Let’s face it – Tofino is most notorious for its title of Surf Capital of Canada. It also boasts being home to what stole first place in the U.K. Guardian’s category for World’s Best Wild and Remote Beaches. This means that those who dread beach-bum days might not even give Tofino a second glance. However, they would be sorely missing out on the dozens of other things to do that the town claims besides the ones based on the beach.
Whale and Wildlife Watching
Whales, stellar sea lions, seals, black bears… There is plenty of sea-life and wild animals to see in Tofino. Hit up any of the whale watching companies in town to schedule yourself in for your chance to see these beautiful wonders of the coast. Most are similarly priced and many have guarantees of sightings.
Kayaking and SUP boarding are great alternatives to surfing while you’re visiting Tofino. You’ll be able to find places to rent SUP boards, or join in on a half-day or full-day kayaking tour. There’s nothing like exploring Tofino from the water.
Just a boat ride or scenic flight away lays Hot Springs Cove. Geothermically heated, the natural pools, which are carved into the rocks along the coast, are a perfect way to get some quality water time without all the waves and sand. Not to mention, getting there is half the fun, as you’ll either enjoy a boat ride or flight and a beautiful rainforest walk to get there.
The west coast boasts some of the best halibut and salmon fishing in British Columbia. Hop on a charter to land some fresh fish for dinner and indulge in a true coastal experience. There are plenty of charters between Ucluelet and Tofino that offer excellent guided fishing, guaranteed to land you some fun and fish.
For flowers over seaweed, Tofino has some stunning gardens to check out! The most common garden hotspot to visit is the Tofino Botanical Garden. In the summer, it plays host to a number of popular festivals such as the Tofino Food and Wine Festival, and the Lantern Festival. Less well-known, but perfectly in bloom from late May to early July is Gibson Garden. It contains a stunning collection of rhododendrons.
With so much rainforest around, you can bet that there are some stunning trails to explore nearby Tofino. Although many of them lead to the beach, some contain a few hidden surprises. Take the Canso Bomber Trial for example: at its end is the wreckage of a WWII bomber plane.
If you’re one of those who can’t leave home without packing your skateboard along for the ride, then you’ll rejoice in the fact that Tofino has its own skatepark. Developed by New Line Skateparks, Tuff City Skatepark is great for both skateboarding veterans and those looking to learn. It’s located right downtown Tofino with plenty of free parking nearby.
Ocean waves, relaxing heat, exfoliation all without sandy toes, weird tan lines and the sand spray from someone shaking off their towel next to you; Tofino may just be the perfect spa destination. Between treatments, you will get to relax to the natural cadence of real ocean waves, and take in the scents of the ocean and rainforest. It will feel like you’re getting back to nature… without having the nature interfere with the relaxation.
Non-water-based adrenaline seekers will find refuge in the zipline that rushes you above the Winchee River Canyon, located in traditional Tla-o-qui-aht territory. Not only will you get to experience life above the ground within the refuge of the coast’s incredible temperate rainforest; you’ll have quite the view while you do it.
Five minutes from the beach is the perfect place for a quick round of golf. At 9-holes long with a fully stocked pro shop and driving range, you can get your swing on at the Long Beach Golf Course. There’s even mini-golf if you’re in Tofino with kids, or just aren’t up for a full round of golf.
Clayoquot Sound and the areas around Tofino are a haven for both birds and birders. If you want to avoid beaches completely, then be sure to head to the Tofino Mudflats. Depending on the season, you’ll be able to spot a wide variety of birds including oyster catchers, ospreys, great blue herons, dowitchers and sandpipers to name a few. There’s definitely something to see any time of year.
Food and Shopping
Tofino’s restaurant scene is next level, especially if you like seafood. Most places have a focus on sustainability and keeping things local, so you know that what’s on your place hasn’t had to travel very far. Tacofino is a classic go-to for fish tacos, Schooner Cove has an incredible seafood platter (come hungry), and Wolf in the Fog was voted Canada’s Top New Restaurant by Air Canada’s enRoute Magazine. There are plenty of places to choose from and nearly everywhere will satisfy the foodie in you.
The quaint town also has numerous wonderful boutique finds. Loads of places feature local artists and designers, and some, like Piña, will even let you custom design your purchase. For a unique souvenir and the perfect options to satisfy those who love to shop, Tofino will be a surprising treasure trove.
Because you’re on the West Coast of the Island, the sunsets will naturally be in view and quite stunning. Take some time to ask around for people’s favourite spots to catch sunset – not all of them are from the beach.
For places to stay in Tofino, check out our accommodation page.
For more Tofino activities in the summer, check out our Summer Activities Blog Post!
Contributed by: Laurissa Cebryk