The things to do in Tofino often involve water—this coastal British Columbia town is a natural place for surfing, whale watching, and kayaking. But there’s plenty to do on land too, in between the ocean and the rain forest. Tofino’s hot springs have long attracted weary travelers, just as its luxury resorts have provided a place to escape from the ordinary. Whether you’re up for an adventure or feel as lazy as one of Tofino’s sea lions, you’ll find plenty to like in this town on the western shores of Vancouver Island.
When the winds blow just right and the waves rise, surfers grab their boards in search of the thrill. Tofino is known as Canada’s Surf Capital for good reason; it’s home to some of the best surfing beaches along the country’s Pacific coast. There are endless stretches of sandy beaches where the breaks are just right for all kinds of surfers, everyone from newbies and expert surfers. Plenty of local outfitters are available to provide gear and lessons for all types of surfers. The water does run a little cold, but it’s a consistent temperature from season to season. This means that it’s possible to go surfing in the winter as well as the height of summer.
Tofino Hot Springs
Tofino Hot Springs Image: A tea but no e (flickr)
The hot springs also remain a constant temperature, but they’re much warmer than the Pacific Ocean. To find the hot springs, you’ll need to head north of Tofino to Maquinna Marine Provincial Park, accessible by a one-hour water taxi ride. At the appropriately named Hot Springs Cove, the warm water bubbles up from the earth and flows into several natural rock pools. Ocean water sweeps in, cooling the water and keeping it clean. After a dip in the hot springs you can take a shower under one of the waterfalls or go explore to see what else the park has to offer, including sea kayaking and hiking the wilderness trail.
Tofino Resorts Image:Crystal Cove Beach Resort
While you have a lot of choices of places to stay on Vancouver Island, the Tofino resorts draw a lot of attention. You’ll have several options, and with more options, it’s easier to find a resort that perfect suits your style and budget. Some of these operate like luxury hotels with top-notch amenities like spas and gourmet dining. Others are geared around all the things to do in Tofino, offering more lodge-like accommodations. Whatever resort grabs your attention, you can expect to find great views and easy access to Tofino’s beaches and other favorite locations.
Tofino Whale Watching
Tofino Whale Watching Image: roland (flickr)
On the list of things to do in Tofino, wildlife watching is at the top for many people. Several different kinds of whales pass through from season to season, and several tour companies can take you out to see the whales between October and May. Some tours depart on quick and nimble Zodiac boats, while others depart on cozy yachts. Either type of cruise will bring you to where orcas, gray whales, and humpbacks splash in the surf.
Tofino Sea Kayaking Tours
Tofino Sea Kayaking Tours Image: rolfkleef (flickr), CC BY-SA 2.0
Another way to see whales is a sea kayaking tour — no fossil fuels required. A paddling tour is an excellent way to step off shore and experience life at a different pace. It’s possible to take a guided tour or just rent the gear to head off on your own to explore the waters of Tofino.