Post Summary: How To Spend 3 Days In Tofino, British Columbia
Looking for your next West Coast escape?
If you’re like us, we’re always trying to find an excuse to get to the ocean! While we may not be drawn to the sun-tanning, show-off-your-best-bikini type beaches, the coastal Pacific Northwest has that special draw that always makes us want more.
That’s why we made an effort to venture all the way out to Tofino, Canada’s surf capital of the country!
We wanted to see what the storm watching was all about, explore its many islands, and experience this temperate rainforest escape to share with you here. This place is full of adventure, which is why we are so excited to write this post!
Here, we’re sharing exactly how to plan 3 days in Tofino, with exact directions on how to get there, what to do, and where to stay!
How To Spend 3 Days In Tofino
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Directions To Tofino
There is only one way to reach Tofino, British Columbia and that is driving on Highway 4 (The Pacific Rim Highway) to the west coast (unless you’re taking a plane in, then lucky you!!)
Here is the distance to Tofino from other major cities on Vancouver Island:
- Nanaimo to Tofino: 3-hour drive, 207 kilometers
- Campbell River to Tofino: 3.5-hour drive, 270 kilometers
- Victoria to Tofino: 4-hour 15-minute drive, 317 kilometers
- Vancouver, BC to Tofino: 5.5-hour drive, 283 kilometers (including a ferry ride)
Note: If you are a US Citizen, you will need to bring your passport. Depending on your route, you will either cross the border in Vancouver, Canada, or take a ferry (like the Black Ball Ferry Line in Port Angeles), and show your passport to customs in Victoria, BC upon arrival. Don’t forget it!
When Should I Visit Tofino?
Tofino is a year-round destination, but the most popular time to visit Tofino is in the summer months. The town swells in size dramatically during the sunny season of May-August, and this is when you’ll find the prices are the highest for things like tours and accommodations.
It’s a fair trade-off, however, because Tofino in the summer has drop-dead gorgeous sunsets, amazing surfing, and basically endless options for long walks on the beach.
Winter months provide a bit more of a rugged adventure, with inclement weather like rain and storms part of the package. Many visitors come to Tofino in the winter to avoid the crowds, but also to indulge in the town’s unique take on the winter months.
Storm watching is a popular activity, where you can go and watch the powerful waves crash onto nearby sea stacks and rocky shoreline.
Where To Stay In Tofino, British Columbia
There is a seemingly endless list of incredible places to stay for your Tofino weekend itinerary! Below, we’re sharing our favorites, and highlighting the cool features of each of them to help you pick the right Tofino accommodations for you!
Cox Bay Resort (See Prices Here) – Cox Bay Resort is a great location for large groups or families. There are plenty of multi-bedroom rooms with full kitchens, so you can cook and stay on a budget! The resort is also on the beach for ample access to adventure.
Pacific Sands Resort (See Prices Here) – Pacific Sands Resort is also located on Cox Bay. This is a romantic spot, perfect for couples or people who want to have a little privacy (but still have an ocean view!).
Ocean Village Resort Tofino (See Prices Here) – For a cozy cabin feel, book a vintage 1976 oceanfront studio at Ocean Village Resort! Here, there are plenty of outdoor amenities and beach access, perfect for maximizing your time spent outside.
Middle Beach Lodge (See Prices Here) – The Middle Beach Lodge is like the grown up version of a treehouse! This historic lodge is a great place to meet likeminded people, and connect with yourself and your surroundings.
Tofino Airbnbs (First-time bookers can get $40 off here!): Airbnbs in Tofino are convenient, budget-friendly, and can be a great way to experience the area! Here are some of our favorite Tofino Airbnbs to rent:
- Hilltop Haven (See Prices Here): Budget-friendly, and walkable to downtown and grocery stores!
- The Harbourview Oceanfront Condo (See Prices Here): Incredible harbor views, right in the heart of downtown.
- Tofino Cabin (See Prices Here): Gorgeous, budget-friendly cabin, easy access to several beaches, and quiet!
Tofino Itinerary Day 1: Arrive in Tofino and Explore Downtown
Watch the Sunset at Mackenzie Beach
To begin your 3 days in Tofino, start by exploring the beach! The closest “big” beach in Tofino is Mackenzie Beach, which is an excellent option for a casual stroll during sunset. There is an island just offshore that breaks up big waves, which means this is a quieter oasis for families and paddle boarders.
This Tofino beach is a great introduction to the several gorgeous beaches, with plenty of space to wander, explore, and relax. For another adventure, check out Chesterman Beach and Frank Island, only accessible during low tide!
Have Dinner At Shelter
Shelter Restaurant is one of the most popular restaurants in Tofino, and for good reason! Their intimate ambiance, indoor fire features, and cozy booths make it the perfect spot for a date night or even a fun night out with friends.
For your order, we recommend the Salmon Surf Bowl – it’s packed with fresh ingredients and bold flavors for a great intro to the Tofino restaurant scene!
Tofino Itinerary Day 2: Explore Hiking Trails In Tofino
Get Breakfast At Rhino Tofino
Situated right in the middle of downtown, Rhino Coffee House has it all for the perfect start to your day in Tofino. From great coffee drinks to delicious breakfast sandwiches, this stop has it all.
Coffee and sandwiches aside, they are actually most well known for their donuts. They are seriously the best donuts we’ve ever tasted (we’re not kidding) so make sure you include this stop in your 3 day Tofino itinerary!
Hike To Tonquin Beach
Tonquin Beach is the closest beach access to downtown, making this a perfect Tofino hiking trail to take after breakfast. With an intricate series of boardwalks, viewpoints, and beach access points, you’ll be busy all morning!
Try The Famous Tacofino Food Truck For Lunch
No trip to Tofino is complete without lunch at the Tacofino Food truck!
Tacofino now has a few locations in BC, but the Tofino food truck is the original one. Serving fresh seafood and local Mexican flavors, this food truck is a great stop for surfers, explorers, and casual diners.
Feel free to sit outside on their long buffet-style tables, or take your order to go and eat on the beach!
Take a Hike To Cox Bay Lookout
Cox Bay Lookout is a short but steep hike located in the south part of, naturally, Cox Bay.
For easiest access, come at low tide and find the area where water flows into the ocean. Walk up the small stream and follow the highlighter-color flags up the steep and muddy trail.
After 20-25 minutes of scrappy, muddy climbing, you’ll reach the top with incredible views of downtown Tofino and the islands beyond!
Grab Drinks at Long Beach Resort
After a chilly (and potentially rainy) hike to Cox Bay Lookout, there’s no better way to warm up than in the restaurant of the Long Beach Lodge!
Their dining room has floor to ceiling windows for unobstucted views of the beach just steps outside of the resort.
Request a seat by the window to watch surfers catch some waves, and sip on some drinks as you warm up.
Dinner at Kuma Tofino
Kuma is Tofino’s premium Japanese comfort food restaurant, situated right in the heart of downtown.
From their incredible drinks, classic ramen bowls to makashi chicken, you’ll leave Kuma full and satisfied after a long day of exploring.
Tofino Itinerary Day 3: Explore The Wild Pacific Coast
Coffee At Tofitian
Tofitian Cafe is a cafe located in a grouping of restaurants and stores in South Tofino, right off the Pacific Rim Highway (also included in this grouping is the Tacofino food truck!).
Here, we found it incredibly convenient to grab a quick cup of coffee between exploring beaches. They can make custom drinks and have a wide selection of pastries, as well as goodies like t-shirt and mugs.
Explore Nearby Rainforest Trails
If you are looking for short and beautiful hikes in Tofino, you’re in luck! There are several gorgeous trails, boardwalks, and beach access spots perfect for a short afternoon adventure. Before hiking, make sure to bring the 10 essentials for hiking in the Pacific Northwest!
Here are our favorite easy Tofino hikes to consider:
- Rainforest Trail (A & B): Two separate loops through some of the most unique and lush rainforest areas of Tofino. Be prepared for lots of stairs and crossing a busy highway.
- South Beach Trail: A 1.6-kilometer trail through the rainforest, with interpretive signs talking about the indigenous history and cultural importance of the area.
- Comber’s Beach Trail: A 0.9-mile easy trail with quiet beach access.
- Wild Pacific Trail: Located a bit farther in Ucluelet, but 1000% worth it for the gorgeous sunset views.
Kwisitis Visitor Centre
Stop by the Kwisitis Visitor Centre on your way out of Tofino to experience one last gorgeous beach and museum! With the name meaning “the other side of the beach” in the Nuu-chah-nulth language, it’s a place to learn about the indigenous people that have cared for the land for centuries.
Step right outside on to Wickaninnish Beach, or venture a little farther to South Beach and Lismer Beach for a little more rainforest scenery.
Looking To Spend a Long Weekend in Tofino?
Want to extend your 3 days in Tofino? We don’t blame you, there is so much to do here!
If you’ve got a few more than three days to spend on the Vancouver Island west coast, here are some other amazing day trips from Tofino to consider adding to your itinerary!
Taking a Boat Tour to Hot Springs Cove – Hot Springs Cove is one of the coolest and most unique Pacific Northwest hot springs to explore! You’ll need to reserve a boat tour in advance to take you through the Clayoquot Sound, so come prepared!
Exploring the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve – The Pacific Rim National Park is just south of Tofino, with endless hikes, beaches, and activities to do!
Watch the Sunset on the Wild Pacific Trail In Ucluelet – The Wild Pacific Trail is an incredibly scenic hiking trail, full of stunning vistas and views. Come for a day trip from Tofino and stay for the sunset!
Whale Watching – Grey Whales, Humpbacks, and Orcas frequent the waters near Tofino! Ask some tour guides to figure out the best time of year to see these beautiful creatures!