Planning the perfect getaway doesn’t always include plane tickets. For those of us who live on Vancouver Island, we’re lucky enough to have world class travel destinations right in our very own backyard.
Tofino sits on Vancouver Island’s west coast, providing visitors with amazing sights, surf and experiences you can’t get anywhere else. Only a three hour car ride from Nanaimo, it’s a terrific travel option for those who want to keep it close to home. If you’re thinking about taking a road trip, consider these fun things to do, eat and watch while you’re in Tofino.
WHAT TO DO
No trip to Tofino is complete without a surf day or two. When it comes to riding waves, this is Canada’s holy grail, suitable for riders of all skill levels. If you’re new to the sport, book yourself a surf lesson and spend the day trying to stand up. It’s tougher than you think!
No surprises here. Tofino comes equipped with plenty of parks and wildlife for you to explore, including several locations to spot wildlife (more on that later). From Hot Springs Cove to Big Tree Trail, there are a number of awesome hikes to choose from.
If you’d rather keep it indoors, or are looking for something to do away from the waves, there are cultural elements to the small town of Tofino. Learn about the area’s aboriginal heritage at the Eagle Aerie Gallery and House of Himwitsa. Or drop by the Tofino Clayoquot Heritage Museum for an overview of the events and people who have made the area what it is.
WHERE TO EAT
Wolf in the Fog
Named Canada’s Best New Restaurant by Air Canada’s Enroute Magazine, Wolf in the Fog is Tofino’s culinary claim to fame. Serving up locally foraged meals and fresh fish, this west-coast inspired restaurant is a must visit. Just make sure to call ahead: you’ll need a reservation!
For something a bit more laid back, try Shelter Restaurant. Known as Tofino’s favourite place to grab grub, visitors are treated to a menu of first class food items and amazing service. Order the Sakamoto Tuna Tataki for a life changing dish.
Another one of our favourite local restaurants has got to be Sobo, an award winning spot on the west side of town. Chef/Owner Lisa Ahier has created a unique experience, complete with relaxed atmosphere and fantastic service. And don’t get us started on the food. Sobo is serving local fare that will impress even the pickiest eater. Grab a cookbook while you’re there!
WHAT TO WATCH
From November to February, storm-watching is in full swing, and Tofino invites you to sit on at some of the west coast’s most ferocious winter storms. Whether you watch from the safety of an oceanfront hotel or take to a sheltered outdoor location, you are sure to have one hell of a time.
Vancouver Island is famous for their whale watching, and Tofino is no exception. In fact, the west-coast community lies directly along the route of the annual grey whale migration. Up to 20,000 whales pass by Tofino each year, making it a prime sight-seeing location. High season runs between March and October.
Come on: we couldn’t leave a land animal off our list. Bear watching is another great activity available in Tofino. What may surprise you is that you actually view the bears from the water. Sitting safely on a zodiac-style vessel, watch as black bears patrol the shores, looking for their favourite delicacy, the Rock Crab.
Vancouver Island is a traveler’s treasure chest and Tofino is one if it’s many jewels. We’re lucky to live in such a beautiful place, but it’s on us to make use of it. Whether you’re waiting for the next long weekend, or simply want to spend a couple days away, Tofino is a top-tier road trip.