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Photo by: Sam Vandervalk

Tofino

The surf swept community of Tofino rests in the centre of Clayoquot Sound, an expanse of islets and inlets arranged like a collection of emeralds along the west coast of Vancouver Island. The meaning of Clayoquot comes from Tla-o- quia-aht “people who are different from who they used to be”. A fitting description any traveler should expect for themselves when journeying to this wild west coast town on the edge of the world.

Fast Facts:

Find the Visitor Centre at the t-intersection splitting Highway 4 between Ucluelet and Tofino and visit the Kwisitis Visitor Centre on Wickaninnish Bay for local information, highlights of the area and natural historical information of the Pacific Northwest.

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Population: Approximately 2000 ballooning in peak tourist seasons to upwards of 5000

The Whale Centre Maritime Museum displays found artifacts donated by Tofino locals over the past quarter century and exhibits tradition first nations from jewelry and artwork to whaling equipment and a complete 12 metre long (40 feet) skeleton of a gray whale. The museum is free to enter, find the museum at 411 Campbell Street downtown.


Outdoor Activities

Surfing

Tofino is Canada’s Surfing Capital, named by Outside Magazine as “the best surf town in North America” as part of its 2010 Editors’ Choice Awards. Tofino’s unique contribution to cold-water surf culture deserves its praise hosting seasoned and virgin wave riders now for decades. Local surf shops and schools like Surf Sister, Storm and Live to Surf keep the culture alive, visit them for equipment, fashion and information to find where the waves are pumping. Discover more of Tofino and greater Vancouver Island’s surf scene here.

Kayaking

Clayoquot sound is one of the epic places to kayak on the coast. Many little islands provide stopovers during a day or multiday adventure here. There is a water taxi available for those wanting a kickstart into some the deeper regions of the Sound.

Whale Watching: 

The pacific is often a haven for whale watching, and has some great whale watching. Gray and Humpback whales migrate through the coastal waters here, usually putting on amazing shows as they traverse back forth from their breeding grounds. Don’t forget, every spring, Tofino co-hosts the Pacific Rim Whale Festival. This festival showcases the incredible migration of nearly 20,000 Gray Whales. And if you want to get even closer to the viewing action, you can always charter a local boat to get up close and personal with these awesome specimens. You can board from either Ucluelet or nearby Tofino.

Windsufing

is less common along shorelines near Tofino but wide expanses of western exposure provide the opportunity.

Hiking and Beach Combing

opportunities abound near Tofino. Whether walking the successive 25 km’s (15.5 miles) of sand stretching through Radar, Long, Combers and Wickaninnish Beaches, the boardwalks and stairs of Tonquin Park trail near town or visiting historical Radar Hill or the World War 2 era Canso Bomber plane crash Tofino has near endless day hiking opportunities for all ages.

Camping

can be found at the popular Green Point Campground on Long Beach about 10km’s (6 miles) from town. You’ll find 94 vehicle/tent sites and 54 walk-in sites near the shore well maintained by Parks Canada. Surf Junction Campground closer to Ucluelet offers a privately owned alternative and also offers convenient surf rentals.

The Edge to Edge Marathon

hosted by Ucluelet and Tofino greets intrepid racers to challenge this west coast marathon.

Tofino Botanical Gardens

is easily accessible just off Pacific Rim Highway. The twelve acres of local flora, fauna, pools and ponds explores the relationship between the cultural and the natural.

The Eik Tree

stands proudly as a gate to the town. Gilded with steel keeping the now hollowed 800-year-old Western Red Cedar from toppling, the stalwart stands as a symbol encouraging the protection of vulnerable environments and reminds local residents of their victories won to protect local ecosystems from irresponsible de-forestation.

History

Fittingly named by Hydrographer Vicente Tofino de Miguel in 1792, the community of Tofino has hosted pioneers and explorers since its inception. The area has always been a magnet for the adventurous, whether coming to surf the cold waters of the rugged beach breaks, to storm watch on winter weekends, land a massive halibut or salmon in peak summer season, kayak through pristine tranquil waters, or escape to a relaxing spa in one of the areas glamorous resorts, Tofino has something for all who are willing to make the trek over the mountains from Port Alberni.