Illustration by Jeannie Phan
Perched on the western coast of Vancouver Island, Tofino lures you in with its dramatic landscape, unspoiled beaches, majestic rainforests and exciting local cuisine.
At home: Pacific Sands Beach Resort
Tucked into Cox Bay at the edge of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, this beachfront getaway provides a front-row seat to the pristine coastline that's dotted with surfers. The suites and tri-level beach houses each have a fully equipped kitchen for cooking local crab. Or pick up fresh fish tacos from Surfside Grill, the on-site takeout shack.
Luxe living: Wickaninnish Inn
This award-winning property offers breathtaking views of Chesterman Beach. Ride the complimentary bicycles on the bike path to town. When storm-watching season hits, grab a Helly Hansen raincoat (stocked in the closet) and take in nature's dramatic show. Book a table at The Pointe Restaurant, which is known for its re ned menu and panoramic views.
Rustic romance: Ocean Village
Dotted with its signature colony of "beehive" cabins, this resort features a more quirky cottagey stay. It's the ideal base for outdoorsy types looking to surf, kayak or bird- or bear-watch, whether venturing solo or in a group.
Truck stop: Tacofino Cantina
Make a pit stop at the original food truck—stationed in the back lot among surf shops and local eateries—that spawned several brick-and-mortar locations. Be sure to order the Baja-style fish tacos.
Town Local: Shelter Restaurant
Tofino's population is just 2,000, so you're bound to run into a local at this cozy wood-clad bistro located in the centre of town. Grab a seat inside or on the heated front patio to indulge in some unpretentious fare from nearby farms and waters.
Leader of the Pack: Wolf in the Fog
Chef Nick Nutting is at the helm of the kitchen in this award-winning restaurant that delivers polished cuisine with a forest-to-fork and ocean-to-table approach. Settle into the warm and inviting second-floor dining room, then get adventurous with your order: Try the signature potato-crusted oyster and cedar sour cocktail.
Whale of a time: Jamie's Whaling Station
Arrange a whale-watching tour on this large cruiser-style boat to see the more than 20,000 grey whales that migrate here every year.
Natural appeal: T'ashii Paddle School
Take to calmer waters on a stand-up paddleboard or in a dugout canoe. Or book a guided cultural walk through ancient forests to learn about First Nations history while exploring the rainforest.
By water: Tofino Sea Kayaking
Led by a veteran kayaker, beginners and experienced paddlers are outfitted for a picturesque tour through the harbour islands.
What's close by?
If you have time to range farther afield, here are three other cool spots to see on Vancouver Island.
Three hours away: Nanaimo
Your road trip to this harbour- side city is guaranteed to come with glorious vistas. Don't leave without indulging in one of its namesake treats.