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A Guide to Tofino, British Columbia

A Guide to Tofino, British Columbia

We first visited Vancouver Island to do some exploring and hiking in Tofino & Ucluelet, BC while there shooting an elopement a couple years ago. We were fortunate to return last summer with our son for another elopement and extended our stay to make a family trip out of it. There are so many great day hikes and view spots to explore. Between Tofino and Ucluelet is Pacific Rim National Park Reserve where temperate rain forests provided some awesome views and shade from the rain. We broke down our trip below including a few of the places we stayed and easy day-hikes.

Cathedral Grove

Found along the highway between Nanaimo and Ucluelet, it’s impossible to miss since the highway cuts through the forest. Take a break and do a short 1 km or 2 km loop on the walking trail, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Cox Bay

Considered the best surf spot in the area. We found a hidden trail that led us up a steep mountain side to an incredible view of the bay and surrounding islands and mountains. The first time we did this hike it was the day after a storm, so the trail was very muddy and slippery. We had to balance on roots and be careful not to end up soaking our feet in muddy rain water that collected around the tree roots along the trail. The next time we did it, with our son, it was a dry day. Still very steep and Matt didn’t make it the whole way up with the baby carrier. Do this hike on a clear day and ideally not after heavy rain fall.

Rainforest Trail, Pacific Rim National Park

Wooden platforms guide you through a temperate rain forest filled with massive redwoods and pretty emerald ferns. There are two trails, A & B. You’ll have to cross the street to do loop A which is 1.2 km. Loop B is found near the parking lot and is just as beautiful. Take note: you have to pay for a parking pass in the national park but it’s good until 4 pm the following day.

Schooner Cove, Pacific Rim National Park

Similar to Rainforest Trail, Schooner cove trail starts off in rainforest with wooden platforms guiding you to the beach. I’d try to avoid this if it’s raining because at the cove there is no coverage and you’re right on the ocean, so it can get quite breezy.

Long Beach

A quick stop along the highway between Tofino & Ucluelet. Lots of surfers, teepees made of driftwood and foggy views.

Wild Pacific Trail, Ucluelet

This is a 5 km loop that starts in various spots. We did the entire loop with beautiful coastal views, forest trails and inlets that you can walk down to and explore. After we stopped at Ravenlady foodtruck for the best octopus pasta and fish tacos we’ve had.

Chesterman Beach

We had to hit up Chesterman Beach. It was a gloomy day but surfers were out enjoying the waves.

Watch Sunset from the Pier or Beach

Try Surfing!

I honestly didn’t think surfing would be as tough as it was. Although we snowboard and have fairly good balance, trying to stand up on a surf board is an entirely new thing and we were excited to try it out, albeit we weren’t the best. The wet suits are a must, the water was pretty chilly.

Where to Stay

The Shoreline - a-frame rentals with kitchens and a beautiful view of the bay (great sunset spot!)

Wya Point Resort - we stayed in a yurt right on the beach. Our yurt was right on the water and we fell asleep to the sound of crashing waves. Also, they have shower facilities and a gas stove for chilly nights.

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Where to Eat

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Tacofino - taco truck serving delicious tacos & smoothies. Go early to avoid the long line!
The Shed - beer, burgers, salads and delicious soft serve ice cream!
Tofitian Coffee - small coffee shop near Tacofino
Tofino Brewing Co. - brewery serving up snacks and good drinks after a day of hiking and surfing
Ravenlady Foodtruck - located in Ucluelet, this is a great spot to stop after the Wild Pacific Trail

What to Pack

Tofino weather is all over the place. One moment it’s rainy and foggy and the next it’s sunny and warm. It’s best to dress in layers and pack the essentials to have just in case. You’ll definitely want to bring a waterproof rain jacket. I love my Helly Hansen rain jacket. I have it in a large junior size (it was on sale!). I layer this with my Patagonia Organic Cotton Quilt Snap-T Pullover. If you’re visiting in the late summer or early spring, it’s not a bad idea to have base layers, even if it’s just to lounge around at night. I like my Icebreaker Bodyfit 260 Tech Crew and Leggings. I also like these ultra light Smartwool hiking socks and these Smartwool Crew Socks for at night while we’re having drinks on the patio. For footwear it’s a good idea to have some waterproof or water resistent boots. I like my Blundstone Thermal Series Boot and my Merrell Ontario Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot. I also pack a pair of running shoes and a pair of more casual shoes for around town.

To stay hydrated on the trails and at the beach, I always have a reusable water bottle with me. I like my CamelBak Chute Magnetic Cap Bottle. To keep drinks insulated (nice and cold or hot for those chilly days) there’s also Hydro Flask standard water bottle.

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