Situated on the west coast of Canada’s Vancouver Island, Tofino is a place for being immersed within nature and embracing small-town living. Accessible by ferry or air travel, Tofino is positioned along a peninsula in Clayoquot Sound, at the end of the Pacific Rim Highway. Tofino is known as Canada’s surf capital too, thanks to its many beaches including Cox Bay and Chesterman Beach. 

Outdoor Activities

While visitors come to stay and play for a while, Tofino has a year-round resident population with businesses that offer food and drink, wellness, shopping, and much more in the way of outdoor activities. 

Some companies offer guide-led outings for whale watching or observing black bears. Another tour-led activity is a visit by seaplane or boat to Hot Springs Cove, a collection of natural thermal pools 26 nautical miles from Tofino at Maquinna Marine Provincial Park. 

There’s also Long Beach, linked to Pacific Rim National Park, a popular place for hiking, surfing, birdwatching and cultural engagement with the Nuu-chah-nulth people

The Surf Sister Surf School provides a good introduction to surfing for men and women with both group and private lessons led by its all-women staff. The school is located at the Pacific Sands Beach Resort, an eco-focused property sitting along Cox Bay with luxury beach houses and suites in categories ranging from lodge and oceanside to lighthouse as well as home to a casual Surfside Grill restaurant.

Dining wise, Tofino has a relaxed culinary scene that’s also locally sourced and at times, refined. Start off with a latte and a breakfast sandwich, and continue on with a lunch stop at a food truck or a brewpub. Begin the evening with fine dining incorporating local bounty and creative decor but without the fussiness. 

Chocolate Tofino

Run by couple Kim and Cam Shaw, this hand-crafted chocolate and gelato shop has quite the selection of confections and ice cream. Their decadent chocolates encompass truffles, caramels, hearts and other shapes. Flavors can range from hazelnut and vanilla to wild blackberries from Clayoquot Sound and Canadian maple syrup. Their ice cream is just as varied in taste and can be served in a freshly made waffle cone. The popular Chocolate Tofino Bear is a nod to the black bear population; holding tiny chocolate fish and sea creatures. 

 

Rhino Coffee House


This coffee shop serves breakfast and lunch and is noted for its specialty of freshly made daily donuts. These pastries come in characteristics such as the Vegan Josie Jelly and maple bacon. Their all-day breakfast menu is a mix of funny-named and filling orders; consider the Bro Nut – a fried egg, meat and tomato combo on a donut. Along with a variety of options for wraps, sandwiches, and salads, their coffee selection includes organic medium and dark roast, decaf, espresso and a Surfer Blend.

Tofino Brewing Company


Producing small-batch beers with Pacific Northwest hops, this brewery implements an low-impact operation by using hydroelectric power and a water recovery system to recapture and reuse water from the heat exchange process in brewing. At its tasting room, their selections can extend to the year-round Tuff Session Ale, Tofino Lager, and Kelp Stout — yes, with the latter including kelp — and seasonals such as a Winter Lager, Cosmic Wave Double IPA and Dawn Patrol Coffee Porter.

Tacofino


Now a British Columbia chain, Tacofino began and still operates its flagship location in Tofino — a food truck based at 1184 Pacific Rim Highway. Menu base options for tacos can involve fish, chicken, beef, beans and vegan; there are similar varieties for burritos and gringas. 

Clarity Apothecary

Based within a garage, Clarity Apothecary and Clarity Integrated Health owner Claire Bond applied her study of how scent receptors can aid in healing and providing calm toward creating nine signature scents. Customers can take a whiff of each fragrant essential oil and purchase them in a spray bottle, a roll-on or a pure oil dropper.

WOLF in the FOG

This family-style dining establishment is all about hyper-local and seasonal sourcing. Its seafood and meats come from Tofino and Vancouver Island suppliers and greens and mushrooms are harvested via forging from surrounding forests. WOLF in the FOG has an emphasis on shared plates too, with brunch and dinner orders served on vintage tableware. 

Shelter Restaurant


Based in a contemporary wooden house, this lunch and dinner venue is also about freshness. Their sourdough Bread Boule is a good start to your meal; so are their crispy Brussel sprouts and Sakamoto Tuna Tataki. Polish off with the chocolate trio from their dessert menu – a salted caramel pot de créme, espresso mousse cake and chocolate truffle. 

Are you going to be exploring Vancouver soon? Check out our A Nature Lover’s Guide to Vancouver or our Instagrammer’s Guide to Vancouver.

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Michele Herrmann writes about travel, arts and entertainment, culture, history, food and drink, and other fun stuff for various publications and companies. Her adventures have taken her as far as Fiji, to date.