Updated: Sep 20
Stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP for short, is a great way to explore the beautiful coastal waters of Tofino, British Columbia. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a first-time paddler, there are plenty of amazing places to paddle in this stunning region.
Here are just a few of the best places to paddle in Tofino.
Beginner Paddleboarding Locations
If this is your first time paddleboarding, I would suggest starting at Tofino Harbour Authority. Just stay near the shore and paddle around the wharves located around Tofino.
Here is a nice beginner-friendly route that takes you from Tofino Harbour Authority
to Bravacodos Restaurant and back, it's about a 2km paddle return.
Strawberry Island Loop
If you are feeling a little more confident and adventurous you can try the Strawberry Island Loop. This is a beginner-friendly loop with a small crossing from the mainland over to Strawberry Island (150 m).
If you want to spend the afternoon paddling consider combining the Strawberry loop with a paddle to Bravacodos for lunch.
6 KM Shoreline SUP
This is a great option for those wanting to go out for an afternoon of paddling and you can continue on if you want to cover more ground than 8 Km. Depending on the tide you might have to paddle on the outside of the small island.
Although not directly in Tofino, Kennedy Lake is close to Tofino and is a great place to spend an entire day paddleboarding whether you are a beginner or not. Being a lake instead of on the ocean you will not be subject to swell or wind as you would with the other paddling routes above.
Intermediate Paddle Routes
Riley Stone Loop
This is a great option for those who are intermediate paddlers and only want to be out on the water for 2-3 hours. This is an intermediate route because it gets you further offshore and away from civilization. It also has a 400-meter water crossing and is tidal influenced. Meaning you should be a stronger paddler and have base-level knowledge of reading tidal charts, an understanding of how currents work between islands and a familiarity with boat traffic rules.
Explore Brownings Passage
This 10 Km loop is a great choice for the intermediate paddler. With its length and multiple longer crossings, this route offers an ideal experience to those hoping to spend their day on the water.
Tofino Paddlesurfing Destinations
Chesterman Beach is one of the go-to places for those looking to try their hand at stand-up paddleboarding in Tofino. With a long and wide expanse of soft sand, small to medium waves, and minimal wind conditions - it makes for an ideal spot to play in the waves.
There are also several beach camping options available near Chesterman Beach, and with the nearby caves, hiking trails, and tidal pools filled with marine life, it's easy to spend an entire weekend.
Other things to consider before going.
The parking near Chesterman Beach is ample and easy to access, with several parking lots located within a short walk from the beach.
If you plan on doing some paddle surfing make sure to check the Chesterman Beach Surf Report.
If you want to learn how to paddle surf or take surf lessons consider checking out Tofino Paddle Surf.
Cox Bay is a great spot for stand-up paddleboarding, located just a short drive from the town of Tofino. This is another wide and sandy beach, that when it's calm, you will get gentle waves that are perfect for beginners. With that said, when the waves are big, this beach is renowned for having some of Tofino's most spectacular surf. The waves here are known for their consistency and power, making it a great spot to catch a ride. However, it's worth noting that the water can get quite choppy during high tide, so it's best to check the surf report before heading out.
Mackenzie Beach is a secluded and hidden gem, located a bit off the beaten path, but well worth the effort to get there. The water is crystal-clear and the waves are gentle, making it a great place to paddle and explore the nearby rock formations. Paddleboarding tours in Tofino are also available at Mackenzie Beach, which can be a great way to explore the area and learn more about the local wildlife and ecology.
This area is great for fall paddling so why not grab a copy of our entire Vancouver Island Fall Paddle Guide?
Explore Clayoquot Sound:
Seeking an extraordinary paddleboarding experience? Look no further than Clayoquot Sound located north of Tofino! This destination is renowned for its wildlife viewing, ecotourism and unmatched biodiversity. As you explore the area atop a paddleboard you are likely to spot whales, dolphins, sea lions and even majestic bald eagles soaring in the sky above. Additionally, this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve has been acknowledged as a World Heritage Site due to its dramatic beauty and tremendous range of species that call it home.
These islands are known for their rugged beauty, with towering cliffs, rocky shores, and dense old-growth forests. Paddleboarding to these islands gives you a chance to see the local wildlife, such as black bears, wolves, and sea otters, up close, and also to see the untouched nature.
Clayoquot Sound is also home to several First Nations communities, which have a rich cultural history. Join Pam and the local communities for guided paddleboarding tours that provide an opportunity to learn about the local culture, history, and ecology.
Tofino, British Columbia offers some of the best places to stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) for all skill levels. From the popular and beginner-friendly Chesterman Beach, to the secluded and peaceful Tonquin Beach, there is something for everyone.
Other notable spots include Cox Bay, known for its tide pools and consistent surf; Mackenzie Beach, a hidden gem with clear waters and rock formations; Long Beach, a great spot for both leisurely rides and SUP surfing; and finally, Clayoquot Sound, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage site known for its marine life and untouched nature.
Whether you're a seasoned pro or a first-time paddler, Tofino has plenty of amazing places to explore and enjoy on a stand-up paddleboard.