Tofino is a secluded place where visitors come to admire nature, swim, and relax at a coastal resort. The town is tiny enough to feel like you’re going away from the metropolis and the hustle and bustle of a major city, yet developed enough to have things to do, nice lodging, and even exquisite eating. This is an all-year destination. Tourists, mainly kids, throng here in the summer to enjoy the beaches and other attractions and activities, but in the winter, people come here to avoid crowds, watch storms, surf, and take use of the nearby hiking trails. Many people choose to visit between the seasons of fall and spring rather than during the peak tourist season of summer.
The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, which includes Long Beach, is the area’s centrepiece. It extends from Ucluelet, just north of the tiny town, to Tofino, just south. There are several entry points to the park’s great hiking paths and large lengths of deserted beach. Getting out on the water is another favourite activity, which includes everything from boat tours to animal viewing to kayaking. Visit the new Tofino Visitor Centre, located just north of the park, for information on particular tour companies, and plan your trip with our Tofino bucket list.
Now Coming to Best Things to do in Tofino
1. Go Surfing
Tofino is Canada’s best surfing destination, with miles of endless beaches and never-ending waves. Surfing is possible all year, although heavy wetsuits are necessary. Surfers throng to the beaches from sunrise to sundown on bright February days, making it difficult to tell it’s not the midst of summer. The greatest season to surf in Tofino is from September to November for serious surfers, but any time is fine for families and beginners, but summers are the most popular.
Long Beach, particularly the area near Incinerator Rock, is a famous surfing spot in Pacific Rim National Park. Wickaninnish Beach, at the far southern end of Long Beach, and Florencia Bay, just to the south of Wickaninnish, are regularly filled with surfers. Cox Bay, on the other hand, is Tofino’s most popular surfing beach. It also has a beachfront campsite and some of Tofino’s top resorts. Chesterman Beach, just north of Cox Bay, is also a large beach and a popular surfing destination.
2. Hike through Forest
Tofino and adjacent Ucluelet have a number of short hiking paths that are nothing short of amazing. Some of Canada’s oldest trees may be found in the old-growth woods here. The Rainforest Trail is one of the most popular short excursions, where you may stroll on raised boardwalks beneath huge trees and take in the views, sounds, and scents of this wonderful location. Two loop trails, each about a kilometre long, can be done separately or joined to form a single route. The boardwalks make this a very simple hike, but there is some elevation and a few stairs.
Walk from the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail to Florencia Bay Trail for a combination of forest, beach, and culture. Along the way, there’s a totem pole and information panels detailing the Nuu-chah-nulth culture’s customs. This route leads to two beautiful beaches: Wackaninnish Beach and Florencia Bay. In Ucluelet, the Wild Pacific Walk is a lengthier trail that takes you through a more rocky environment. Many visitors choose to climb only the 2.6-kilometer Lighthouse section of the path, which takes them past breathtaking viewing spots and a lighthouse.
Unlike many parts of Canada, where the paths are covered in snow for part of the year, Tofino’s hiking trails remain available all year and are actually more tranquil during the winter months when the major tourist season has passed.
3. Wander around Town
Despite the fact that Tofino is a small town with only 3,000 full-time residents, there are some intriguing businesses and lots of things to do. In downtown Tofino, souvenir shops, apparel stores, and art galleries are all within a block or two of one another. Stop into a café or bakery for a coffee and a snack if you need a break. The shoreline, only a few blocks off the main street, overlooks a beautiful section of Clayoquot Sound and Meares Island. Further up the street, you’ll find a park with a picnic table and totem pole, as well as additional breathtaking views.
The Eagle Aerie Gallery, on Tofino’s main road, has an elaborately carved and painted exterior that displays the colourful works of artist Roy Henry Vickers. Even if you have no intention of purchasing anything, these paintings by this well-known Canadian artist are worth seeing. The paintings, which show wildlife and sceneries of nature associated with the West Coast, are dominated by bright, brilliant hues. Vickers was born in northern British Columbia, and his work may be seen in a number of prestigious Canadian institutions.
4. Kayak around Clayoquot Sound
Clayoquot Sound as a unique wilderness region and excellent paddling destination is a priority for Tofino Sea Kayaking. Tofino Sea Kayaking respects the Hesquit, Ahousaht, and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations’ traditional lands. Kayaking on Vancouver Island allows you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of British Columbia. From the beautiful seascape where vivid turquoise waters meet a dark green undulating forest line, you will fall in love with this region with every paddle stroke. There are many wonderful things to do in the Tofino region, but kayaking on Vancouver Island is one of the most popular, and it’s easy to see why it’s regarded as one of the greatest kayaking destinations in the world.
Sea kayaking is a lovely way to explore Clayoquot Sound, which is close by. Meares Island is one of the most popular places for kayaking trips. This is an old-growth forest where you may hike paths and walk along the Big Tree Trail’s boardwalk. Guided tours are available from a variety of outfitters. You do not need to have any prior expertise to participate; novices are welcome. Your excursion includes all equipment, and you will be led by a guide who is trained in first aid and rescue procedures.
5. Take a Bear Watching Tour
Clayoquot Sound, in Tofino, is one of the best places in the world to see black bears. At low tide, the resident bears of Clayoquot Sound come down to the beaches to hunt for beach delicacies like rock crab, starfish, and even a bit of kelp. They’re a lot of fun to watch from the boat, and because of their weak eyesight, they typically don’t notice us as long as we remain quiet and keep a safe distance upwind. Travel the quiet, sheltered intertidal waters of Meares Island, about 20 minutes from Tofino, to explore the beautiful inlets and look for Black Bears on a boat trip from the Tofino harbour.
Black bears, one of Canada’s most famous creatures, abound in the Tofino area. At low tide, they may be seen roaming around the coastlines seeking for food. Visitors may observe these lovely animals in the wild from a safe distance on bear viewing trips. Tours are conducted from a boat and provide a safe environment for seeing bears in their natural habitat. Tours run from the beginning of April until the end of October, and timings vary depending on the tides. This is also an excellent time to spot bear cubs.
6. Explore Tofino Botanical Gardens
The gardens, woodland, and beach of Tofino Botanical Gardens include twelve acres and explore the link between culture and nature. The Tofino Botanical Gardens Foundation, a recognised Canadian non-profit organisation, offers educational activities and information on temperate rainforest conservation to people of all ages, from toddlers to retirees. From the Café and Gift Shop, a network of trails and boardwalks will lead you through the flower, herb, and kitchen gardens, the duck pond, and the Children’s Garden, and into the forest, where clearings have been turned into a variety of pocket gardens, art works, and garden houses.
Tofino Botanical Gardens is a combination of art and nature. Art installations abound in beautiful gardens and woodland regions, ranging from basic and modest wood carvings to huge and quirky pieces of art, some of which stick out and others that blend in so well with the environment that you could miss them if you don’t look closely. Trails wind their way through the woods, through a mudflat on the shore, and past beautifully tended vegetable, herb, and flower gardens. Rhododendrons bloom in a rainbow of hues in the spring. A tiny part of the garden serves as a monument to the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in 2011.
7. Take a Scenic Flight over Tofino
In coastal towns across British Columbia, the roar of a seaplane taking off is a must-hear sound. It marks the start of a journey in Tofino. Clayoquot Sound offers diverse scenery in all directions. Seeing our beaches, islands, woods, isolated First Nations villages, and waterways from above can provide a fresh perspective and respect for this area, which is mostly covered by the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. As you soar toward glacier peaks, take in stunning overhead views of the beaches and rocky coastline that make Vancouver Island renowned, or find deep inlets carpeted with old growth rainforest.
A scenic flight is the best way to observe the towering mountains, rocky beaches, glaciers, and magnificent alpine lakes that surround Tofino. Sightseeing excursions go anywhere from 20 minutes to five hours and are conducted by float aircraft or helicopters. Clayoquot Sound is breathtaking on a clear day. This flight will give you a unique perspective of the area, and the pilot can land on a glacier, an alpine lake, or a secluded hot springs spot where you can have a dip, according on your preferences. Individuals and couples are welcome, but a group of four will provide the most choice of places and the cheapest cost.
8. Enjoy the Views from Radar Hill
Radar Hill is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, approximately north of Pacific Rim National Park, between the villages of Tofino and Ucluelet. The Kap’Yong Memorial, which honours the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, which served during the Korean War, is located on the site of a historic radar post from World War II. On a clear day, the 0.2-kilometer Radar Hill Trail gives excellent panoramic views of the national park that are unique to it. Enjoy spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, Clayoquot Sound, Tofino Inlet, and the beautiful northern mountains as you walk this family-friendly trail.
Radar Hill is a high piece of land in Tofino that is easily accessible. The summit offers views in both directions, from above the trees to the mountains and the sea. It’s not quite a 360-degree view, but two distinct viewing areas gaze out in opposite directions and provide a unique viewpoint not found anyplace else in Tofino. The viewpoint is a short walk along a well-graded route from the summit, which is reached by a road. Radar Hill is also a location that local lodges and bed-and-breakfasts tell their customers about, citing it as a safe haven in the case of a tsunami. In the 1950s, at the commencement of the Cold War, the hill was utilised as a radar station.
9. Go Deep Sea Fishing
Tofino is regarded as one of the greatest fishing spots on Vancouver Island, and for good reason. The continental shelf, which is only a short boat ride from the pier, is home to the world’s greatest annual salmon migration along Vancouver Island’s west coast, attracting millions of fish from a variety of rivers. This huge undersea shelf provides many baitfish for these voracious salmon, as well as ideal habitat for strong bottomfish such as halibut and lingcod. Allow one of Clayoquot Ventures’ passionate and highly trained instructors to show you how to get “hooked” while fishing in one of the most pristine and gorgeous places on the British Columbia coast.
The seas off the coast of Vancouver Island are among of Canada’s greatest fishing spots. Take a full- or half-day fishing charter with one of Tofino’s outfitters for a true adventure out on the open sea. The fish in the Pacific grow to amazing sizes, so be prepared for a lengthy, drawn-out struggle if you hook onto one. Several types of salmon, halibut, and ling fish are available. The greatest fishing season is from mid-June to mid-September, although halibut fishing is particularly strong during the herring run in March and April, which coincides with the full moon.
10. Take a Whale Watching Tour
A whale watching excursion is a necessity if you want to get out on the water and see some wildlife. Gray whales, orcas, and humpback whales may all be seen in the seas near Tofino throughout the summer. As you travel around town, you’ll notice a variety of tour providers offering rides in big Zodiac-style, semi-covered, or covered boats. These trips also provide you a chance to explore some of the surrounding region and environment, including the beautiful Clayoquot Sound.
Whale watching in the Tofino seas is a particularly popular way to see this stunning coastal scenery. Whale watching in Tofino not only allows you to get up up and personal with beautiful cetaceans, but it also allows you to explore the nearby Clayoquot Sound, which is the traditional homeland of the Nuu-chah-nulth people. The grandeur of this pure terrain is always striking, regardless of the weather. The Pacific Gray whale, Orca, and Humpback whale are the three most common big whale species observed in the Tofino area. Gray whales in the Pacific are a very rare sight. There’s also the possibility of seeing porpoises, sea otters, Steller sea lions, and Harbour seals.
We’re confident you’ll find one to add to your list among the top ten thing to do in Tofino on our list. What is your go-to in Tofino? Let us know in the comments section.