Wondering what to do in Tofino? Well, for starters you’ll want to take advantage of the area’s rugged coastline and enchanting forest setting.
This is the perfect spot if you’re seeking adventure and relaxation.
Add in some sneaky good cultural activities to the surfing, hiking, and wildlife and you’ve got one of British Columbia’s great tourist destinations.
Let’s take a look at some of the best things to do in Tofino, as well as a few unique off-the-beaten-path experiences that are sure to take your trip from an eight to a ten.
Explore Pacific Rim National Park
The Pacific Rim National Park is a stunning coastal park that spans 511 square kilometers of Vancouver Island.
With a variety of hiking trails, beaches, and wildlife, this park is the perfect place to get in touch with nature. Some popular hikes in the park include the moderate 8 km (five mile) Wickaninnish Trail, which offers stunning views of the coast’s crashing waves.
Looking for something shorter? Don’t sleep on Schooner Cove Trail either – this 1.9 km (1.24 miles) out and back trail winds through some of the lushest rainforest around.
Be sure to stop by the Kwistis Visitors Centre at the south end of Long Beach to learn more about the park’s history and wildlife. There’s a great bit of information about whales as well as some cool Coastal First Nations items made from local cedar.
Related: How to Get to Tofino from Vancouver
Take a Wildlife Tour
Tofino is home to a variety of once in a lifetime wildlife including eagles, bears, and Roosevelt elk.
One of the top things to do in Tofino is taking a sort of west coast wildlife expedition to see these animals in their natural habitats – and learn more about their behavior and migration patterns.
Add in amazing valleys, pristine waterfalls, mountain viewpoints, crytal-clear rivers, majestic lakes, and epic rainforest (wow, that’s a lot!) and you’ve got the makings of a great outdoor adventure.
The best option to explore from sea to sky? The Pacific Rim Expedition to Barkley Sound Viewpoint tour.
Go Whale Watching
If not for the quality of the best whale watching tours in Victoria, Tofino might just be number one in the list of best places for whale watching in Canada.
The waters around Tofino are home to several species of whales, including killer whales, humpback whales, and grey whales.
Whale watching tours typically take place in the spring and summer when the whales are in the area to feed. With a little luck, you may be able to see whales breaching, spy-hopping, or even singing!
Check out the Tofino Whale Watch Centre for more info.
Related: Best Whale Watching in Vancouver
Take a Surf Lesson
Tofino is widely regarded as one of the best surf spots in Canada, and for good reason.
With its rugged coastline, powerful waves, and stunning scenery, Tofino is the perfect place to pick up a surfboard and hit the waves.
Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or a beginner, there are plenty of surf schools and rental shops in the area to help you get started.
Surf season is year round though the best times are September, October, and November – just make sure you’ve got a wetsuit!
Tofino Surf School is a great place to start.
With its stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters, Tofino is the perfect place to spend a day beachcombing.
Some popular beaches in the area include Long Beach, which is over 16 kilometers long, and Chesterman Beach, which is known for its stunning sunsets.
Be sure to keep an eye out for sea glass, driftwood, shells, and other treasures as you wander along the shore. Just make sure you plan your visit at low tide.
Related: The Best Hotels in Tofino
Take a Tofino Seaplane Tour
A scenic way to experience the beauty of the area. Tofino seaplane tours offer breathtaking views of the rugged coastline, lush forests, and picturesque beaches from a unique aerial perspective.
Visitors can choose from a variety of seaplane tour options like Sea to Summit, Hotspring Cove, Remote Lake Experience and more.
These tours by Tofino Air are guided by experienced pilots who provide interesting commentary and information about the local area.
Better yet: take a Vancouver to Tofino seaplane to get there in just one hour and add some excitement to the trip over.
The Tofino Market
Wondering what to do in Tofino outside of all that nature? Then get yourself to Tofino Village Green every Saturday between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm.
The Tofino Market is a high season activity running from May 20th to October 7th 2023.
The market features a variety of stalls selling fresh, locally grown produce, artisanal bread, locally caught seafood, handmade crafts, and much more.
Visitors can expect to find a lively and friendly atmosphere, with live music and food demonstrations adding to the festive mood.
The Tofino Distillery
For all you drinkers there’s a local artisanal distillery located in Tofino, British Columbia.
It is known for producing high-quality spirits using locally sourced ingredients, including botanicals and fruits. The Tofino Distillery naturally offers a range of handcrafted spirits, including gin, vodka, and liqueurs that are inspired by the natural beauty of the area.
Visitors to the distillery can take a tour of the facilities, learn about the distillation process, and sample the various spirits on offer.
I recommend their Old Growth Cedar Gin as well as their small batch vodka made in their grain bill.
Dine at World Class Restaurants
Tofino is home to a diverse range of restaurants, each offering unique culinary experiences.
In general you can expect rustic, local, artisan cuisine that doesn’t waste even one wave of the nearby Pacific Ocean. For visitors I recommend the following:
- Wolf in the Fog: Fish Forest Feast is the motto of this modern Pacific Northwest-style restaurant dealing innovative cuisine inspired by Tofino’s ocean and forest. An extensive wine list to choose from. Signature dishes include seaweed salad, Fraser Valley pork belly, and charred octopus with kabiyaki sauce.
- SoBo Restaurant: Short for sophisticated bohemian, Sobo Restaurant is a popular destination for seafood lovers, with a menu that showcases catches of the day, foraged ingredients, and the region’s best biodynamic wines. Don’t be intimidated though! The casual atmosphere jives with creative cocktails and beautiful views of Clayoquot Sound.
- Tacofino: Tacofino is probably BC’s original food truck. They serve west coast inspired Mexican street food: tacos are star of the show (the local ling cod fish tacos are to die for), but they’ve also got burritos, gringas, and tortilla soup. All is naturally made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Visit the Naa’Waya’Sum Gardens
This was once the Tofino Botanical Gardens, a beautiful park that covered over 10 hectares of land famous for a variety of gardens and trails.
As of 2021 it’s called the Naa’Waya’Sum Gardens and it’s still the perfect place to take a leisurely stroll and admire the beauty of the coast.
The network of paths is one of the less rustic ways to explore the old growth forest of the area, though some prefer it that way as there’s no chance of getting lost!
It’s now also a centre to learn about local indigenous Nuu-chah-nulth art and culture.
Kayak Clayoquot Sound
Tofino is surrounded by pristine waters, making it the perfect place for kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Whether you’re a seasoned paddler or a beginner, there are plenty of rental shops available in the area.
Taking a paddle around Tofino Inlet is a fantastic way to enjoy the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, and maybe burn off a few calories from your epic local dinners!
If you’re wondering what to do in Tofino in the sun, with glass calm waters, this is the best option in my humble opinion.
Four hour rentals start at $80.00 from Paddle West Kayaking.
Related: Best Kayaking in Vancouver
Visit the Tofino Art Galleries
Tofino is home to a thriving arts community, and the town is dotted with a variety of art galleries and shops.
Here you can explore the local galleries and admire the works of local artists, including painters, sculptors, and photographers, my favourites being:
- Roy Henry Vickers Gallery: This world renown First Nations artist is one of the best windows into the local British Columbia art scene – aboriginal or not.
- Mark Hobson Gallery: Originally a biologist, Mark’s passionate portrayals of British Columbia’s rugged west coast have found him fame in another field.
- Tofino Gallery of Contemporary Art: An intimate gallery space with carefully curated works of art by established and emerging artists, both local and international.
The Wild Pacific Trail
If you’re wondering what to do near Tofino I suggest this stunning coastal trail offering panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the rugged coastline.
The Wild Pacific Trail is about eight kilometers long and winds through forests, over headlands, and along beaches. Hikers here enjoy the scenic beauty and spot wildlife such as whales, eagles and sea lions.
The trail is well-maintained and offers a range of terrains, from rocky outcrops to boardwalks.
I recommend the Lighthouse Loop (2.6 km) which is a great way to get into a hike without going overboard. Looking to make an afternoon out of it? Hit up the Big Beach to Rocky Bluffs Trail (5 km).
Make sure you’ve got a Wild Pacific Trail map first.
Still Wondering What to Do in Tofino?
I’ve listed the best things to do in Tofino but those might not be the best for you!
No worries, as with all my posts I want to invite you to drop me a line in the comments below for custom advice.
Whether it’s what to do in Tofino or anything else, I look forward to hearing from you ?