Tofino and Ucluelet are well known around the world for its surfing and laid back island lifestyle. A must see tourist destination for those coming to Vancouver Island. So, it’s surprising to me how many locals have never been. (Including me!) There is so much more to these beautiful towns than just surfing. Whether you’re looking for exhilarating adventure or luxurious relaxation, you will find what you’re looking for. Here are my 6 favourite reasons why you should plan an adventure here now!
1. The Beaches
Easily the biggest draw to the West Coast are the incredible beaches that can be found near Pacific Rim National Park. Tofino is considered Canada’s surf capital and many of the beaches draw people from around the world.
One of the places I couldn’t wait to check out was Long Beach. With over 16 kilometers of sandy shores, you’ll be sure to have lots of room even in the busy summer months. If you’re not a surfer, spend some time searching for grey and humpback whales which are often spotted in the distance.
We also visited Chesterman Beach which is a popular choice for Tofino locals (known as Tofitians). Beautiful homes line the shore and at the far south end you’ll find the famous Wicaninnish Inn.
There is much to do at Chesterman Beach.
- At low tide check out various tidepools brimming with life including sea stars and anemones.
- Try your hand at surfing with one of the areas Surf Schools.
- Find an amazing souvenir at the Carving Shed, and watch these talented carvers at work.
Cox Bay Beach
The prime location for Tofino surf competitions as it offers the most consistent waves. You may even spot some professionals showing off their skills. Many popular resorts are in walking distance of this spectacular crescent shaped beach. Near the Northern tip (far right when facing the ocean), at low tide, be sure to explore the tidal caves.
The highlight for me was finding the hidden gem of Tofino; the Cox Bay Lookout. There is no formal hiking trail but the makeshift trail can be found at the South end of Cox Bay Beach. It’s a hike right through the lush rainforest, taking about 45 min with an elevation gain of around 400M. Well worth the effort for the view at the top. Top Tip: Bring good waterproof footwear! It can get quite muddy and marshy in places.
Do you have a favourite beach to visit? Let us know in the comments below.
2. The Food
With all this exploring, don’t forget to give your body some delicious nourishment. Being so close to the ocean, fresh seafood is an obvious choice but there are many places here offering incredible options for the Foodie in you.
Here are my top 6 favourite places to eat when you’re in Tofino/Ucluelet.
This little coffee shop is along the highway before you hit the town of Tofino. Not only is their coffee incredible, but their in-house bakery offers up some delectable treats that I couldn’t get enough of! We tried an egg, ham and gruyere scone, along with a full butter croissant and the Matcha latte was delicious. This is the perfect place to start your day before exploring the landscape.
Wolf and The Fog
Right in the heart of Tofino lies this gem of a restaurant. They were booked solid for dinner so we instead opted for breakfast. Overlooking the main drag, Wolf and the Fog is filled with west-coast inspired décor and a mesmerizing bar to create any cocktail you can dream up.
We enjoyed the Spring Veg Benny and the Big Bad Wolf Breakfast. Everything is made from scratch. The eggs were perfectly poached and the lemon hollandaise added a fresh twist to a traditional benny. The green veggies were so full of flavour that I never even missed the meat. Grilled sourdough bread and homemade jam were such a treat as well. (I’d go back just for that!)
While it was only 1030am, I knew we wouldn’t make it back for happy hour so I splurged on one of their signature cocktails; The Scottish Pool Boy. It was an interesting mix of peated whiskey, coconut water, macadamia nut liqueur and pineapple bitters. At Happy Hour, it’s a deal at half price! Don’t forget to try their potato-crusted oysters; it’s their most famous dish.
This food truck is in the heart of Ucluelet (about a half hour drive from Tofino). Fresh, local fish, crispy batter and fried to perfection. Plus, the homemade fries and tarter sauce are a tasty accompaniment. If you like fish & chips, this is a must visit. Note: they are cash only. No debit or credit.
Eagles Nest Pub
Located at the marina, this pub can be quite the bustling hangout for fisherman but on the day we visited, there were no boats in the harbour and we basically had the restaurant to ourselves. We had just planned to have a drink here but decided to order the calamari. So glad we did!
Calamari was fresh, perfectly seasoned and crispy without being overdone. Our waitress Christie was fantastic. She was very friendly and suggested we don’t miss out on the Floathouse and Howler’s (see below). We were grateful for her recommendations.
Floathouse Patio and Grill
I loved that this restaurant was a barge right on the water. The view of the marina as the sun began to set was stunning. We opted to get the Pan Seared Prawns and the Smoked Cheddar Cheese Sticks. WOW!
This is a wonderful place for a romantic dinner or cocktails.
Howlers Family Restaurant
This was not a place we had planned on going but was our favourite place by far. Tables for dinner, a cozy couch area with dart boards, pool tables, bowling and an arcade. If you want to hang where the locals go, this is your place. An easy walk back to our home away from home at Water’s Edge Resort.
On your way to or from, make sure to stop in Port Alberni at the Clambucket, especially if clam chowder makes your taste buds excited. Everything we tried here was incredible, especially the Dill Pickle Poutine!
3. The Accommodations
If you’re looking for a place to stay while adventuring in the area, here are my recommendations.
Waters Edge Resort
We had a beautiful 1-bedroom suite, with a jetted tub on the balcony, overlooking the marina. It’s within walking
distance to the town of Ucluelet, has friendly staff and an on-site spa to relax and renew after a day of hiking or surfing. There are full kitchens here and some units are pet-friendly. The on-site restaurant, Seom, serves up Japanese fusion inspired cuisine. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or have the kids in tow, this is a fantastic home away from home.
This beautiful hotel has been around for over 25 years, and overlooks some of the most stunning Vancouver Island scenery with direct access to Chesterman Beach.
Hotel Zed – this new 70’s style hotel has a fun, youthful, island vibe
and you can even ride your bike through the lobby! Check out their
bird sanctuary, psychic’s den and mini-disco.
Pacific Sands Beach Resort – they have a variety of accommodations
including beach houses, Oceanside suites, lighthouse suites,
beachfront suites and more. You’ll have a fully equipped kitchen and
some can sleep up to 8 guests.
Looking for more recommendations? I can help you plan your north island
adventure. Leave a comment below or email me at