TOP 5 THINGS TO DO IN TOFINO, BRITISH COLUMBIA, IN THE SUMMER

Tofino waterfront, mountains outcrops in the ocean, Vancouver island.
Tofino waterfront, Vancouver Island

I comprised a list of five things to do in Tofino. Tofino is located on Vancouver Island, on the west side facing the Pacific Ocean. By car you take Highway 4 to get to Tofino. Highway 4 is a winding road around mountains, that eventually comes to a fork in the road. If you turn left, that will take you to Ucluelet. If you turn right, it will take you to Tofino.

Before we begin to talk about the top 5 things to do in Tofino, while traveling on Hwy 4 to Tofino, I suggest you stop in to see Cathedral Grove, located in MacMillan Provincial Park. Cathedral Grove is right on Hwy 4. The park is located on both sides of the road and parking is accessible on either side. Cathedral Grove consists of old growth Douglas fir, three cedar timbers and is home to a tree that is estimated to be 800 years. 

Each side of the park should take you about 20-30 mins. If you stop for pictures it will take a little longer. There are some broadwalks throughout the park. There is no elevation or rocks, it is just a peaceful stroll in the park among the giants.

1. Surfing

Storefront picture with surf boards of Westside Surf School, in Tofino Island.
Westside Surf School, Tofino, Vancouver Island

First thing on my top 5 things to do in Tofino, is to sign up for surfing lessons in town.  There are many surf shops in town that offer surfing lessons. Tofino is known for its surfing culture, so I suggest you sign up. Cross it off the bucket list. The surf shop in Tofino that I chose was Westside Surf School. Westside Surf school had a warming inviting atmosphere and home of Professional Surfer, Sepp Bruhwiler. Westside Surf is a one stop shop for your rental and lesson needs.

Westside Surf School offers 3-hour Group Surf Lessons, as well as, 3-hour Private Family Group Lessons. 

Summer time Lessons

8:30-11:30am

11:30-2:30pm

2:30-5:30pm

Times are subject to change, as are prices. If you are going solely, I found that it was no problem. Great group of people. Instruction was clear and instructor was encouraging. Price for the 3 hour group lesson was very good.

Other surf shops in Tofino are as follows: Storm The Tofino Surf Shop, Pacific Surf Co., and Surf Sister Surf School.

2. Beaches

Waves rolling on the beach on Vancouver Island.
Wickaninnish Beach Access B, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

The second thing to do on my top 5 things to do in Tofino, is explore the beaches. The beaches are scattered along the coastline heading towards Tofino. After turning right off of HWY 4, heading toward Tofino, the first beach I visited was Wickaninnish Beach Access B. The beach is beautiful and unpopulated.

Others beaches I would suggest you get to see is Mackenzie Beach (calm beach, good for the family), Chesterman Beach (where surfing lessons taking place), Cox Beach, and lastly, Long Beach, Pacific Rim National Park.  The sunsets at Long Beach Pacific Rim National Park are jaw-dropping and spectacular. Just a heads up, parking at Long Beach is difficult and usually packed. Wait times will vary.

Sunset picture of waves rolling on the beach. Picture was taken on Green Point campground, Pacific Rim National Park.
Long Beach (Green Point Campground) Pacific Rim National Park

3. Food

The third thing on the list of top 5 things to do in Tofino, is experience the food. If you are a foodie, you are definitely in the right place. Depending whether its fast food, pick up and go or classical sit dinner I have a few recommendations

For classical sit down three places come to mind, The Wolf in the Fog, The Hack, and The Schooner Restaurant

The Wolf in the Fog is located in town and right beside Westside Surf School. If you don’t have reservations, you will have to wait. Very busy. Ask for the second floor. Beautiful views of Tofino. Food is exquisite and the restaurant is appealing and classic. This is a great restaurant to get dressed up and experience Tofino, with your partner. Highly recommend this restaurant.

The Hack is a beautiful restaurant located on the waterfront. I had the burger and fries. Fair portion, however, it was tempting to order another one. That’s how good the food was. I ate roughly around noon. While eating I got to experience the magnificent views of Tofino waterfront and see the docking fishing charter’s catch. 

The Hatch restaurant in Tofino, Vancouver Island.
The Hatch, Tofino, Vancouver Island

The Schooner Restaurant is a classical little restaurant where I wanted to experience west coast seafood. I had appetizer mussels and the oysters. I am not a fan of oysters, however, it was good. I would recommend this place to sit, relax and enjoy the tastes of Tofino.  

Clam and shrimp appetizer dish at Schooner Restaurant, Tofino, Vancouver Island
Schooner Restaurant, Clam and shrimp appetizer, Tofino, Vancouver Island

For fast food I would suggest, Westside Grill and Tacofino and the Shed. The Shed is located in town while the other two are roughly a 5-10 min drive from the town of Tofino. Westside Grill has good hamburger and fries, as well as, good portion size.  Tacofino is unique and offers tacos of all sorts. Both are extremely busy and wait times are sometimes 20mins, however, well worth the wait.

For breakfast I would recommend Rhino which is in town, located on the main strip. You cannot miss it. Look for long line ups. Limited seating and hard to get a seat. If you cannot get a seat in the restaurant, there are benches where you can sit and eat. 

If you just want to seat down and have a home cook breakfast meal (beacon, eggs, potatoes and toast) I would suggest Common Loaf Bake Shop. Sit and dine on the second floor. Very busy and at times hard for staff to keep up. The food was great and filling. I would definitely recommend this place. Just note, we are definitely not counting calories here. 

People lining up to get into Common Loaf Bake Shop in Tofino, Vancouver Island
Line up at the Common Loaf Bake Shop, Tofino, Vancouver Island

4. Explore Tofino

The fourth thing I would recommend on the list of top 5 things to do in Tofino is explore the town of Tofino. There are small shops like Caravan Beach Shop, Driftwood Gifts and the Storm The Tofino Surf Shop

Explore some of the art galleries in town like Roy Henry Vickers Gallery, Reflecting Spirit Gallery and House of Himwitsa Native art Gallery. They all have something that would make a great gift for family or friends. You will not be disappointed.

Entrance to Roy Henry Vickers Gallery in Tofino, Vancouver Island.
Roy Henry Vickers Gallery, in Tofino, Vancouver Island

Explore Tofino on bike. Go to Tofino Bike Co. located in town. They have some good rates. 

HALF DAY 

4 hrs or less $30

Must be returned before 5pm

FULL DAY

24 hrs $35

Must be returned by 5pm

All rentals come with a lock, helmet and a map.

5. Fishing Charters

The fifth thing I would recommend on the list of top 5 things to do in Tofino is fishing. The price is roughly around $400 give and take. If you are thinking of signing up on a fishing Charter, it gets a little complicated because you have to wait for others to sign up. So, if you have a short period of time on the island, the trip might not happen. That was the case for me. I signed up with Jay’s Fly and Tackle Shop (Tofino’s Fishing Tour) and unfortunately, the time did not work for me. 

Tofino has many whale watching adventures. If you like whale watching and bear watching there are many outfits supplying that service in town.

These are my top 5 things I would do in Tofino. Below are some quick tips in finding accommodations in Tofino.

Quick Tips-Airbnb fills up quickly in the summer as does campgrounds. I stayed at Pacific Rim National Park as well as, Bella Pacifica Campground. I came there without reservations and got lucky. I told them that I would be camping for about a one week. I had to wait but surely enough they got me situated in the campground, however, I did have to move campsites twice. No biggy!

Bella Pacifica Campground offers both camping and RV sites. It is located on Mackenzie Beach. Mackenzie Beach is a calmer and relaxing beach for families. The facility consists of 3 washroom buildings with flush toilets and pay showers, as well as, laundry facilities and public phone. You can purchase firewood and ice. While I was there, facilities were clean. Staff would attend regularly to the hygiene of the facility. I left a link for you to see the campsite. This campsite is located right on the beach and offers great photos of sunsets. All dogs are welcomed but must be kept on a leash at all times.

Make a note to yourself the road entrance to Bella Pacifica Campground was an adventure to say the least. However, they did manage to repair the road after August 1st  long weekend. 

As the saying goes, “Stop worrying about the potholes in life and enjoy the journey.”

I hoped this article helps you.

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