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Tofino

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Tofino [1], population 1700, is a former logging and fishing village that has become a center for ecotourism and activities such as whale watching, surfing, and camping. It is located on Clayoquot Sound, on the Pacific coast of Vancouver Island, 208 km (129 miles) west of Nanaimo. Clayoquot Sound is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Pacific Rim National Park, Long Beach section


Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

Tofino is accessible via Highway 4. The road, best driven during the day, is very twisty and narrow (particularly west of Port Alberni) but offers great views of lakes and mountains on the west coast. Coming from Victoria, take Highway #1/#19 north 160km to the Highway 4 turnoff west to Port Alberni.

By plane[edit]

Tofino-Ucluelet Airport (YAZ), also known as Long Beach Airport (CYAZ), is located 19 kilometers south-east of Tofino, on the Pacific Rim Highway (Hwy 4). It is in Pacific Rim National Park, and just across the highway from Long Beach. KD Air, a Vancouver Island based airline with 23 years of accident free service, offers daily scheduled flights between Vancouver South Terminal and Tofino [2] Regularly scheduled flights to Victoria (YYJ) and Vancouver (YVR) on Orca Airways[3] are $130-$160 one-way. Private pilots will find three 5,000-foot paved runways, no landing fees, and fuel available. However, beware the weather; low overcast is common, and fog can appear suddenly on summer days.

There are also two floatplane companies that offer either charter or scheuled runs. Ateleo Air [4] and Tofino Air [5] provide air services to Hot Springs Cove as well as other popular destinations or remote villages.

By boat[edit]

If you are starting from Vancouver, catch the ferry from Horseshoe Bay or Tsawwassen to Nanaimo on BC Ferries, and drive the rest of the way.

In the summer you can catch the M.V. Frances Barkley [6] from Port Alberni to Ucluelet (37km south from Tofino), 4.5 hours, $30 one-way.

By bus[edit]

Tofino Bus Island Express [7] runs service in conjunction with Greyhound on Vancouver Island. Routes make stops in Nanaimo and Victoria (among others between Nanaimo and Tofino).

See[edit][add listing]

  • Pacific Rim National Park [8]. Rocky headlands, long beaches, and wild surf, set against Vancouver Island's temperate rain forest. Entry is $7.80 for adults. Camping $17-$23/night. Parking fee $10/day.
  • Tofino Legion (Royal Canadian Legion Clayoquot Branch No 65), 331 Main, +1 (250) 725-3361. Various evenings. For over eight years, this hall has hosted so many community events that it's easy to forget it's still officially the membership hall of the veteran's association. Multiple concerts per week of a variety of music, over the summer. Most performers are for one night only. $12-$30.  edit
  • Tofino Botanical Gardens, 1084 Pacific Rim Highway, +1 (250) 725-1220 (, fax: +1 (250) 725-2435), [9]. 9am-dusk. Twelve acres of forest, shoreline, and garden, with lots of educational exhibits. Also a cafe and gift shop. Adults $10, Students $6, Children 12 & under FREE!.  edit
  • Pacific Rim Whale Festival, [10]. March 17-25, 2012. A variety of art exhibits, films, museum installations, and tours in Tofino and Ucluelet, celebrating the spring migration of the grey whales.  edit
  • Pacific Rim Summer Festival, [11]. July 1-11, 2011. Art exhibitions in Tofino and Ucluelet. By the Pacific Rim Arts Society.  edit
  • Tofino Food and Wine Festival, [12]. June 2-5, 2011. A festival of gourmet meals, barbeques, and cooking classes, and farmers markets at restaurants and resorts around the region.  edit
  • Tofino Lantern Festival, (at the Tofino Botanical Gardens), [13]. 7:00 pm to 10:30 pm Sunday, August 28th, 2011. An exhibition of beautiful lanterns, and workshops to make your own lanterns. $10/person, children 12 and under are free.  edit
  • Atleo Air flightseeing, 50 Wingen Lane, +1-866-662-8536, +1-250-725-2205 (), [14]. Offers a range of flights over the beautiful coasts and mountain glaciers of the area, with a good chance of seeing whales and other wildlife. Prices are per complete charter of a 4-seat aircraft. 20 minutes, $180/plane. 1.5 hours, $550/plane.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

Bald eagle in Clayoquot Sound, near Tofino

Tofino is a popular tourist destination for visitors from around the world. The long sandy beaches south of town are the main attraction, as are whale watching, hot springs, and surfing. In the winter, many of the facilities close up. However, there are still a number of travellers who come to see the storm season. For hikers, Tofino is a gateway to the Island's backcountry. With a guide or on your own, explore amazing trails or paddle beautiful inlets. There is still a lot of wildlife, such as Orcas, Bald Eagles, and bears. Tofino and Clayoquot Sound is a world reowned kayaking destination offering wilderness experiences on daily trips between 2 - 6 hrs or even multi-day kayak adventures. Usually no previous experience is required.

  • West Coast Aquatic Safaris, 101 A Fourth Street, Tofino, +1-877-594-2537 (), [15]. Daily Departures at 9:30am, 12:30pm and 3:30pm. West Coast Aquatic Safaris is an optimal way to experience BC’s Whales, Nature, Hotsprings and Wildlife, a must do while visiting Tofino.  edit
  • The Whale Centre, 411 Campbell Street, +1 (250) 725-2132, +1.888.474.2288 (, fax: +1 (250) 725-2136), [16]. Daily at 10:30am, 2:00pm, & 5:00pm. A 2.5-3 hour boat ride in a Boston Whaler through Clayoquot Sound, with commentary from guides. Gray whales are the most commonly seen variety. There is also a museum. Adults $74, Students/Seniors $69, Kids, ages 4 - 12 $54.  edit
  • Hot Springs - Approximately 27 miles northwest of Tofino sits Hot Springs Cove, a natural hot spring that flows through interconnecting pools of various temperatures until finally reaching the ocean waters. The hot springs are accessible by boat or float plane, followed by a hike through the forest, and so a trip to the hot springs can offer both hiking and the potential for whale watching en route.
  • Black Bear Kayaking, 634 Campbell St., +1 (250) 725-3238, [17].  edit
  • Long Beach Golf Course, 1850 Pacific Rim Hwy, +1 (250) 725-3332 (), [18]. Tucked around the end of the airport's runway 11, this 9-hole par 36 course also features an 18-hole minigolf course and a driving range. Easy walking distance from the airport and from Long Beach. 9 holes $25.80+tax, minigolf $7, club rentals $16.  edit

Tofino is the surfing capital of Canada. There are only beach breaks in Tofino. Surfing (with a 5mm wet suit) is popular whenever the surf is up. Winter brings higher waves yet the temperature is still moderate enough to surf. There are 3 surfing beaches. All can get busy in the high season.

  • Chesterman Beach, (about 5km from downtown). Slightly sheltered by offshore islands, Chesterman Beach offers the best surfing for beginners. Parking lots at the north and south end.  edit
  • Cox Beach, (next beach south after Chesterman). Often offers bigger waves than Chesterman's. Access is via a 1 km walk through the forest from a resort that is shut down.  edit
  • Long Beach, (in Pacific Rim National Park, near the Long Beach golf course and Long Beach Airport). Aptly named! This beach requires a parking pass.  edit
  • Long Beach Surf Shop, 630 Campbell St., +1-250-725-3800, [19]. Offers a cheap and large selection of surfing rental gear. Lessons around $75, board rental $20 for 24 hours, $40 with wetsuit.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Clayoquot Crafts — 671 Industrial Way, (250) 725-3990. [20] Outdoor furniture handcrafted from salvaged local western red cedar.
  • Tofino Art Glass, 264 First St (go to the Flashing light and turn left), (250) 725-3929, [21]. Open Daily. Handmade kilnformed glass trays, bowls, beach sand jewelry and custom art pieces.  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

Drinking Buddha at Tough City Sushi
  • Calm Waters Dining Room at Tin Wis Resort — 1119 Pacific Rim Highway, (250) 725-4447. [22]
  • Schooner Restaurant on Second — 331 Campbell St., (250) 725-3444.
  • Sea Shanty Restaurant — 300 Main St., (250) 725-2902. [23]
  • Shelter Restaurant — 601 Campbell St., (250) 725-3353. [24]
  • SoBo — 311 Neill Street, (250) 725-2341. [25]. Outstanding! Have the chowder, the killer fish taco and the tofu pockets. Lunch about $15 / person, Dinner for about $30 / person.
  • The Pointe at the Wickaninnish Inn — Osprey Lane at Chesterman Beach, 1-800-333-4604. [26] - Beautiful Pacific Northwest cuisine with ocean views (during daylight hours). Breakfast, lunch & dinner, at approx. $25/$35/$80/person.
  • Tough City Sushi Bar — 350 Main St., 725-2021. Excellent sushi restaurant. Dinner about $25/person.
  • The Common Loaf Bake Shop - 180 First Street, (250) 725-3915. Tofino's original whole foods bake shop for over 25 years. Homebaked breads, scones, goodies, pastas, pizzas and specialties, at approx. $15/person. Also known for its message-laden bulletin board.
  • The Wildside Grill — 1190 Pacific Rim Highway, (250) 725-9453. Take-out food, burgers, seafood, salads.
  • Red Can Gourmet 700 Industrial Way, Tofino 250.725.2525 [27]. Gourmet take-out pizza, soups and seafood dishes.
  • TacoFino Cantina, 1184 Pacific Rim Hwy, (250) 725-8228, [28]. West coast influenced Mexican food out of a food truck. Tacos, burritos and gringas with a variety of fillings. under $10. (49.12676,-125.89233) edit
  • Club House Restaurant, Long Beach Golf Course, 1850 Pacific Rim Hwy, +1 (250) 725-3332 (), [29]. Fully licensed restaurant, open to golfers and flyers. Easy walking distance from the airport and from Long Beach.  edit
  • Chocolate Tofino, 1180 Pacific Rim Highway (Beside Groovy Movies), (250) 723-2526, [30]. M-Sa 10AM-7PM. Amazing hand made chocolates, truffles and homemade gelato. Very friendly place that the locals visit often. Best ice cream in Tofino and very family friendly. Best known for Honey Lavender Gelato, fresh organic chocolates and their "Hot Chocolate Elixir."  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

There is a bar next to the beer & wine store in town and a nice pub by the water.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

During high season (May-September) hotels here are among the most expensive in BC. During the off-season better deals are available. If you don't mind the two hour drive, considerably cheaper accommodation is available in Port Alberni.

Hotels[edit]

  • Best Western Tin Wis Hotel, 1119 Pacific Rim Highway (about 200 feet from the waters and beach of McKenzie Beach), 250-725-4445, [31]. Nice comfy hotel, reasonable accommodations for the area. First Nation owned and operated. $199-325 (less in the off-season). (49.13065,-125.896111) edit
  • Himwista Lodge, 725-2017 (1-800-899-1947) [32]. Lodge with private hot tub and ocean view of Clayoquot Sound. $150-350. Also with a full-serviced Sea Shanty Restaurant serving locally caught seafood.
  • Long Beach Lodge Resort, 725-2442 (1-877-844-7873) [33]. Cedar-shingled lodge and luxury cabins on Cox Bay.
  • Middle Beach Lodge, 725-2900 (1-866-725-2900) [34]. Picturesque hotel on rocky headland, with private beach, adults-only lodge, and a wide selection of rooms, suites, and cabins. $165-395.
  • The Tofino Motel, 250-725-2055 (www.tofinomotel.com) Standard rooms and family suites with views of Clayoquot Sound.
  • Wickaninnish Inn, 725-3100 (1-800-333-4604) [35]. An upscale hotel built on the rocks on Chesterman beach, Pointe Restaurant - a restaurant rated one of the best in Canada, and Ancient Cedars spa at Chesterman Beach. $340-1000+. Member Relais & Chateaux.
  • Pacific Sands Beach Resort, 1.800.565.2322 [36]. Located beach front on spectacular Cox Bay offering spacious suite and villa accommodations ranging from 520 to 1,400 square feet. Eco and pet friendly. Rates range from $180 to $440 in the low season and $325 to 690 in the high season.

Hostels[edit]

  • Tofino Travelllers Guesthouse. 231 Main Street, 250.725.2338 [37]. Central Downtown location, more a home then a hostel, very comfortable and clean. Dorm beds as well as private rooms. Lots of care and attention $20-$115.
  • Tofino Botanical Gardens, 1084 Pacific Rim Highway, 250.725.3443 [38]. Tofino Botanical Gardens developed the Ecolodge in order to offer visitors to Tofino the kind of accommodation they would expect in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. $89-$199.
  • Whalers on the Point Guesthouse, 81 West Street, 250.725.3443 [39]. Close to the center of Tofino. Affiliated with Hostelling International. A very pleasant place to stay. Both individual and dorm-style rooms are available. $25-$120.

Campgrounds[edit]

In the summer the campgrounds are very popular. There are a number of public and private campgrounds in the Tofino area. Most of these operate from about Mid-March to October or November.

  • Green Point, Long Beach Unit, Pacific Rim National Park. 105 sites available, no hook-ups or showers. $14-20. (Reservations fee extra). [40]
  • Bella Pacifica Campground. [41]. Nice spot on Mackenzie Bay, try to get one of the sites along the water. Surprisingly quiet most of the time, considering the number of people there.
  • Crystal Cove. [42]. Tucked away in a quiet cove on Mackenzie Beach it offers 72 full service campsites and 34 modern log cabins.
  • Long Beach Golf Course Campground, 1850 Pacific Rim Hwy (adjacent to golf course and airport), +1 (250) 725-3314 (), [43]. 76 camp sites, each with fire pit and picnic table. Shared washrooms, hot showers, running drinking water. Five full-hookup RV sites. Easy walking distance from the airport and from Long Beach. $30/night.  edit

Vacation Rentals[edit]

Private cabins, homes and condominiums are available year round. This option is ideal for couples, families or groups who desire a self-catered holiday.

  • Eik Landing, [44] provides ocean view suites in Tofino harbour.
  • Natural Elements Vacation Rentals, 1.866.985.9378 [45] Luxurious beach homes, cottages and condos in Tofino & Ucluelet on the Pacific Rim of Vancouver Island.
  • Pacific Coast Retreats, [46] Exquisite, west coast style Tofino accommodations: oceanfront and beachside. Phone: 250.725.3906
  • Tofino Beach Homes, 250.725.2570 [47] offers short and long term rentals at Chesteman Beach
  • Tofino Vacation Rentals 105-430 Campbell St., 250.725.2779 [48] has high end short term properties throughout Tofino.
  • Vancouver Island Vacation Rentals [49] Ocean view condos great for storm watching and summer sunsets, cabins, vacation homes for Tofino and Ucluelet.
  • Vista Hermosa, [50] A spacious Tofino vacation rental house and suite overlooking the Tofino Harbour and Clayoquot Sound.

Contact[edit]

Cell phones work in Tofino, but data connections can be very slow. Computers with Internet access are available at a few shops in town (such as the Tofino Pharmacy and Tofitian Coffee Shop). Free Wifi is available at Darwins Cafe at the Tofino Botanical Gardens.

Get out[edit]

Routes through Tofino
END  W noframe E  Ucluelet - Port AlberniNanaimo




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