By now many of you would have seen the launch of our amazing referral contest, but for those of you who haven’t it involves winning a three-night trip for two with a ferry ride over to the Wickaninnish Inn located near beautiful Tofino, on Vancouver Island. If you want to read more about this amazing contest you can do so here.
Tofino is one of my (Hansina the admin warrior) favourite places to visit in British Columbia. It is located on the westerly side of Vancouver Island, and yes that means there is nothing between you and Japan, except for the pacific ocean! I don’t know about you but for me, that is a lot to think about, and it gives me an amazingly humbling feeling inside. It is a great reminder of how truly small we are in this vast world. Tofino itself is a beautiful coastal town surrounded by the ocean, rainforest, infinite wildlife, and so much natural beauty. You can go surfing, hiking, whale watching, bear watching, storm watching, kayaking, camping, or fishing, all in the same day. However, if you’re not feeling overly adventurous, you can simply stroll the beaches and catch sunsets instead. Tofino is one of those places where you can do as much or as little as you want, and whatever time of year you visit it’s simply beautiful to come, rain or shine.
I’ve visited in January, August, and October. I found January quite cold, but winter in Tofino brings huge waves and it’s a great time for surfing or storm watching plus it’s much cheaper and quieter. Summer is gorgeous especially in the sunshine and you can camp, hike, have beach fires, and go out on whale watching adventures, but the flip side is it’s a lot busier. October on the other hand was my favourite. We visited Tofino in October when I was a teenager, and ever since my team launched this contest I have been thinking about that trip a lot more lately. I remember the beautiful colours of the forests, and since we were there for a week I also witnessed a few storm systems go through, which were unlike anything I’ve seen before. Coming from a girl who grew up on the prairies with some of the best storm watching that’s saying a lot. One of the best parts though was that it’s still warm enough to have a campfire on the beach. Those memories are ones that I will never forget, and we hope that the winner of this contest will make memories they will never forget.
Now given that we will be sending the winner on an amazing adventure we wanted to fill you in on all the incredible things Tofino, and the surrounding areas have to offer!
1. Walk on Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park
The star attraction of Pacific Rim National Park and the Tofino area is the 16-kilometer Long Beach. This magnificent stretch of sand is accessed from numerous points, either along hikes or simply from a parking area on the edge of the beach.
This beach is flat and incredibly wide when the tide is out, making it a perfect place for walking. One of the iconic sites on Long Beach is incinerator rock, a large rock island that can be seen from well off in the distance, with the surf crashing around it. The park is also a hot spot for surfing and hiking.
2. Go Surfing
The miles of endless beaches and perpetual waves make Tofino one of the top destinations for surfing in Canada. You can surf here year-round but thick wetsuits are required. On sunny days in February, it’s hard to tell it’s not the middle of summer, with surfers flocking to the beaches from morning until sundown.
Long Beach and Chesterman Beach are some of the most popular areas in the region for surfing. You can take lessons at several different beaches, and many of the beachfront resorts will arrange surf lessons for you The Wickaninnish Inn included.
3. Hike through Old-Growth Forest to Beaches and Coves
The hiking trails in Tofino and nearby Ucluelet are relatively short but nothing less than spectacular. The old-growth forests here contain some of the oldest documented trees in Canada. Huge, centuries-old Douglas fir, Sitka spruce, and western red cedar line most of the trails, and many lead to secluded coves and empty beaches.
Some of the most popular short hikes include Schooner Cove Trail and South Beach Trail, both of which offer forest and beach scenery. The Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet is a longer trail covering a more rugged landscape. You can find numerous beautiful hikes within easy reach of Tofino.
Unlike many areas of Canada that are under snow a portion of the year, the hiking trails are open year-round in Tofino and are actually much more peaceful in the winter months when the main tourist season has died off.
4. Storm Watch in Winter
To see one of the area’s most spectacular displays of nature, come to Tofino in the late fall or winter, during storm season. Huge waves, often reaching up to six meters (20 feet), reveal the power of the ocean in jaw-dropping fashion between the start of November and the end of February.
Beyond the shores of Tofino is an uninterrupted stretch of ocean, with nothing between here and Japan. Storms generated by the warmer ocean temperatures and the cool air masses at this time of year make for powerful lows. The resulting storms and waves attract photographers, surfers, and nature lovers, but it’s also a great time of year to enjoy a romantic getaway.
Tofino winters rarely see snow, and temperatures are quite moderate by Canadian standards.
5. Take a Whale Watching Tour
If you want to get out on the ocean and enjoy some wildlife viewing, a whale watching tour is a must. In the waters around Tofino, you can see gray whales quite regularly, as well as orcas on occasion, and in summer, humpback whales.
A variety of tour operators, which you’ll see as you walk through town, offer trips, either in large Zodiac-style, semi-covered, or covered boats. These tours also offer a great opportunity to see some of the area and landscape, including the scenic Clayoquot Sound.
6. Take a Bear Watching Tour
One of Canada’s most iconic animals, black bears are abundant around Tofino. They can often be spotted wandering along the shores at low tide looking for food. Bear watching tours offer visitors a chance to see these beautiful animals in the wild from a respectful distance.
Tours are done from a boat and offer a safe way to see bears in their natural habitat. Tour times vary depending on the tides, and tours operate between the start of April and the end of October. This is also a great time for seeing bear cubs.
7. Walk through Tofino Botanical Gardens
Tofino Botanical Gardens combine nature and art. Beautiful gardens and forest areas are sprinkled with art installations that range from simple and small wood carvings to large and funky pieces of art, some of which stand out and others that blend so perfectly into the surroundings, you may miss them if you don’t look carefully.
Trails lead through the forest areas, along a coastal mudflat, and through areas of carefully designed gardens that include vegetables, herbs, and flowers. In the spring, the rhododendrons bloom in fantastic colors.
A small section of the garden is a memorial to the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami. On display here are a variety of items from Japan that washed up along the coast in the years following the tsunami.
Address: 1084 Pacific Rim Highway, Tofino, British Columbia
Official Site: http://tbgf.org/
8. Stop in at the Eagle Aerie Gallery
On the main road running through Tofino, you’ll see the intricately carved and painted facade of the Eagle Aerie Gallery, featuring the colorful works of artist Roy Henry Vickers. Even if you are not looking to buy a piece, these works by this renowned Canadian artist are worth seeing.
Bright, vibrant colors dominate the pieces, which feature the wildlife and scenes of nature related to the West Coast. Vickers was born in northern British Columbia, and his works are also on display in several prominent Canadian museums.
Address: 350 Campbell Street, Tofino, British Columbia
Official Site: https://royhenryvickers.com/
9. Get an Aerial Perspective from a Scenic Flight
To see the towering mountains, rugged coastlines, glaciers, and stunning alpine lakes around Tofino, there is no better way than on a scenic flight.
Tours take place via float planes or helicopters and range in length from 20 minutes to five hours. On a clear day, Clayoquot Sound is spectacular. This trip will give you a unique perspective on the area, and depending on what your interests are, the pilot can land on a glacier, an alpine lake, or at a remote hot springs location where you can take a dip.
Individuals and couples are welcome, but you’ll get the greatest variety of destinations and best pricing with a group of four.
10. Explore the Best Dining and Desserts in Tofino
For such a small community, Tofino has a diverse range of dining options. You can find everything from fine dining to food trucks, you just have to know where to look.
One of the tastiest places for young and old and everyone in between is Chocolate Tofino at 1180A Pacific Highway, just before you enter the main downtown area of Tofino. The owners make chocolate treats and gelato like you won’t find anywhere else in Tofino or possibly on Vancouver Island. Their signature gelato Salted Caramel Sundae, complete with a chocolate surfboard on top is a must-try.
In the same roadside retail complex of rustic-looking wooden structures is the original Tacofino Truck, serving an awesome assortment of tacos, burritos, and more. This eccentric-looking “truck restaurant” has since expanded to several restaurant locations in B.C., but this is where it all began.
For fine dining head to The Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn, where you can enjoy the views from their cliffside location, or stop by their more casual Driftwood Cafe, with windows that look out to the beach. (5-course menu with wine pairings included in your winning package)
For something right in Tofino, The Shelter offers inside and outside dining looking over Clayoquot Sound. If you are simply looking for a good cup of coffee and a tasty pastry, the Rhino Coffee House is the place to go, right in Tofino.
We would love to hear from you — Need a real estate agent who understands you? Call West Coast Lifestyle Group today for a free, no-obligation consultation at (604) 789-8202.