The Scout Guide to Tofino

Heading to Tofino this summer? Take this handy, mobile-friendly map/guide of good things to eat, drink and do with you!
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The Scout Guide to Tofino

We know Tofino as a magical place of raw and rugged beauty that draws us year after year through all four seasons. To help you navigate its awesomeness, we’ve put together this guide that includes great places to stay, reader rankings of the best food and drink spots (plus a handy map that will steer you to all the best places), lists of sweet things to see and do, some background intel and a gallery of our own photos. We hope to see you up there on your next trip!

COOL THINGS WE’VE SEEN IN TOFINO

  • tofino2009 285
  • Skating a half pipe on the beach
  • A cold and wet good morning #tofino
  • Tacofino \ Tofino
  • tofino bella pacifica
  • Retail detail | Kuma Tofino
  • Artisan's hand
  • jig-caught local albacore tuna tataki | Kuma Tofino
  • Tofino detail
  • Tofino lesson #523: always have gumboots at the ready...
  • Winter surf
  • Tofino
  • #latergram Lunch time pine time #tofino we miss you
  • IMG_8986
  • Tofino Brewing
  • Skim boarding dog, Tofino
  • Surfing | Tofino
  • MacKenzie Beach
  • Pacific Sands, Tofino
  • Tofino forest
  • MacKenzie Beach
  • Ocean Village
  • tofino august 350
  • tofino TUCG 233
  • Tofino at Sunset
  • IMG_9645
  • Duke on the deck, Tofino
  • MacKenzie Beach
  • Andrew takes a break at the Tofino skatepark
  • IMG_9134
  • Attaboy...
  • Lisa Ahier, working on the line at Sobo
  • Heading to Tofino
  • Cheeky
  • Ocean Village
  • IMG_7843
  • MacKenzie Beach, Tofino
  • Tide pool
  • Out on the water looking for whales
  • Sobo noodles!
  • Wind chime, Wick Island
  • Tofino detail, Roy Henry Vickers
  • Tofino Oyster Festival
  • Tofino Brewing Co.
  • Bobby cooking corn on Mackenzie Beach

HOW TO GET THERE

By far and away our favourite way of getting to Tofino is via BC Ferries, leaving Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver bound for Nanaimo, then across the island on one of the most breathtaking (and occasionally white-knuckle) roads in the province. Alternatively, for those pressed for time, one can fly from YVR to Tofino-Long Beach Airport via Pacific Coastal or KD Air, or harbour to harbour via Harbour Air seaplane.

COOL THINGS TO CHECK OUT

Taking a birding break while whale-watching near Tofino | Photo: Scout Magazine

Learn how to surf with experts
Go beachcombing (especially tide line debris) on Chesterman Beach
Walk the trails of Pacific Rim National Park
Head out on the open ocean for a day of whale watching
Take a float plane up to Hot Springs Cove
Enjoy First Nations artwork at Roy Henry Vickers Gallery
Explore tide pools on MacKenzie Beach
Wander the Rainforest Trail
Spend some time browsing the shelves at Mermaid Tales Books
Watch local riders rip the outdoor concrete skatepark.

ESSENTIAL FOOD & DRINK

Digging into a little tuna tataki at Kuma | Photo: Scout Magazine
EXCELLENT HOAGIE SANDWICHES AT REDCAN GOURMET 700 Industrial Way MAP
CRISPY CALAMARI & SURF BOWLS AT SHELTER 601 Campbell St. MAP
HOT CUPS AT TOFINO COFFEE ROASTING CO. 112-605 Gibson St. MAP
The breakfast sandwich at Rhino Coffee House 430 Campbell St. MAP
The Beef Dip sandwich at The Hatch 634 Campbell St., Tofino, BC MAP
CEDAR SOURS AT WOLF IN THE FOG 150 Fourth St., Tofino MAP
TUNA TATAKI AT KUMA IN TOFINO 120-101 Fourth St., Tofino MAP
CHAMPAGNE SUNDAY BRUNCH AT THE POINTE IN TOFINO 500 Osprey Lane, Tofino MAP
EARLY MORNING ESPRESSO AT THE TOFITIAN 1180 Pacific Rim Hwy, Tofino MAP
CIBOLO SHRIMP & KEY LIME PIE AT SOBO 311 Neill St., Tofino MAP
MARGHERITA PIE AT BASIC GOODNESS PIZZA 551 Campbell St., Tofino MAP
SALMON BURGER AT WILDSIDE GRILL 1180 Pacific Rim Hwy, Tofino MAP
MUSSELS AND CLAMS STEAMED IN THE SHELL WITH TIDAL HERBS AT 1909 634 Campbell St., Tofino, BC MAP
FISH TACO AT THE ORIGINAL TACOFINO FOOD TRUCK 1184 Pacific Rim Hwy, Tofino MAP
STOP IN FOR A PINT, FLIGHT OR GROWLER FILL AT TOFINO BREWING CO . 691 Industrial Way, Tofino MAP

Which THREE are your "must visit" picks in Tofino?

View Results

WHERE TO STAY

The iconic beehive cabins at Ocean Village | Photo: Scout Magazine

If we remember to book well in advance, we’ll almost always start our Tofino visits with a night in one of the waterfront campsites at Bella Pacifica on Mackenzie Beach. Hearing the waves above a roaring campfire puts us immediately at ease.

Relais & Châteaux Wickaninnish Inn on Chesterman Beach, with its beautifully appointed Pointe Restaurant overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Though outstanding year round, it’s especially cozy in winter with all its fireplaces.

Tofino Resort + Marina is located right in town – not only does this reasonably priced resort have a view of the inner harbour (from floatplanes and whale watching boats to wildlife and stunning sunsets, ther eis always something going on in the harbour) it also has an on site restaurant and a pub.

One of our more approachable favourites is Ocean Village on Mackenzie Beach, with its adorable beehive cabins. It’s an easy choice that’s affordable, kid- and dog-friendly, equipped with kitchens, and with direct access to the beach.

If you’re looking for a more homey vacation rental option, there are many gems to be found including the modern, cabin-style Lucky Eagle Guest Lodge with architecture utilizing the richness of locally salvaged and milled materials (including a cedar sauna). Also worthy of note is the Tofino Tree House, which is tucked away in the rainforest with a heated wet-room and a big soaker tub with a view of the forest. For a smaller rental, check out The Loft cabin with its private outdoor shower.

FASCINATING THINGS OF NOTE

Exterior of Roy Henry Vickers Gallery in downtown Tofino | Photo: Scout Magazine

These entries via Scout staff historian by Christine Hagemoen

Tofino gets its name from nearby Tofino Inlet, which was named by Spanish Captains Galiano and Valdés in 1792 in honour of Admiral Vicente Tofiño, under whom Galiano had studied cartography.

The first use of the name Tofino was recorded with the opening of the Tofino Post Office in 1909.

In its early days Tofino was an isolated, rough maritime trading town, it was from these beginnings that Tofino earned the nickname “Tough City” (or Tuff City) – a moniker that carries on today most likely due to its long, rainy, stormy winters.

Tofino, known as the tree-hugging capital of the world, is home to an 800-year-old Western red cedar known as the Eik Cedar (or Herbie). Located on Campbell Street across from Shelter Restaurant, this tree was declared an insurance hazard in 2001, but was saved from destruction in 2002 through the efforts of passionate locals and a supportive steel girdle.

One of Vancouver’s favourite taco joints, Tacofino, started in 2009 from a food truck at the back of the Live to Surf parking lot in Tofino.

Started in 1999 to encourage more women to try surfing and to empower them out in the water, Tofino’s Surf Sister is the biggest all female instructor surf schools in the world.

Since 1986 Tofino has been home to the Pacific Rim Whale Festival that honours the annual migration of the Grey Whale past its shores.

In 1970, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve was created. It is a 511 square kilometre park that is divided into three areas: the West Coast Trail, the Broken Group Islands and Long Beach.

In the summer of 1993 Clayoquot Sound (in which Tofino sits) became the focus of one of the largest displays of civil disobedience in Canadian History. The Friends of Clayoquot Sound campaign to end the logging of old growth forests cumulated with more than 850 people being arrested for blockading logging roads on Meares Island.

In January of 2000, Clayoquot Sound was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, with a guiding principle based the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations philosophy “Hishuk ish ts’awalk,” or “everything is one.”

Tofino’s surf culture emerged in the late 1960s. One of the better-known Tofino surf pioneers was Jim Sadler. He travelled west on horseback from Olds, Alberta to Victoria in 1948. Eventually settling in Tofino in the mid-1960s, he began paddling the swells on a 13-foot plywood board.

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There are 5 comments

  1. What about the Schooner Restaurant? Tofino’s oldest and still the local favourite..69 years and going strong.
    It has been in the same family since 1968..going on 4 generations.

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