Hands down one of our favourite places to visit is Tofino BC, especially in the summer. Whether you only have 3 days in Tofino or an entire leisurely week, you can be as busy or as chill as you want in this awesome little beach town. And if you’re like us, you may want a little – or a lot – of both. We recently visited in July and my travel guide offers recommendations on what to do in Tofino (hint: there’s more than just surfing), where to stay, the best places to eat and drink, how to get to Tofino, and more. So get ready for the ultimate British Columbia road trip, and read on.
WHERE TO STAY IN TOFINO
Since we were planning to stay 3 days in Tofino, we chose to mix up our accommodation and stay at a campsite as well as Tofino’s top rated B&B.
Tofino camping is one of my favourite things and this time, the campground we chose was Bella Pacifica. The location is amazing as it’s right on Mackenzie Beach, that was definitely the highlight. However, the campsites are listed as “private and forested” on their website and I actually found them small and dark. Even though we were there in July 2020, there were basically no restrictions in place for social distancing; the campsite was sold out which made it feel especially crowded. There were signs saying only two people could use the washroom/shower facilities at a time however there weren’t extra facilities provided so of course people weren’t able to adhere to this. We were there midweek in July so it was a bit surprising to see it so busy. We also had a campsite next to us partying until the wee hours of the morning, which is never fun. If these things don’t bother you, then Bella Pacifica is a great spot. Otherwise, this might be a better option if you’re planning to visit Tofino in the off season.
Our other accommodation was Seafarers B&B, which is one of the highest rated B&B in Tofino. The owner, Maria, has received hundreds of comments just on how amazing her breakfast is. And while I have loads of dietary restrictions for my autoimmune protocol diet, she did a wonderful job providing a delicious breakfast for me. The room was spacious, bright and comfortable, albeit a bit dated. It actually reminded me a bit of my aunt’s condo from the 80’s, ha ha! The location is unmatched as it’s directly across the street from Chesterman beach and I literally walked home barefoot (or could pop back to use our bathroom rather than the public restroom). We found it to be a bit expensive but I’d definitely stay here again.
Tofino hotels are expensive however if you want to treat yourself, then the Wickinninish Inn or Pacific Sands are the most luxurious options for Tofino resorts in my opinion. My husband and I are going to celebrate our anniversary at Pacific Sands this year so stay tuned for a thorough review.
BEST PLACES TO EAT AND DRINK IN TOFINO
Wolf in the Fog is an award-winning restaurant in Tofino, and rightly so. The menu is always fresh, and hyper local, and the staff are seasoned fine dining restaurant servers. The roasted black cod was to die for and the “seacruterie” is a great way to try a variety of local seafood. We chose to sit outside and our timing couldn’t have been better as we were able to enjoy the sunset from their second floor terrace.
Another restaurant that is a must-try is 1909 Kitchen at the Tofino Resort & Marina. Chef Paul Moran, a recent winner of Top Chef Canada, offers a fresh and creative menu that is a must-try. However he told us he was leaving at the end of summer 2020 to work on a new project in Haida Gwaii so stay tuned for that! Regardless, Chef’s menu was delicious, I loved the decor, the views of the marina were stunning (especially at sunset), so there’s still plenty of reason to visit 1909 Kitchen.
We tried to go to Tacofino but the line was insanely long. Apparently people wait up to two hours but I don’t think any restaurant, let alone a food truck, is worth that. Luckily we discovered an AMAZING new-to-us restaurant called Wildside Grill that has the best fish tacos I’ve ever had. Honestly, it felt serendipitous that we didn’t want to wait for Tacofino – I’d go to Wildside Grill every day just for those fish tacos if I could.
If you and your sweet tooth are looking for a treat, then look no further than Chocolate Tofino. They make the most amazing hand-crafted chocolate so indulge yourself or purchase some as a gift for someone else. Personally, I looooooved the High Seas Dark Chocolate Bar. It’s organic 70% dark chocolate with Vancouver Island Pacific Sea Salt – seriously so delicious. And the best part is that $1 from every High Seas Bar sold goes to defending ocean wildlife. While you’re at Chocolate Tofino, you should probably get some of their famous gelato too.
Like most towns in the Pacific Northwest, there’s no shortage of awesome coffee shops in Tofino. A definite cult-favourite is the Tofitian Cafe. I can attest that there’s something magical about what they do, from their hearty pastries (including vegan and gluten-free options) to their London Fog tea – we went here at least once a day! Tofitian Cafe is an easy 10-15 minute walk or just minutes by bike from Chesterman Beach and Mackenzie Beach, respectively.
One of the best coffee shops in Tofino according to locals is the Rhino Coffee House. Personally, I love that Rhino has a variety of dairy alternatives (including oat and coconut milk, which are surprisingly hard to find). In addition to coffee, they’re known for donuts. They’re amazing so definitely ‘donut’ pass these up, hahaha! They also have an awesome selection of sandwiches – ask for The “Bro” Nut breakfast sandwich made on a savoury donut – and other baked goods. Rhino is centrally located right in downtown Tofino, which makes it easy to hit them up multiple times a day.
THINGS TO DO IN TOFINO
The most obvious and common thing to do in Tofino is surfing. Whether you’re a complete newbie or a seasoned pro, there are loads of options. If you fall into the former category, sign up for lessons with one of the Tofino surf schools.
There are so many cool little shops in Tofino. My favourites are Habit Clothing + Apparel for super cute clothes and Two Trees for home decor, body and gifts. I always try to support the local artisans when I visit small towns and Tofino is known for some amazing product. I highly recommend the body scrub or candles from the Tofino Soap Company. Or if you’re looking for a boho beach blanket or beautiful towels, look for the Tofino Towel Company in the local shops.
If time allows, check out the Roy Henry Vickers Art Gallery, a celebration of the work of world-renowned Canadian First Nations artist Roy Vickers. We ran out of time on this trip but I’m planning to visit when we’re back this fall and can’t wait to see his legendary work up close!
Whether you’re a sun-worshipper or a sunset photographer, you’ll want to become acquainted with Tofino’s beaches. Sit back and chill as you watch the surfers rip or chill out with a book while you work on your tan. Just remember, the beaches are windy so be prepared with layers and look for shelter on the beach. There are so many great beaches in Tofino that all offer something special so make sure you check them all out.
Tofino has a paved bike path that connects the entire length of the town so you really don’t need a car. It’s almost entirely flat so not only will biking provide great exercise, you can enjoy some adults pops on the beach or wine with dinner and not worry about having to drive home.
HOW TO GET TO TOFINO
Personally, I love to fly to Tofino. You save yourself about 6-8 hours of driving each way (from Vancouver and the lower mainland). The flight from Vancouver to Tofino is about an hour, plus you really don’t need your car once you’re there. If you’re planning to go (3 days in Tofino is a perfect amount of time) then you want to spend the majority of the time relaxing, not commuting, in my opinion. If you’re planning to fly, I recommend Pacific Coast Airlines. They have regularly scheduled flights from the Vancouver South Terminal to Tofino-Long Beach Airport, which is about halfway between Tofino and Ucluelet.
If you’re driving, the Horseshoe Bay ferry runs between West Vancouver and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island and takes about about 1.5 hours each way. Once you’re on Vancouver Island, take Highway 4 all the way west from Nanaimo to Tofino (2.5-3 hours). While It’s a bit pricey to drive on to B.C. Ferries, it’s a scenic, albeit slow and windy, drive.
I’ve saved all of the locations on my Tofino Travel Guide to my Google Maps so you can simply click here to access it.
Have you been to Tofino before or is it still on your bucket list? If you’ve been, I’d love to hear what your favourite restaurants and activities in Tofino are, and what season is best to visit Tofino in your opinion. Comment below!
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