Discover Tofino, BC


Raph Bruhwiler remote Canada.

Photo by Jeremy Koreski / surfer Raph Bruhwiler / Tourism Tofino


Just in time for the Tofino Food and Wine Festival, Guidebook takes a look at coastal retreats on the western edge of Vancouver Island.


By Sarah Berman


The town of Tofino is full of quirky contradictions—on one hand it’s a laid-back surf town, on the other it’s an upscale foodie destination. One thing is for sure: Tofino is a luxurious place for a summer vacation.


The town is located at the tip of Esowista Peninsula on the west coast of Vancouver Island, a village full of family-run restaurants and crab shacks featuring locally-sourced menus. To the north, Clayoquot Sound stretches out with islands of old-growth cedar, hot springs, whales, bears and other wildlife. To the south you’ll find massive sandy beaches punctuated by surfers and paddlers—all of them dwarfed by towering rainforest and ocean waves.


On the weekend of June 6, the town’s culinary talent will present the 12th annual Tofino Food and Wine Festival. The flagship event, Grazing in the Gardens includes canapes by local chefs paired with B.C. wines and island microbrews. From 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on June 7, locals and visitors alike will gather amid 12 acres of the rainforest in the Tofino Botanical Gardens. For a taste of the locally-grown action, Guidebook brings you 11 ways to make the most of a visit to Tofino.


Getting there


Depending on your schedule and budget, the journey to Tofino can be anywhere from two hours to two days.


Orca Airways offers direct flights to Tofino (YAZ) from Vancouver’s South Terminal (YVR), landing in a cool hour and 15 minutes. Flights starting at $150 leave up to three times per day during the summer season. Car rentals are also available from the Tofino airport.


For travelers with cars, a half-day’s drive and a ferry ride will get you there: BC Ferries offers shuttles to Departure Bay from Tsawwassen (south of Richmond) and Horseshoe Bay (on the North Shore). From Nanaimo, it’s a scenic, winding three-hour drive to Tofino.


For cyclists and road-weary backpackers, there’s plenty to stop and see along the way. Gabriola Island and Cathedral Grove offer pristine camping and hiking opportunities. Literally the end of the road, Tofino is perched at the very western tip of the Trans-Canada Highway.


Where to stay


Paula Mason, host of the cozy BriMar Bed and Breakfast, says the character house is one of just two B&Bs positioned a few steps from Chesterman Beach sand. Perfect for a couples’ getaway, the BriMar offers three distinct guest rooms overlooking one of the most popular beaches for surfers and paddlers.


“Our front yard is the beach,” Mason explains. The BriMar is nestled on the edge of Pacific Rim National Park, a few minutes’ drive from town. “What makes us so popular year round, I think, is simply being able to walk four steps out the front door into the sand.”


Rooms come with an organic homemade breakfast entree complete with yogurt and berries sourced from the island. Mason says she helps guests fill their days with whale watching excursions, hiking trails, bike rentals, surfing lessons and even helicopter tours.


Earlier this month the BriMar won an award for excellence in hospitality from TripAdvisor. With one queen or king-sized bed and an ensuite bathroom per guest room, bookings at the BriMar range from $259 to $319 per night in the summer season.


If you are traveling with family, pets or a mixed group of couples and friends, the Tofino area offers a number of alternative accommodations for every budget. Groups of up to 10 may enjoy renting dorm beds, private rooms or even the whole house at Tofino Trek Inn starting at $25 per person.


Surf and turf


On land or at sea, Tofino has no shortage of tourist activities. The town’s docks bustle with local fishermen and act as launching points for numerous sea kayaking, whale watching, wildlife, hot springs and cultural tours.


If you want to try stand-up paddleboarding (a trendy alternative to surfing), talk to the fine folks at Tofino Paddle Surf. For whale watching book with Ocean Outfitters. If you’d prefer a wildlife-watching boat trip to a natural hot springs, check out Jamie’s Whaling Station for details. If you’re brave enough to try catching a wave the old-fashioned way, Tofino Surf Adventures will supply you with a wetsuit, board, and surf lessons.


The Tofino area is also a hiker’s delight, with a dozen trails—most of which lead to a beach, secluded cove or scenic view of the ocean. Popular picks include the Tonquin Trail out of Tofino village and the South Beach Trail.


Food and wine


As part of the Tofino Food and Wine Festival, renowned chefs, brewers and winemakers will come together for a series of tasty local events.


Highlights of the festival include the Sage Hills Winemaker’s dinner the evening of June 6, a showcase of fine cocktails at Schooner’s restaurant the same night, the flagship Grazing the Gardens mixer June 7, and a foraging workshop with mycologist Bill Jones on June 8.


The latest buzz among Tofino’s foodies is the launch of a new restaurant called the Wolf in the Fog. With a central location and a team of both culinary and front-of-house staff from the nearby Wickaninnish Inn, the town awaits a brand new casual dining experience featuring innovative and locally-sourced dishes. With no official date announced, the Wolf in the Fog is slated to open its doors within the next month.


Tofino Getaway Listings

Atleo River Air
50 Wingen Lane
Tofino, BC
(250) 725-2205


BC Ferries
1010 Canada Place
Vancouver, BC
Toll free: 1-888-BC-FERRY (223-3779)


BriMar Bed and Breakfast
1375 Chesterman Beach Road
Tofino, BC
(250) 725-3410


Jamie’s Whaling Station
606 Campbell Street
Tofino, BC
(250) 725-3919


Ocean Outfitters
368 Main Street
Tofino, BC
(250) 725-2866


Orca Airways
5220 Airport Road South
Richmond, BC
Toll free: 1-888-FLY-ORCA (359-6722)


Tofino Food and Wine Festival
@ Tofino Botanical Gardens
1084 Pacific Rim Highway
Tofino, BC
(250) 725 1220


Tofino Paddle Surf
1119 Pacific Rim Highway
Tofino, BC
(250) 266-1997


Tofino Surf Adventures
450 Campbell Street
Tofino, BC
(250) 725-3119
Toll Free: 1-855-725-3119


Tofino Trek Inn

371 Main Street
Tofino, BC
(250) 725-2791


Wolf in the Fog Restaurant
150 4th Street
Tofino, BC
(250) 725-9653



Photo by Todd Byrnes / Tourism Tofino



Photo by Pacific Surf School / Tourism Tofino

Touring Mudflats

Photo by Pacific Surf School / T’ashii Paddle School


Photo by Jeremy Koreski / Tourism Tofino