Explore the best beaches, hikes, surfing, and more.
Last Updated: January 16, 2023
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Best Ever Things to Do in Tofino
Welcome to your Best Ever Guide to Things To Do in Tofino!
Tofino is considered to be one of British Columbia’s best seaside towns and a top tourism destination. Although much of Tofino’s beauty comes from its tranquil and laid-back atmosphere, this coastal town also boasts an extensive range of attractions that keeps visitors coming back.
Offering everything from sprawling trails to storm watching and downtown shopping, Tofino is simply bursting at the seams during the peak season. Don’t worry though – there’s still plenty of room on the expansive beaches for everyone!
Best Ever Things to Do in Tofino
Before diving into our list of the best things to do in Tofino, we thought we’d give you a quick rundown of the area. Covering what weather to expect, crowd levels, and the best times to visit, we’ll have you ready to book the ultimate Tofino trip in no time!
When’s the best time to visit Tofino?
Tofino Coastline (Courtesy of Destination BC/Yuri Choufour)
Tofino is gorgeous at any time of year, but the time you choose to visit will depend on what you plan to do here.
If you’re looking for the best weather, we recommend visiting during June and July. It will be busier because it’s the height of summer, but you’ll be rewarded with long days, pleasant weather, less rain, and temperatures that hover around 19 degrees Celsius. Should you be looking for a super-balmy summer, we suggest visiting in August when temperatures are at their highest.
Visiting Tofino for storm watching? Winter in Tofino is spectacular. Although it’ll be incredibly wet in Tofino during these periods, the swells and storms are simply unbeatable!
How busy is Tofino?
As we briefly mentioned, Tofino can get extremely busy during the peak season, so you never want to visit the area without having accommodation pre-booked.
Although rocking up to a campsite or luxury lodge without a reservation may seem wonderfully spontaneous in theory, you’re likely to be turned away from most Tofino hotels with an apologetic nod to a “No Vacancies” sign.
Seriously, not the greatest start to a vacation. It is absolutely imperative you have your accommodations booked before arriving to Tofino.
Okay, so what about crowds?
If you’ve booked your accommodation in advance but are finding it difficult to navigate a pre-planned itinerary due to crowd levels, try not to worry.
Tofino can get busy, but we recommend switching sections of your plan around if parking lots are full or you can’t get into certain tourist attractions. Overcrowding is no fun for anyone, so just switch out your beach day for a downtown day (or vice-versa!). Alternatively, try and hit major points of interest early in the day or just before closing. It’s not perfect, but you’re far less likely to be caught up in the crowds this way!
Is there anything else I need to know?
Tofino Beach (Courtesy of Destination BC/Cristina Gareau)
As many of Tofino’s activities are beach or coast-based, we highly recommend learning to be Coast Smart. If you’re wondering what this means, it’s essentially a Canadian initiative that encourages visitors and locals to be aware of their surroundings!
When you’re near water, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on little ones, observe the conditions and incoming waves, check tidal information daily, and stay off drift logs when the tide is high.
Similarly, when you’re actually in the water, you should wear a wetsuit (the Pacific can get very chilly!), learn correct surf etiquette to avoid injury, stay in shallow water, and know how to avoid and escape rip currents.
If you’d like to learn more about being Coast Smart, check out Canada’s official guidance here.
Now that we’ve covered the context that you may need for visiting Tofino, let’s jump into our large list of things to do in Tofino.
Ready to pad your itinerary?
Let’s do this!
Best Tofino Beaches
Tofino is home to some of British Columbia’s best beaches, and each one is vastly different from the next.t times, they are beautifully balmy and practically tropical, and at others, they’re completely clouded by fog or ridiculously windblown. When it comes to these wide-open coastlines, you never truly know what you’ll get. But hey – isn’t that part of the fun?!
The area has too many beaches to cover in-depth, but we’ll quickly cover our all-time favourites so that you can pick the one that’s right for you.
Whether you’re looking to walk along the rugged coastline or want to catch some serious waves, there’s a beach in Tofino that’s up to the task.
Divided into North and South Chesterman Beach, it has a fun-loving atmosphere that’s born from the heavy concentration of locals and families. While you’re here, you can surf, go for a swim, or walk along the expansive coastline.
As one of the closest beaches to Tofino’s centre, it’s an excellent place to visit for an afternoon break from the hustle and bustle of the main town.
Cox Bay Beach
Another excellent beach for surf nuts, Cox Bay Beach is usually full of pro or semi-pro surfers looking to sharpen their skills. If you’re new to the game, be aware that the waves here may be slightly too intense when you’re starting.
For something slightly different, stroll along Sunset Point and explore the various tidepools with the kiddos!
Because the place is guarded by offshore islands, you won’t find many surfers here. However, this area is perfect for beach walks, sunbathing, camping, and swimming. Should you get peckish during your beach adventure, you’ll only need to head slightly inland to find several cafes and food trucks just waiting for your patronage!
Long Beach is a multidimensional spot that offers everything you could ever want from a day at the beach. The flat sands are ideal for beach walking, and you can even cycle along the hard sands if you’re feeling brave!
Although areas like Incinerator Rock tend to be busy, you’ll find parts of Combers Beach and Schooner Bay are largely deserted at times. This makes it an ideal spot for honeymooners and single travellers looking to relax and unwind.
Middle Beach: The Best Beach in Tofino
This is our favourite beach in Tofino. Unless you are staying at Middle Beach Lodge, you will need to hike into it via the Tonquin Trail. But secluded is spectacular. 🙂
Tofino Surfing is one of the Best Ever Things to Do in Tofino
You may not know much about Canada’s surf scene, but we’re here to tell you that Tofino is one of the top spots in BC for catching waves! Boasting over 35km of beachfront, it’s unsurprising that surf fanatics flock here year-round.
As Tofino is tucked away in the Pacific Rim, it offers excellent cold-water surfing opportunities for newbies and professionals alike. So, whether you feel confident enough to battle swells during the winter storms or prefer to stick to the calmer waters offered by the peak season, there’s something for everyone in the nation’s surf capital.
If you’re looking for the best surf spot in Tofino that’s always packed with locals, we highly recommend Cox Bay. Not only does this area have a local surf shop for those needing gear, but it offers huge waves for surfers and longboarders.
For newbies who are looking to balance their time on waves with plenty of sunbathing, Chesterman Beach may be a better call. You’ll want to stick to North Chesterman Beach as the waves are better, but South Chesterman sometimes surprises surfers with occasionally monstrous waves!
Follow Live to Surf on Instagram for inspo and visit their shop for rentals.
Things to do in Tofino: Hiking in the Rainforest
Tofino is packed with glorious hiking trails, and you can spend days exploring the Pacific shoreline and appreciating the area’s natural beauty. If you’re not sure which trails are worth your time, let us round up the best Tofino hiking trails to explore!
Covering everything from the stunning wilderness Rainforest Trail to the extensive Wild Pacific Trail that winds around the Ucluelet Peninsula, there’s plenty on offer for hikers of every ability.
While you’re walking, just be sure to keep an eye out for local wildlife, moss-drenched trees, and incredible biodiversity!
You can’t visit Tofino without pulling on those walking shoes and hitting the Rainforest Trail. Considered one of the most spectacular hikes in the Vancouver Island area, it’s one of those must-do activities that shouldn’t be missed.
If you’re a first-time visitor, you’ll be pleased to know that a raised wooden boardwalk covers the entire trail, allowing tourists to easily navigate the area without damaging the vegetation. Those travelling as a family will also appreciate the short length of each trail. In our honest opinion, each 1.2km loop provides plenty of escapism without being too hard on little legs!
Along the way, you’ll find towering cedar and western hemlock trees that are over 800 years old and giant logs that offer plenty of nutrients to the soil. If you listen closely, you’ll even hear hummingbirds and bald eagles as they soar through the blue skies above. We’re painting a rather ethereal image here, but we promise that this hike totally lives up to these lofty descriptions – we simply didn’t want to leave!
Before visiting, be aware that you’ll need to display a Parks Canada pass to visit the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. If you don’t have one, simply head to the parking lot kiosks to make a purchase. Despite being relatively close to the highway, the Rainforest Trail’s loops feel worlds away from modernity and immediately plunge you deep into the forest to start your wilderness adventure.
If you’d like to learn more about this stunning trail, check out our detailed guide to the Rainforest Trail. Here, you’ll find trail outlines and handy tips that will make exploring a breeze!
The Tonquin Beach Hike (otherwise known as the Tonquin Trail!) is another excellent trail option for first-time visitors to Tofino. This hike is relatively easy, and is ideal for inexperienced hikers or tourists who’d just like to soak in the best of the area’s natural beauty.
Spanning 3.22km, this trail can be accessed through central Tofino at the Community Centre parking lot. Although there are some moderately difficult sections on the hike, most of the trail is level and the final descent is made more manageable with stairs – phew!
The trail itself is gorgeous, and there are several small side trails along the way that offer excellent outlooks onto the water. However, what we love most about the Tonquin Trail is the fact that it passes through some of Tofino’s lesser-known areas.
Not only will you hit the small (but mighty!) area of Tonquin Beach that boasts stunning ravines, rocky inlets, and golden sands, but you’ll also get unique views of the Wickaninnish Island and the Pacific that you may not find elsewhere.
Chesterman or Long Beach
If you’d like to do some walking while you’re in Tofino but don’t fancy getting your feet dirty on the trails, we highly recommend visiting Chesterman Beach or Long Beach for fun in the sun!
The marvellous Chesterman Beach is located just north of Cox Bay and is a prime spot for surfers. While you’re here, you’ll probably see everyone from total amateurs to established pros trying to catch the impressive waves. If you’d prefer to keep things relaxed, wander along the oceanfront to dip your toes in the glittering azure waters.
Before you start frolicking down to North or South Chesterman Beach, be aware you can only reach the beach at low tide as the beach is practically submerged at high tide! However, with free parking and plenty of B&Bs and hotels nearby, it’s a popular spot that’s worth persevering with.
If Chesterman Beach doesn’t float your boat (or you’ve quite literally missed the boat by visiting at high tide), check out the equally gorgeous Long Beach. Stretching an impressive 16km across Vancouver Island, this beach is ideal for beach walking and exploring. In fact, with some of the flattest sands in the area, you can walk for miles without ever reaching civilization! If you’d like to incorporate some history into your walk, stop by Incinerator Rock to learn about Tofino’s involvement in WWII.
Meares Island Hike
Otherwise known as the Big Tree Trail, The Meares Island Hike is home to some of British Columbia’s largest trees. There are several trail options here that range from 2.4km to 4.2km in total, and each boasts impressive old-growth forests of spruce, hemlock, and western cedar trees.
Oh, and did we mention it’s just a short 10-minute water taxi ride from Tofino? See, no excuses necessary!
The Big Tree Trail takes you along a boardwalk that passes many points of interest on the island, including the enormous Hanging Garden Tree which towers above you at a staggering height of 42.7 metres.
The short trail shouldn’t take you long to complete, but we suggest allocating around 1.5 hours to this activity as you’ll want plenty of time to take photographs, marvel at the forestry, and just drink it all in! If you’d like to complete the slightly longer trail that passes through the beach, we’d say that 2.5 hours should be sufficient.
Another fantastic trail near Tofino is the Wild Pacific Trail. Although you’ll need to head slightly outside of the main town to reach this hiking spot, it’s well worth the 40-minute detour. Based in Ucluelet, this trail has it all; beautiful forestry, untouched beaches, and miles of rugged coastline. In our humble opinion, it’s some of Mother Nature’s finest work.
Unlike some of the other trails on our list, the Wild Pacific Trail features several jagged rocks and twisted trees. So, if you’re expecting balmy sands and classic beachfront umbrellas, you may want to realign those expectations slightly!
There are several trail loops available to visitors, but we’d say that the Lighthouse Loop and the Artist Loops are the most prolific. The Lighthouse Loop spans just 2.6km and is named after the Amphitrite Lighthouse which proudly watches over the peninsula. Taking visitors along the rocky coastline and offering excellent views of Barkley Sound, you’re sure to get snap some excellent photos along the way!
Once you’ve covered the Lighthouse Loop, revel in the beauty of the Artist Loops. With dedicated wooden stands for painters, sprawling views of the coastal bluffs, and top-notch viewing nooks for sea lion and seal-spotting, it’s a 5km hike that’s worth an hour of anyone’s time. Just so you know, you can either start this section from Brown’s Beach parking lot or just south of Black Rock Resort.
Cox Bay Lookout
If you’re looking for a short but sweet hiking trail near Tofino, then Cox Bay Lookout is an excellent choice.
Now, before you start thinking that this is an easy trail – slow your roll. Although it spans just 2.6km, it can take approximately 2 hours to complete. This is because the elevation on the trail reaches 115 metres which equals quite a bit of climbing. A lot of the trail is uphill, and the ground is typically muddy year-round. So, make sure you come prepped with decent hiking boots and plenty of patience.
The trail itself may not be much to write home about, but the Lookout is just spectacular. Offering panoramic views of Cox Bay, Chesterman Beach, and the Clayoquot Sound, you’ll experience the finest vistas in Tofino if you’re willing to put in the legwork (pun intended!).
If you stick around for a while, you may even be able to catch surfers trying their luck at Chesterman Beach which can make for an excellent photo opportunity. For a different view of your surroundings, simply shift yourself southward for an impressive glimpse into Ucluelet.
Tofino Shopping & Galleries
You may not find sprawling shopping malls in Tofino, but you can pore over the town’s boutique stores and galleries for hours. The downtown area is brimming with unique souvenir stores, clothing shops, a cool outdoor store with a view, and artisan food spots, making it a popular hotspot for tourists and locals alike.
Tofino is highly regarded for its storm watching opportunities, and several coastal spots offer dramatic views of the late autumn and winter swells. With the waters changing from calm to turbulent in minutes, it’s an exciting activity that’s bound to have you on the edge of your seat.
Although you can storm watch from Pacific Rim National Park Reserve or Cox Bay Beach, many visitors prefer to watch the storms from an indoor location. As the warmer ocean temperatures and cool air combine to create waves that are up to 6 metres in height, this is completely understandable!
If you have the budget, we highly recommend booking into The Wickaninnish Inn, Pacific Sands Beach Resort, or Long Beach Lodge Resort. Not only do these luxurious properties offer fantastic views of the coast for storm watching with their floor-to-ceiling windows and waterfront locations, but they’ll ensure that you’re well looked after during your stay.
Talk about a win-win!
If you fancy yourself an angler, why not test your skills with some Tofino fishing on your list of things to do in Tofino?
The Clayoquot Sound provides excellent fishing opportunities for visitors, and every option is incredibly sustainable. Whether you’re a total beginner or an experienced fisherperson, you can learn about the local ecosystem and try your hand at spot prawn, Dungeness crab, and Chinook Salmon fishing!
Although there are several places for fishing along Tofino’s coast, we highly recommend hiring a fishing charter to get the full saltwater fishing experience. You can either get a charter for a ten, five, or four-hour period depending on how committed you are to the task at hand.
If you’re looking for suggestions, Cleanline Sport Fishing charters and Tofino Sport Fishing charters are both great and should keep you safe and sound out on the water. Operating with years of experience and knowledge, they’re bound to have you reeling in more than you would solo.
Tofino Spas / Yoga / Wellness
Whether you’re hitting the trails or are exhausted from sampling too many wonderful local treats, a relaxing massage or yoga class can be just what the doctor ordered. Luckily for you, Tofino is packed with excellent wellness retreats, spas, and yoga studios that will have you feeling more limber in no time!
For travellers looking to perfect their downward dog or warrior pose, there are several spots for practicing yoga throughout Tofino.
If you’re near the Pacific Rim Highway, Coastal Bliss Yoga Studio is a great place to investigate. Offering daily drop-in classes and a range of private sessions, there’s something available for every ability.
Prefer a beach with an aesthetic backdrop? Tofino Yoga has got you covered. With excellent Beach Yoga and Wellness Retreats on offer, this place blends yoga and the power of nature for a class that’s unlike any other.
Ancient Cedars Spa’s treatments are slightly longer and are typically tailored to your specific aches and pains. However, the Sacred Stone’s Spa’s infrared sauna and excellent massages make it a viable contender for the top spot.
To avoid FOMO or post-treatment regret, we highly recommend checking out their respective spa menus and making a judgment call. Whichever you choose, you’re unlikely to be disappointed.
Feel like hitting the green while you’re on vacation in Tofino? Well, you’re in luck, as Tofino is home to the gorgeous Long Beach Golf Course! Located just 15 minutes from Tofino, this 9-hole, par 36 championship course is a dreamy spot for golfing enthusiasts.
Believe it or not, this place frequently sees wildlife passing through (including friendly bears!). So, if you’re trying to justify your golfing habit to the rest of the family, you can argue that it’s practically a sightseeing adventure! If you can’t convince them to let you fly solo, bring them along to the 18-hole mini-putt course for an incredible family day out.
If you want to supplement your trip with some Tofino history, be sure to check out the old WWII bunker on site. It may seem like a strange combination of attractions, but the gold course is situated on an RCAF base that once played a large part in the war.
When you’re all tuckered out from the day’s events, be sure to stop by nearby Tacofino for an authentic taco!
If you’re heading to Tofino with your bike in tow, you’ll be pleased to know that the town offers plenty of cycling and mountain biking routes to explore.
Vast improvements to Tofino’s Multi-Use Path (affectionately known as the MUP!) have opened many opportunities for cyclists, which include significantly widening areas between Olsen Road and Gibson Street and increasing safety measures for newbies. Winding for 8.8km along Highway 4, this extensive pathway connects the town centre to surrounding beaches, Cox Bay, and the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
Tofino Biking (Courtesy of Destination BC/Jordan Dyk)
As we’ve touched upon previously, the tightly packed sands of Chesterman Beach are perfect for cyclists and run for 2.7km along the coastline. Not only will this get the wind through your hair and your blood pumping, but it’s an efficient way to sightsee too!
If you’re new to cycling but would still like to take a stab at it while you’re in Tofino, head to the Tuff City Bike Park. Designed with a pump track, learning area, ladder planks, and exciting jumps, it’s an excellent way to get acquainted with a mountain bike before hitting the trails.
No matter how tired you may feel after a day of sightseeing, be sure to set aside some time to watch one of Tofino’s breath-taking sunsets. Boasting expansive vistas over the Pacific, pleasant breezes, and miles of rugged coastline, Tofino is a beautiful place to experience a dramatic sunset!
Although you can experience excellent sunsets from several spots in Tofino, we recommend heading to Cox Bay or Tonquin Bay for the best vantage points. At Cox Bay, you can stick to the beachfront or head to Pettinger Point for unspoiled views. If you’re feeling feisty, grab your surfboard and enjoy the changing colours from the ocean.
If you’re looking for a quieter area to take things in from, we recommend checking out Tonquin Beach. As one of Tofino’s quietest beaches (and the closest one to the village centre!), this area is ideal for watching the sunset.
Simply amble down after dinner and catch the best of the changing lights as night begins to fall – perfect.
Tofino Wildlife Watching
Tofino Wildlife Watching (Courtesy of Destination BC/Brian Caissie)
Several towns in British Columbia are regarded for their incredible wildlife-spotting opportunities, and Tofino is no different.
If possible, we highly recommend booking a local tour for the expertise and background knowledge they provide, and there are several Zodiac-style or covered boats that you can choose from depending on how comfortable you are with an open-top experience. If you prefer, you can try your hand at wildlife watching from a few spots near Tofino.
Gray whales, orcas, and humpback whales are often visible from the Ucluelet Lighthouse Loop, and you’re likely to see seals and otters lounging on the rocks in this area too! If you look up, you may even spot bald eagles, great blue herons, Steller jays, and Pacific loons.
Whether you choose to get on the water or take matters into your own hands on-land, there’s plenty of wildlife in Tofino just waiting to be discovered!
So, what are you waiting for?!
Even if you’re not a water baby, you’ll quickly change your tune once you’ve kayaked around the Clayoquot Sound. Now, you can certainly take to the water on your own, but we recommend joining a guided tour for the best experience.
An excellent beginner’s tour is the one that stretches from the harbour to Tofino’s surrounding islands. If you’re willing to head out for slightly longer, you can cover the Big Tree Trail on Meares Island. Most tours include the trail in the tour itself, allowing you to cross an excellent attraction off your list.
If you’re looking for reputable local companies, Tofino Sea Kayaking is a reliable pick. Dedicated to protecting the wilderness area from damage while teaching visitors about the area’s heritage, the company offers affordable tours that keep sustainability at the fore.
Tofino from the Sky
Tofino From The Air (Courtesy of Destination BC)
If you are looking to fill your Best Ever Bucketlist of Things to Do in Tofino, this is it. You can certainly marvel at Tofino’s beauty from the ground, but you’ll also be able to experience the best of the area’s rugged coastlines and towering bluffs on an aerial tour! These tours typically run anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours and will give you an unbeatable look at the town from above.
If you’re wondering where to start, Tofino Air runs several seaplane tours. However, their Coastal Tour and Sand to Summit Tours are by far the most popular offerings.
The Coastal Tour is a 35-minute tour that gives riders exceptional views of the Clayoquot Sound from a seaplane. It also flies over the remote islands of Whaler and Bartlett for a unique view of the area.
On the other hand, The Sand to Summit Tour is slightly longer at 55 minutes and takes you up to the Strathcona Mountains and over the Mount Mariner Glacier. Once you’ve flown to the icy peaks, you’ll cover the gorgeous sandy beaches of Vancouver Island before landing back in Tofino.
Although these tours are pricey (approximately $199CAD for the 35-minute tour and $299CAD for the longer excursion), it’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you won’t regret shelling out for.
There are many permanent attractions in this beautiful harbour town, but Tofino also hosts several events throughout the year which are worth looking into.
If you’re not sure where to start, Tourism Tofino curates an excellent list each year that details every single event that’s passing through town. Whether that’s the Pacific Rim Whale Festival, movie screenings, concerts, or summer camps, you’ll find everything you’ll need in one neat package.
If you’re visiting at the right time, we highly recommend stopping by the Tofino Jazz Festival. Typically held in June each year, this vibrant event hosts various jazz musicians each year. What’s more, concerts performed in the Village Green are entirely free! If you want to watch artists at The Hatch Waterfront, it’s a mere $10 to enter – so worth it though, trust us.
We hope that this list of things to do in Tofino has made filling out your dream itinerary a breeze.
Although this small district on Vancouver Island’s west coast may not look like much from afar, it has so much to offer nature lovers, surf fanatics, and everyone in between!
If you have any incredible things to do in Tofino that we’ve not mentioned, feel free to drop us a comment below. With so many hidden gems around these parts, we’re always looking to learn more about beautiful British Columbia.
Best Ever Lifestyle Guide Inc. is an independent lifestyle guide for British Columbia based in Kelowna, BC.
We recognize and acknowledge that we live, learn, play and work on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan people.