Find great surfing in Western Canada, see bears and whales, catch giant chinook salmon, hike in the wilderness, and relax on a beach watching a winter storm.
If you’ve never imagined surfing in Canada, you must come to Tofino. Sandy bottoms and clean water provide delightful surfing conditions when waves are right. Bring a wetsuit to participate or binoculars to watch your favorite athletes challenge the waves along the shoreline.
Those who are not already proficient surfers can take lessons locally. Alternatively, rent kayaks to go out on the water in Tofino Inlet or Clayoquot Sound on your own or with guides. Tofino’s fishing is great, with halibut and chinook available offshore. Bring your catch back to town to have it smoked or cooked by a local chef.
When wind and waves are very strong, especially in winter, head to observation points along the cliffs to watch all the fury the Pacific Ocean can muster. Hike along the miles of beaches and look for whales in the ocean and artisans carving whales from driftwood washed onto the shore. Follow boardwalks in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve or take a boat to Meares Island and climb the Lone Cone for views over the sound.
Despite the town’s small size, dozens of restaurants, bars and coffeehouses provide exquisite food and drink. Try fine and casual dining and specialized locations including a local brewery, a charcuterie and a cake studio. Tofino has a summer market on Saturdays and has developed a bit of a foodie reputation, with restaurants incorporating local produce and even foraged berries and mushrooms. For a bit of culture, visit galleries displaying works by local artists, history of First Nations Nuu-chah-nulth people and locally made handicrafts.
Tofino goes a step beyond Canada’s famous friendliness with festivals throughout the year. Join in the fun of the annual New Years Day Polar Bear Swim in January, the Pacific Rim Whale Festival in March, the boat-to-table seafood Feast Tofino in May and numerous arts, athletic and other eclectic events.