and spirits on offer. It also serves up tasty bar snacks, as well as charcuterie and sandwiches.
We will say, though, that if you’re going to eat a big meal in Ucluelet, head to Jiggers, a homestyle fish and chips restaurant. They buy the fish directly from the local fisherman, which means it’s about as fresh as it gets.
33. Wander the Botanic Gardens and visit Little Costa Rica cafe
The Tofino Botanical Gardens were renamed the Clayoquot Campus in 2021, and they’re a great place to learn about Nuu-chah-nulth culture. There are trails through the forest and gardens here with lots of viewpoints and places to sit so you can stop and really take in the beauty of the area.
As well as admiring the gardens, you can watch live totem pole carvings and observe Indigenous master artists in action. Entry costs $20 CAD for adults and under 12s enter for free.
And of course, you have to visit the Little Costa Rica Cafe while you’re here. It’s so-named because the gardens were originally inspired by Costa Rica’s Organization for Tropical Studies, which promotes sustainable development and conservation in South America. It offers delicious seasonal dishes made with local ingredients, and the coffee is excellent.
34. Visit the local museum
The Tofino-Clayoquot Heritage Museum is a small but interesting community museum that displays exhibitions on the history and culture of the area. It’s a great place to learn more about Tofino and how it came to be the town it is today.
While it’s tiny, this place is packed full of interesting objects – like a beer bottle recovered from an old shipwreck! There are some great old photos of Tofino too, and the curators here can answer any of your questions (and tell you some pretty cool stories!) as you explore.
The museum is open every day from 11 am to 4:30 pm and entry is donation-based. Donations keep the museum running, and you can pay via cash or credit card.
Related read: There are also some great museums (including one with a vintage train you can ride!) to check out while visiting Duncan, BC!
35. Go cycling
Last but not least, cycling is one of the best Tofino activities on offer.
This scenic town is the perfect place to explore by bike, and there are plenty of great routes to choose from. Cycling through Pacific Rim National Park is an especially popular activity because there’s a paved path running through the park that is super easy to cruise along.
Tofino Bike Co. is a reputable company that offers daily or 24-hour rentals. For adults, it’s $35 CAD for up to 4 hours and $45 CAD for a 24-hour rental. You can also keep the bike for longer if you wish, at a rate of $15 CAD for each additional day.
If you’d prefer a little assistance, Tofino Electric Bikes has an excellent fleet for rent. Prices start at $70 CAD for a 4-hour rental, and they also offer pet trailers and child chariots for an additional fee. You must be at least 19 years of age to rent an e-bike, and it’s best to book in advance because e-bikes are pretty popular these days.
Related read: Up for another epic bike ride in BC? Biking along the seawall in Stanley Park is one of the best Vancouver activites.
Where to Stay in Tofino, BC
Now that you know just how many activities this little piece of Vancouver Island has to offer, it’s time to find a great place to stay in Tofino! Luckily there are plenty of choices in this small town so you can spend as long as you like discovering all its hidden gems.
Tofino does book up in the summer especially, so once you have your travel dates figured out, it’s a good idea to get on booking a room. To help, these are my top picks for a variety of price ranges – whether you’re looking for a luxury resort or a reliable hotel chain.
Cox Bay Beach Resort – $$$
Right on one of the most beautiful beaches in Tofino, Cox Bay Beach Resort is all about location, location, location! You can easily slip out of your room and be on the beach in seconds to go surfing or just sit on the sand soaking in the view. With in-suite laundry, a kitchenette, and spacious apartment-style lodgings, this will become your home away from home. Check availability at the resort and book online.
Best Western Plus Tin Wis Resort – $$
Just off the Pacific Rim Highway and overlooking the Pacific Ocean, you’ll find the Best Western Plus Tin Wis Resort. It’s located on MacKenzie Beach, so every room has a view of the water and you can hear the waves from your balcony. You can even book surfing lessons or rent a board on-site! Breakfast is included too, so you’re all fueled up before you hit the beach. Easily book a stay here through Booking.com.
The MAQ Hotel – $
In the heart of Tofino and close to the harbor, The MAQ Hotel has newly renovated rooms with ocean views. The rooms are small but cozy and the location places you close to restaurants, shops, and activities around Tofino. Or you can enjoy live music at the hotel pub. Rooms can be booked online here.
Thanks for reading!
Tofino is one of our favorite places on Vancouver Island! With stunning beaches, epic hikes, and lots of great places to eat and drink, it’s the perfect spot for a little getaway. Time just slows down while you’re here, which is what we all need once in a while.
Hopefully, our guide to Tofino has helped you plan your upcoming visit. If it has or you’re looking for more amazing places to visit around BC, be sure to browse around and check out our other blogs.
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