A contemporary surf culture began to establish itself in the Tofino area by the early nineteen sixties. In 1971 the newly paved Highway 4 gave easier access to the region and it has since become a surf destination attracting brave cold-water enthusiasts from all over the region and the world.
A thriving surf scene has developed in Tofino and neighbouring Ucluelet to serve any wet suit clad surf seekers the chance to ride waves. Multiple surf shops and surf schools have become well established in the area leading veterans and visitors to the sandy shore breaks nearby offering consistent swells for any skill level and age.
Hosting the annual Queen of the Peak women-only competition, the Rip Curl Pro and O’neill’s touring Cold Water Classic has drawn professional surfers to Vancouver Island’s pristine waters and rugged shorelines. These events have given Vancouver Island notoriety in the surf world as well as through popular surf publications like Surfer Magazine. The secret is out; Canada’s west coast is an international surfing destination!
Chesterman’s is known to be one of Canada’s most popular surf beaches and was named “one of the best beginner breaks in North America” by Outside Magazine. The south end faces roughly south giving it a good wave on a south swell with a northwesterly wind. North Chesterman faces west and is better suited for a swell coming from the west or northwest with a wind coming from the southeast. Park near the South Chesterman’s beach access on Lynn Road that has a great new shower and toilet facility.
Consisting of three breaks known simply as the corner, middle and south end, Cox Bay always has waves breaking. It picks up most swells making it one of the most consistent spots for waves near Tofino. Exposure to larger swells and strong tidal rips make Cox a location for more advanced surfers but even beginners can catch waves in the white wash closer to shore.
About half way between Ucluelet and Tofino, Long Beach famously stretches out seemingly forever. It is also known as a good place to surf in the summer months making it a popular spot for surf lessons.
A hidden gem perhaps better known for its beauty than its waves, the beach is known by locals simply as “Flo”. The beach faces southward so when a good swell comes from the south this is the place to be. Because of the cliffs walling the beach the wind is cut keeping waters calm allowing cleaner waves.
Wickaninnish is known to be inconsistent but when it’s good it’s great. If it’s too small everywhere else Wickaninnish usually has something to offer. “Wick” is a convenient break if you’re coming from Ucluelet.
What was once a bustling logging camp has since become a popular surf destination with three distinct breaks known as the Point, Sewers and Rock Piles. These waves really turn on during the winter with a west to northwest and a northeast wind. The Point off the river mouth is famed for its potential to produce long rides.
Sombrio gives you the option of a beach and reef break. These consistent waves work best with a swell coming from the west with a north to northeasterly wind. Sombrio is surfable at any tide stage.
Located just south of Campbell River right on highway 19A, Stories Beach has a reef-like shelf of rock that can produce waves if just the right winter swell hits. When wicked winter south easterly winds blow hard enough this beach will support waves large enough to catch on a buoyant longboard or stand up paddle board.
Kye Bay & Goose Spit
Typically home to avid kite-boarders these locations are prone to waves during strong south easterly winter winds.
Kitty Coleman Beach & Bates Beach
Inside the Provincial Campground is a small river mouth point that will suppourt small waves dependent on wind swell during winter storms. South easterly winds drive swell up the Salish Sea with enough strength to produce small waves for longboarding or stand up paddle boards.