Trip Ideas

Tofino & Ucluelet

Head for Tofino and Ucluelet on the west coast of Vancouver Island for a surfing adventure. These funky seaside villages, bracketing the magnificent Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, are Canada’s surfing hot spots. Ride big (or little) Pacific swells, see grey whales in the wild, hike the Wild Pacific Trail, or just stroll along a wide, wave-tossed beach. Polish off a day of adventure with an oceanside spa treatment or dinner overlooking the surf.


10 49.152801,-125.902573|48.94191,-125.546376|49.018058,-125.644512|49.366865,-126.262481
  1. Tofino
  2. Ucluelet
  3. Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
  4. Hot Springs Cove


Surf Sister Surf School on Chesterman Beach near Tofino. Photo Credit: Tom Ryan

Catch the perfect wave in a perfect setting: Tofino was named the “Best Surf Town in North America” in Outside Magazine's 2010 Editors' Choice Awards. Catch waves at Cox Bay, Long Beach or Chesterman Beach. Never tried it? No problem. Local surf schools, like Pacific Surf School or Surf Sister Surf School will have you hanging ten in no time.

Hiking Trails

Vancouver Island. Photo Credit: Jeremy Koreski

For a dramatic hike explore the rocky coves along Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet, or the old growth forest in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. The park’s 130km/81mi of coastline includes Long Beach, the ultimate beach walk of 16km/10mi of forest-backed, driftwood-strewn sand.

Whale Watching and Hot Springs

Tofino. Photo Credit: Jeremy Koreski/All Canada Photos/Corbis

Up to 20,000 grey whales migrate along the coast here each Spring; join the people of Tofino and Ucluelet in welcoming them with the Pacific Rim Whale Festival. March is a great time to join a whale watching tour, but there are plenty of greys, humpbacks and Orcas in the area throughout the summer.

The ultimate Tofino experience is to combine whale and wildlife watching with a boat trip to Hot Springs Cove in Maquinna Marine Provincial Park, where a series of hot-springs-fed pools flows into the sea.


For a small town, Tofino boasts a wealth of fabulous restaurants – most skewing local and organic with seafood fresh from the docks. Start the day with breakfast at the Common Loaf Bake Shop, Tofino’s original coffee and muffin hang out. Lunch? Grab a fish taco at SoBo (open February to November), where the chef takes inspiration from local ingredients and global street food. Dinner? Head south to Ucluelet to experience Norwoods Restaurant. Chef Richard Norwood works closely with Pacific Northwest artisan farmers to create imaginative dishes in an eclectic style.  Or dine with a view of the crashing surf at Fetch in the Black Rock Oceanfront Resort. Try the wild salmon, and ask to see the Wine Cellar room: it’s built right over a surf channel.


If it’s a splurge-worthy occasion, book an ocean view room at the Wickaninnish Inn, a Tofino original eco-lodge perched at Chesterman Beach. The Long Beach Lodge Resort offers surf view windows, dramatic Aboriginal art. For a summer surfing safari, stay at Surf Junction Campground, tucked into the woods near Ucluelet.


In a hurry? Orca Airways flies to the area from Vancouver International Airport. For car travel, take BC Ferries from Horseshoe Bay, about 30 minutes north of downtown Vancouver, to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. From there it’s a three- to four-hour drive through mountain scenery to the coast.