The Top 10 Things to do in Tofino

Life does not always give you opportunities like a visit to Tofino, B.C! And when it does, it would be a shame to not know how to make the most out of it. So, here’s a quick run through some of the best things to do in Tofino.

For those who haven’t been to Tofino before, it’s a little paradise on earth. Yes, you heard me right. It’s a remote destination located at the tip of the Esowista Peninsula. Well, not exactly remote now, because its beauty attracts plenty of tourists every year, visiting to appreciate nature and seek tranquility.

The Top Things to Do in Tofino

  1. Whale & Seal Watching
  2. Surfing
  3. Storm Watching
  4. Sea-Plane Tour
  5. Botanical Gardens
  6. Trails & Hiking
  7. Black Bear Viewing
  8. Kayaking
  9. Hot Springs Cove
  10. Food & Drink
Tofino Surfing at Sunset
Killer Whale Watching Tofino

1. Meet the Famous Gray Whales and Seals of Tofino

For the wildlife and animal lovers, this surely is a treat you would cherish for a lifetime! Gray whale and seals spotting is one of the most important reasons why you must visit Tofino. It’s one of those things to do in Tofino that we are certain that anyone must miss out on.

Gray whales are considered to be the largest mammal alongside their close relative, the blue whale. They migrate every year from Baja, California, to Alaska along the Pacific coast of North America.

The interesting fact about whale spotting in Tofino is that you can spot them by watching for their spouts or by listening to their vocalizations. It’s never that tough, especially if you’re quite lucky.

If you want to take a closer look at them (you should!), you can go on a boat tour or head down to Tow Hill Park, where they are often seen breaching in shallower waters. You can also watch for seals – which are found all around Tofino – as they come ashore at night to feed on crabs and other small marine creatures.

Next, for the adventure-seekers;

2. Go Surfing in the Tofino Waters!

Tofino is more known for its surfing than anything else. As such, surfing is one of the most popular things to do here. The town’s beaches are often ranked among some of the best in North America because they offer both sheltered bays and world-class point breaks that attract surfers from all over the world. Whether you are a beginner or a professional surfer, Tofino is welcoming to give you an unforgettable surfing experience.

Surfing in Tofino holds some of the best conditions in the world with its long sandy beaches and reliable waves throughout the winter months.

With a growing swell and plenty of room to grow for surfers at all levels, Tofino is an up-and-coming destination for surfing enthusiasts from around the world!

Now that you’ve added surfing to your list, we cannot miss out on the next best adventure;

Storm watching Ucluelet & Tofino

3. Storm Watching!

As adventurous as it sounds, storm watching is one of the most recommended things to do in Tofino. If you have heard of the saying, ‘devil in the disguise of an angel’, then storm watching in Tofino is such!

It is a great activity that allows you to experience the raw power and beauty of nature in a safe and comfortable environment. If you are still wondering why you should add it to your list of things to do in Tofino, then here are two more reasons why.

Firstly, it takes place on a secluded beach with no people around. Yes! Introverts, get your next ticket to Tofino ready. And secondly, the viewer has the chance to be closer to nature because this activity happens during sunset hours when no waves are breaking onshore for miles around.

Storm watching in Tofino is a singular experience that comes with endless rewards. Watching the sunset over the ocean and feel the wind and thunder beneath your feet is a memory you’ll never forget.

The next best thing on the list is for those who love aerial views of nature. I mean, isn’t it true that everything looks spectacular from above? That’s why you need to,

Sea-plane tour tofino

4. Take a Scenic Flight for Breath-Taking Views!

Staying overnight in Tofino allows you to experience the beauty of the surrounding landscapes throughout the day. Start by taking a scenic flight, which takes you over one of the best sights in Tofino – The Makah Cultural Center – before heading to Wickaninnish Inn.

You are not only floating above one of the most picturesque landscapes but also giving your mind a tranquil break from reality!

The only way to fully appreciate the beauty of Tofino is to take a scenic flight and see the land and the sea from above. Many airlines offer services in Tofino that will allow you to take smooth flights, giving you the chance to see the best scenery like forests, beaches, coves, salmon farms, oyster farms, or even whale watching.

Get your best camera and get rid of your fear of heights to make the most of your scenic flight experience in Tofino.

Coming up next in the list is again for nature lovers but also best recommended for couples and families!

Tofino Botanical Gardens

5. Stroll and Explore the Tofino Botanical Gardens

If you are a solo traveler or an adventure lover, the botanical gardens may sometimes not be the best option. But for families and couples looking out for the best getaway into nature, a visit to the Botanical Gardens is surely one of the best things to do in Tofino!

The Tofino Botanical Gardens consist of twelve acres of gardens, a shoreline, and thick forest. It is a mix of nature and culture. For those who are sustainability conscious, the specialty of Tofino Botanical Gardens is that its mission is to inspire conservation of the world’s Temperate Coastal Rainforests. It’s like beauty with brains!

The gardens contain amazing artworks, all perfectly integrated for visitors to explore and admire. Whether you are just there for a picnic or for an ideal exploration, you’re sure to have fun as you start finding each hidden artwork that surprises you as you walk through.

Down the boardwalks and internal paths, you can also find botanical plans, edible gardens, ponds, and a restaurant. The gardens operate from their Pacific Rim Highway entrance to the Tofino Inlet mudflats.

The Tofino Botanical Gardens is not just one of the top things to do in Tofino, but also a one-of-a-kind experience if you want to carry memories back home.

For those who’d like to visit, there is no need to wait for the weekends, because the gardens open from dusk till dawn on the weekdays too!

For the adrenaline junkie in you, the next option is among the best things to do in Tofino!

Tofino Bike Trails

6. Hike the Trails of Tofino

How can one be an adventure lover and not encounter hiking in Tofino? That’s the first question anyone would ask you on your visit here! We’ll tell you why.

Tofino is one of the best destinations for adventure lovers and hikers around the world. Out of the best things to do in Tofino, hiking has its own fanbase after hiking. Various hiking trails here range from 500 meters to one kilometer and also from seven to eight kilometers with both stair and flatland hiking.

If we were to give you a whole list of hiking trails (we surely would), we could write a whole new article on it! Because Tofino is filled with hiking trails. To make your quest for hiking trails quick and easy, we have filtered three out of the best 17 trails.

Rainforest Trail, Tofino

a. Rainforest Trail

Just like its name, the rainforest trail is one of the most peaceful hikes in Tofino. It provides the opportunity to view some of the oldest trees in Canada. With trees that grew in gardens long before European explorers entered Asia and Columbus visited the Americas, this trail is a walk through a living natural history museum.

When you descend into the dense rainforest, your hearing is quickly drowned out by the sounds of gnarled, towering hemlock, fir, and cedar trees. A confirmed thriller for the adventure in you!

Also, don’t forget to watch for highlights such as a bridge made from a single, fallen old-growth log as you weave your way along the boardwalk across streams and gullies.

Wild Pacific Trail, Ucluelet

b. Wild Pacific Trail, Ucluelet

This trail winds along the rocky coastline of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, running along soft-sand beaches and looking out to offshore islands. It circles along the wild and rocky shoreline of the Ucluelet Peninsula in the town of Ucluelet on Vancouver Island, with unforgettable views of the vast Barkley Sound, the Broken Group Islands, and the Pacific Ocean.

Starting at the lighthouse at Amphitrite Point, it travels north along an open Pacific coastline through Big Beach Park to a bike path just outside Ucluelet. The trail will be extended to Halfmoon Bay in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve for the final section.

Visitors can view the miles of shoreline from benches at viewpoints and through hiking trails. In most areas, the trail is accessible to people of all ages and abilities, including those with wheelchairs.

However, neither bicycles, horses, nor motorized vehicles are permitted on the park’s beaches or trails. Currently, the trail is divided into three sections: Lighthouse Loop, Big Beach, and Brown’s Beach.

A brochure with trail maps is available at the visitor centers in Ucluelet or at the Tofino/Ucluelet Highway junction. So, you’ll have no struggles in finding your way back through!

Tofino Trail

c. Tonquin Trail

Known as one of the best hiking trails to watch a sunset, the Tonquin trail is one of the top things to do in Tofino. Walk along this delightful trail with detours that lead to Third Beach, Middle Beach, and Tonquin Beach. It has treehouse-style viewing platforms and viewing platforms over the waterfront. Located less than a kilometer from the center of Tofino, you’ll find panoramic views of Wickaninnish Island, Templar Channel, and The Tonquin wreck.

There are several smaller, stunning beaches along the Tonquin Trail, which is a great way to get to the ocean if you are staying in downtown Tofino.

After hours of walking, a quick relaxation at the Tonquin beach would undoubtedly give you a tranquil experience! Additionally, the calm and clear water of the Tonquin beach also gives you the best chance for a relaxing swim and wade!

Tofino Black Bear

7. Meet your Childhood Favorite: Black Bears!

Got kids who love bears or a kid in you that wants to reminisce the best childhood memories wanting to meet a real bear? Then this should be on your list of things to do in Tofino!

There are no better places to view black bears than Clayoquot Sound, Tofino’s coastline. Many of the bear watching tours in Tofino take place in the calm and protected waters surrounding Meares Island and other small scenic islands throughout Sound.

At low tide, the bears of Clayoquot Sound visit beaches to eat beach delicacies like rock crab, starfish, and even a little kelp. Since their poor eyesight makes it nearly impossible for them to detect us, they don’t have much trouble staying unaware of us from their boat, provided we remain quiet and keep a respectable distance upwind from them. There will also be opportunities on this tour to observe eagles, harbor porpoises, seals, river otters, blue herons, and other wildlife species!

Typically, bear-watching tours are available after the bears awaken from winter hibernation, which usually happens between April and May. By the end of October, the bears head up the river to feast on salmon, and the bear-watching season concludes. So, if you’ve already got it on your list, then you know when to make it happen!

Next, the best in the list of things to do in Tofino is for adventure lovers and thrill-seekers!

Kayaking in Tofino

8. Experience Kayaking

Tofino is situated on Vancouver Island’s wild Pacific coast, making it the perfect place to launch kayak trips. The Canadian River is only three hours north of Nanaimo by Highway 4, which makes it a great destination for a weekend trip or longer paddling vacation.

In addition to learning more about the rich marine and rainforest ecology, beginners, families, and visitors can launch their kayaks in town and explore sheltered waters with professional naturalist guides. You will find kayaking tours as an overnight or multiday adventure in Clayoquot Sound — you can explore on your own or join a guided tour to take advantage of guidance and comfort. Besides being a great place to kayak, Tofino is also a good starting point for some of the best kayak surfing on the West Coast.

There are numerous kayaking opportunities in Tofino, but probably the most popular is kayaking in Clayoquot Sound, into which ancient rainforests meet tidal flats before changing to rocky headlands and surf-swept beaches. Magical seascapes like this are available for everyone, so bring out the adventurer in you and make thrill-filled memories on your visit by Kayaking.

One before the last on our shortlist is for nature lovers and peace seekers.

Hot Springs Tofino

9. Visit the Hot Springs Cove

A hot bath in your personal tub or shower sounds pleasing, but we are sure no one would not want to experience a good bath in an outdoor hot spring!

Visits to the hot springs in Tofino are enjoyable for more than just soaking in some of the most beautiful hot springs in B.C. (which, of course, would have been well worth the trip regardless).

The whole day is an adventure, exploring different hot springs and relaxing in the hot tub. It’s a fantastic boat tour through Clayoquot Sound, plus you get to watch whales and hike through the old-growth rainforest before and after the hot springs.

People tend to think that a trip to the springs, whether by plane or boat, provides a view worth taking the trip for. But that’s not where the fun ends!

A leisurely 20–30-minute walk leads from Hot Springs Cove to the dock through an ancient forest and along an earthy trail. Hot Springs Cove’s incredible water temperature allows residents of all seasons to enjoy the cove, even in cold temperatures.

The pools at Hot Springs Cove range from hotter to cooler temperatures, and one of them includes a hot water waterfall. Splendid for nature lovers! Submerged in the refreshing water, you’ll believe that you are in an idyllic setting as you look out at the ocean and sky.

Tacofino Tofino

10. Explore the Food Stores

How can we have a complete list without food in it? And that too, one cannot just leave Tofino without having tried out its delectable seafood varieties!

Tofino has a great culinary scene and several mouth-watering delicacies, from fish tacos, to craft beer, caviar, and more.

The best fish taco in the world is hands down found here. Apart from that, another specialty of Tofino is its smoked salmon from the Dockside Smoked Fish Store. For seafood lovers, a stop by the original food truck in Tofino to grab some mouth-watering tacos is a must!

Besides these seafood spots, places like Kuma, Wolf in the Fog, Wildside Grill, and SoBo are some of the best places to eat in Tofino.

However, these are only some of the many things to do in Tofino. Want to read more? Subscribe to our blog and stay tuned with Lifty Life!