Tofino is perhaps one of the most special districts situated along the Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. Located on Clayoquot Sound, a bio-sphere under the protection of UNESCO, the city is in a fabulous panoramic perspective where off its coast there are dozens of islands and islets, while behind the tops of the mountains that divide east and the west of the island claims true of its title as “The Tree Loving Capital of the World”. It will often fog, especially in the early morning and late afternoon and on fine summer days; it can be annoying, especially in the morning because you can never be sure of what will be beyond the fog.
The possibility of excursions that can be organized are one of the strengths of the city, the Visitor Centre is an excellent starting point to organize a gamut of things to do in Tofino like; an exit kayaking (half day or full day) to see the coast at close range or a cruise organized for whale watching (or why not both); and a wonderful boat cruise to the Meares Island, which is reached by boat with a crossing of about two and a half hours.
When To Go:
The peak season months for tourism in Tofino are from June to September. The summer season is the best time to hit the beaches, surf the waves, play beach volleyball, ride the Jet Ski, go island hopping, etc.. The sunny skies and agreeable temperature plus the fresh breeze coming from the ocean make it an irresistible place to hang out during the warm weather months.
Going around Tofino depends mainly on the range of interests you pursue. Even during the winter months (December to February), tourists and locals engage in storm watching or seeing the city drizzled by rain. During the low season, the hotel rates are offered at a much lower price. The reality is, it can be explored anytime of the year, but if whale watching/spotting is in your travel agenda, the best months to experience this thrilling adventure is in May and October.
These are the list of attractions and
things to do
Pacific Rim National Park
It has an incredible variety of landscapes and between the road and the ocean there are many paths that lead to beaches or scenic spots. The
Pacific Rim National Park
is well marked with signs and explanations everywhere and an amazing boardwalk that will leave you speechless. After going through the rain forest, you will arrive at deserted beaches, long, wild, and almost like paradise. The vegetation changes from one path to another from a humid rain forest with tall gnarled trees, you may find yourself in a clearing with bushes and brambles. In the face of warning signs and little reminders along the way, there are no sightings of bears nor a tsunami, so do not worry. The beaches are populated by surfers in search of the perfect wave. The area is humid so early in the day and you might find it foggy in August.
This is the main park in Tofino where you can enjoy hiking and biking while admiring its great landscape, beaches and trails. You will be surprised with the changing scenery moving from a swamp to a rainforest leading down to the beach. The path on the wooden walkways will take you into the heart of the forest and the swamp. The interactive center that provides information on the life of American Indians is well done and interesting. Whether it’s the sea or in the rainforest, all the rides and sites contained in the information given by the tourist guide are to do and worth seeing. The sublime beaches and the small and very easy hiking trails make the visit more memorable. Every family activity consists mostly of walking on small slatted wood to see the preserved ancient trees and giant ferns. The path is drawn in very well compacted gravel. After the long walk, there is always the beach. If you want to stay longer and admire the attraction and explore all its features, it is possible to stay for two days between Ucluelet and Tofino.
The Pacific Rim is an ideal destination because it is in large part wild and there is everything: there are the landscapes and wildlife of the Rockies and, in addition, the beaches are magnificent. And along the Pacific Rim National Park, you will discover the rainforest. The fauna is very dense and there are squirrels, deer, wolves, and bears. It is also possible to see marine mammals: sea lions (with binoculars) and whales, sea otters, puffins and gulls by making an excursion organized by the Zodiac (you can also observe the bears when you’re aboard the Zodiac). Please note, as in all the regions inhabited by bears, you must follow all safety instructions in order not to be attacked. When walking, be in groups of a minimum of 4 persons and if you see a bear, you must never approach it. If you want to see and visit many national parks in the Canadian Rockies, It is highly recommended to buy a valid one year pass card.
is a beautiful ride through the trees. You can hear many birds singing and the vegetation is also very pretty. It is only one kilometer (to the loop on the other side of the road). It is a superb pine forest with old cedar trees that are more than a hundred year old. The wooden walkway allows for a convenient visit to this park. There are actually two trails that start on either side of the road to Tofino. It’s an impressive little park containing some of the oldest trees of Canada. There are little dinosaurs (statues) straight out of Jurassic Park. It is especially beautiful in the late afternoon when the light in the huge trees looks simply unreal.
The trail itself is not very long and there are several informative signs, which show the history, structure and functions of the forest. You cannot use a stroller as there are many stairs, but there are benches to rest and appreciate nature. If you like being in the middle of a completely dense forest amidst the giant trees full of ferns and a temperate climate, this is the place for you. The trail is well marked and it is actually almost all suspended platforms crossing a centennial forest full of huge trees. It is one of the best tours of Tofino and do not be surprised if you find a black bear looking for honey in a hollow tree trunk!
Its waters are cold and dark, the sand is hard and beat and it’s windy all the time. Still, it is worth knowing these beaches of the Pacific, full of logs that prove the most powerful storms and waves in North America can be experienced here. The
is the most famous beach in Tofino, and as such deserves a visit.
It’s quite overcrowded although very impressive for those accustomed to the European beaches that feature the presence of surfers and the chalets that overlook the beach. The beach is not so big, but it is nice and quiet. It is the perfect site to make Stand-up Paddle or just enjoy a walk on the beach. One can also discover sand dollars and starfish. The huge tree trunks and rocks provide protection against too much wind and the great view of the sea excites one to settle on the beach.
If you want to see yourself walking on the beach and have the impression of being the last remaining humans, then treat yourself to a few hours to stroll along the kilometers of white sand on the
. You can see lots of tree trunks washed ashore, endless beach, seagulls, and waves for surfing of all sizes, observe the ocean and understand how quickly the weather changes here in Tofino. Be careful and enjoy the spectacle of nature and the nearby forest that reaches the sea. The peaceful beach is huge, barren and beautiful despite the wind, cold, rain and fog. The sunset is not to be missed along with the beautiful walks into perspective. If you have a vehicle, there is a lot of parking available to get there. It is a gray sand beach littered with stranded trunks. You can see the elephant seal (with binoculars) on the rocks of the beach.
This pleasant and long walk on the beach is accessed from Stroomberg by a marked path in the forest (flawless on raised beds). The beach is beautiful with soft sand and lots of little islands covered with trees. There are surfers on one side, and quiet spots on the other. For wildlife enthusiasts, you can see red-billed Oystercatchers, curlews, sandpipers, yellow headed eagles (just like everywhere around the Vancouver Island) and hundreds of sea lions on the rocks 100 meters from north to south. Bring a good camera and binoculars to capture all the animals in action.
From the parking lot at the edge of the road, you can follow a small path to the beach on wooden boards through the forest. The walk and access to the
is nice and the range over which one arrives is very beautiful. You can admire the sea of stars, shells clinging to the rocks, and walk on the fine sand of this sheltered cove. It is 1/2 hour walk from the car park (inside the National Park) along a laid out path with many stairs to climb and descend.
It is an easy walk for families with young children and not advisable for the elderly or people with knee problems. The beach promenade of the Schooner Cove seems quite long as there are lots of stairs to pass, but it is still beautiful. Once you arrive at the beach, you can see the presence of the large marine life left behind on the rocks. As this is a part of the Pacific Rim Park, you need to pay parking fees. It is perfect and a must see beach in Tofino that is ideal for the family.
Cox Bay Beach
Cox Bay Beach
gorgeous and surrounded by a typical rain forest, waves flowing against the rocks, and lots of water sports activities to try with sights of local surfers braving the cold water. This scenic bay is spectacular with surfers, seabirds, rock pools and the beautiful promenade to the point. If you want to learn how to conquer the waves of Tofino with a surfboard, this is the perfect place to learn and take lessons from the professional surf instructors stationed on this beach.
Tofino Botanical Gardens
This botanical garden cannot be compared to the other gardens here in Tofino, but if you have some time available it is worth taking a walk. It takes about an hour to get to know the
Tofino Botanical Gardens
. The whole place is well organized and has a good variety of native species. It is a surprise to walk through this garden. The scents, colors and sounds come to you from all sides.
It is an ideal place for meditation and quiet personal time. It has a nice snack house where they serve the best coffee and tea; with friendly service and good classical music on the background. Keeping the forest to its natural state as possible with scattered works that have a sense of humor is the goal of this garden. You’ll love the simplicity and humility as they do not claim to be the most beautiful garden in Tofino. The restaurant is worth a try and serves mostly vegetarian dishes, it would be enough to reward a tiring day with a good meal; do not miss the chocolate pecan pie, it’s to die for.
This is one of the most unspoiled regions of Vancouver Island. Giant trees, a calm sea (very cold) and the largest population of black bears of the region makes this an ideal place for those who enjoy close contact with nature. Kayaking and spotting the bears looking for crabs in their hidden bays is one of the best ecotourism programs that can be done in Canada (and relatively cheap).
If you are in the Tofino area, you can have contact with the still unspoilt nature of
. This garden is truly unforgettable for substantial reasons like; the ecological order, the beautiful location, and the sculptures.
Hot Springs Cove
You can get there through a leisurely boat trip during which you can see whales, sea otters, eagles, and starfish switching between the verdant fjords. Continue with the 2 km walking path through gangways in the beautiful rainforest. Once at the top, there is an area dedicated to the locker room. The hot spring is really small so you have to expect to run into on a day when there is no crowd.
Hot Springs Cove
faces the ocean so you can move from the water to 40 degrees in the cold ocean. This will give you a boost of energy and relaxation. If you do not want to get wet you can easily climb on the rocks to enjoy the view all under the watchful eye of the dog warden of the attraction. The tour can be done with the Ocean Outfitters: it is quite expensive, but it’s worth it. Bring your own food because the tour does not include refreshments.
Jamie’s Whaling Station and Adventure Centres
For whale spotting and wildlife adventures in Tofino, you can plan a trip with the professional guides of the Zodiac or formally known as the
Jamie’s Whaling Station and Adventure Centres
. The trip starts from Uculet and the sailing adventure is done in Barkley Sound. The tour lasts three hours with a maximum of 12 participants (capacity of the Zodiac). It starts early in the morning at around 7 am.
You will be given padded thermal suits as protection. The “Michelin Man” impression is perfect against the cold and the strong winds while sailing. The hike is beautiful because everything around the landscape is very suggestive. The sea is flat as a surfboard and seemed to sail on silk sheets. You can see about a dozen black bears who are walking on the beach looking for crabs and kicking up big stones as if they were sticks of paper. The boat stays afloat and at a safe distance from the bears, a sign that the animals are respected as they deserve. The staff is all polite and upon return provides tea, coffee and some sweets.
Anywhere you go in Tofino will always leave an unforgettable memory. The walk to the heart of the Rain Forest built on wooden walkways is a magical moment; it feels like the world of Tolkien! There are lots of amazing places and beaches. One of the highlights of the visit to Tofino is the path to Shooner Cove, a gorgeous beach with a small island where you can see different types of starfish. It has a succession of beaches, each more beautiful than each other: Long Beach, Chesterman Beach, and Cox Bay Beach. It is perfect for sunsets (in August, rather the closest beaches of Tofino where there are less fog risks). Tofino is also blessed with beautiful forests. For lovers of nature, it is not to be missed and the proximity to the sea only makes it even more fascinating.