The Best Things to Do in Tofino BC & Other Travel Tips from Someone Who Lives There
My sister, Sophie, and her partner, Brodie, moved to Tofino, BC just over a year ago. Even though we grew up in Kelowna, and I even lived in Victoria for a few years, I hadn’t actually ventured out to Tofino until well after they moved there. Tofino is absolutely stunning but has become pretty overcrowded in the summer months. I interviewed Sophie, about things to do in Tofino, where to stay, other times of years to visit aside from high season, and more.
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When did you move to Tofino and what made you decide to move there?
I moved to Tofino in December 2020 when my partner accepted a job opportunity here. So we’ve been living here a little over a year now.
If you weren’t living in Tofino, but rather just visiting, would you camp or stay at a hotel? Where would you most want to stay?
I would probably camp or book a B&B. There are so many beautiful places to stay, but make sure you book well in advance and don’t come without accommodations pre-booked, it’s pretty much impossible to snag something last minute.
Summer seems to be the busiest time of year in Tofino. Do you have any advice for people planning summer trips there?
If you are planning a trip to Tofino, be aware that the infrastructure is not designed for the heavy tourist traffic of the summer. Be sure to check for local water restrictions and come prepared. I would recommend picking up groceries in Port Alberni on your way down as it is less expensive and the grocery store here is often depleted during busy months. Additionally, most places are chronically understaffed due to the housing crisis here and staff are working extra hours, so remember to be patient and kind, make reservations or be prepared to wait. If you can walk or bike while you’re here, do it! It’s great exercise, beautiful scenery, and parking can be hard to come by.
Is there any other season you would recommend people plan a trip to Tofino, rather than summer?
Spring is beautiful when all the rhododendrons are in bloom and it is a bit less busy than summer. Just make sure you bring your rain gear!
I know overcrowding is a pretty big issue in high season. How can travelers and tourists be more respectful during their summer visits to Tofino?
Being respectful goes a long way. It is a privilege to get to enjoy this beautiful landscape that is situated within the traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Peoples. Be aware of the footprint you leave – pick up after yourself, and if you see trash lying around, maybe pick that up too. Abide by rules and signage regarding parking, beach fires, and protecting delicate ecosystems. Make sure you have accommodations and be kind and patient with staff.
Do you have a favorite beach in Tofino? Or a favorite hiking trail?
There are tons of beautiful trails and beaches, you really can’t go wrong. Stop by the visitor center on your way in and pick up a map if you’re keen. I really love the Rainforest Trail. It is situated between Tofino and Ucluelet and is a wooden trail surrounded by giant cedar and hemlock trees. The smell of the trees is incredible and there are some fantastic signs along the way depicting the cycles of the forest.
How often do you surf? Do you know of a good place to book surfing lessons?
I am quite new to surfing, and don’t have winter gear yet, so I haven’t been out since summer. I would say booking a lesson anywhere is a great idea. Because it is so busy in the summer, it is important to make sure you’re being safe and not putting others in danger so I would highly recommend booking a lesson at any of the surf shops in town.
What are your favorite restaurants and cafes in the area?
I love Common Loaf for a morning croissant or breakfast pizza, and the staff are lovely. It is cash only, but there is a bank next door. Just up the street, Sobo is a great spot for lunch. They have indoor and outdoor seating and are widely known for their cornbread and chowder. They make a dangerously good margarita too. For dinner, I would recommend Schooner’s if you like seafood. I love Wolf in the Fog as well, but it can be difficult to get a table in the summer.
Are there any other places you think people should check out on their next trip?
If you like art, visit The House of Himwitsa, a Canadian Native Art Gallery which sells a wide variety of art, decor, and books. The Roy Henry Vickers Gallery is also a beautiful exhibition and has cards and prints for sale in the gift shop as well. And if you’re coming to Tofino you may as well venture over to Ucluelet, it’s about a 35-minute drive and has its own array of delicious restaurants, cafes, and trails. The Wild Pacific Trail is stunning and if you’re a tea person like me, Thay Tea has some really amazing options.
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