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Tofino, BC - The Wild West Coast of Vancouver Island

It’s the end of the earth as we know it, at least Canada’s land as you wander west. As Canada’s surf capital, Tofino is known as a surf destination, this post is designed to show you it is so much more.

First impressions are that the walls of water rolling towards you might just carry you away. The effect is a bit scary and uplifting all at once, waves are driven by sometimes massive winds making one feel very small. Once you get over that ripple of fear, there is no end of fun and adventure on Vancouver Island’s Pacific flank — activities that are safe and exciting in mild weather and kind conditions.

Why Stand Up Paddle in Tofino?

We’ve chosen Tofino for many reasons but mostly because we can match the water and waves to your skills on either our Tofino Multisport and SUP Adventure in early June or you can take things up a notch with a SUP camping later in the month, overnighting on the islands of Clayoquot Sound.

The setting, which fronts Pacific Rim National Park, is often serene to benign with plenty of options backed by a funky community with a surfer/SUP buzz and lots of great eating spots. With sandy beaches, this biosphere reserve area is teeming with wildlife - bears, killer whales, humpback whales and sea lions are just a few of the locals.

It's a good backdrop for beginner paddlers who might want to try some SUP surf paddling. June is Tofino's best weather if we can be so bold. It’s warm, drying out and not yet overwhelmed with summer visitors.

The day trips on our multisport trip include a remote paddle on stunning Clayoquot Sound, where calm waters provide a great platform for spotting seals, bald eagles, black bears and perhaps some whale watching. If the Tofino tides are in our favour, we'll enjoy some beginner-friendly surf and spend a day playing the waves on Mackenzie Beach.

On land, Tofino hikes are not to be missed! Hiking part of the Pacific Rim will take you along rugged coastlines and temperate rainforests woven with Ingidenous history. We’ll visit some of the area's oldest cedar tree and learn how we can become friends of Clayoquot Sound.

If that's not all there will be time built into the itinerary to check out Tough City, as Tofino is called. It’s a working port and one-time logging centre, after all, but the townsfolk are known for their soft side and welcoming words.

You’ll see stuff that will make you smile, bicycles with side racks for surfboards and exotic vehicles from Asia and Europe that have been rigged up to support the surfer or SUPer life.

Tofino Surf Beaches

For all the activities available — edgy and not — there are plenty of simple and benign pleasures. That begins and ends with the series of sand strands that sweep along the Pacific which are the perfect setting for catching a Tofino sunrise.

North to south in Tofino, the six beaches range from the short Tonquin and Middle Beach to the broad Mackenzie and double sweeps of North and South Chesterman and finally Cox Bay. Tonquin and Mackenzie occasionally feature five-metre swells and Middle and Mackenzie have specific SUP zones.

North Chesterman offers less aggressive swells at 2.5 metres and up while South Chesterman and Cox are smaller and more consistent at .5 to 3 metres.

Then there are the three major beaches in Pacific Rim National Park — Long Beach, Combers Beach and Wickaninnish Beach with swells in the .5 to three-metre range.

Tofino Hiking Trails

On land, backing up the on-water activities, are eight short hikes accessed from the main artery, Pacific Rim Highway.

One of the most popular and shortest is Radar Hill, just half a kilometre but much of it uphill to a spectacular viewpoint for vistas sweeping from the Pacific to Clayoquot Sound, Tofino Inlet and the stunning mountains which surround Tofino.

The Rainforest Trail is a two-kilometre loop which provides a good primer on the local ecosystem with informational signboards.

For something a bit more challenging, the Nuu Chah Nulth Trail, features 12 information stops explaining the Indigenous culture and a totem pole.

Tofino Food Tours

All that paddling and hiking will whet appetites. While Wild Origins is the only official food tour in the area, we will do our best on our adventures to ensure you experience the wide gastronomic spectrum.

Tofino offers everything from barbecue by the beach to haute cuisine protected by expanses of glass. We’re thinking of the epic platters at Lil’ Ronnie’s Beachside BBQ on Mackenzie Beach to The Pointe at The Wickaninnish Inn, where chefs create culinary worlds of art that come with a side of sticker shock.

We like to kick back at The Shed, a Tofino nerve-centre staple that offers affordable burgers, salads and takes care of we vegans, too. Its somewhat upscale sister, Shelter, creates the same churn of diners noshing on seafood, greens and plates of pasta, all in generous servings.

Meantime, the wood-fired pizzas spun out at Basic Goodness Pizzeria offer brilliantly puffy and golden dough on the perimeter and thin-crust under an array of options and classic tomato sauce in the centre. Upmarket again, there’s Wolf in the Fog, which features smart takes on the embarrassment of seafood riches in the region and a wide and fun range of cocktails delivered in laidback style.

Stripped of man-made attractions, the essential Tofino remains. This is where the beaches disappear into the sunsets, the surf always seems poised to engulf you and a thin line of the civilized world is permitted a tiny toehold in the sand.

Join us for a Tofino experience like no other this summer!

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