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Tofino Time: The Perfect Place to Take a Break

Our top five things to see and do in Vancouver Island’s surfing mecca

A man and woman in swimsuits explore the rocky shores in Tofino, British Columbia

Nestled among the islands and inlets of Vancouver Island’s west coast, the town of Tofino seems to have something for every type of traveller. Here are five things to see and do on your next visit.

Take a tour of Hot Springs Cove

Once Tofino’s best-kept secret, this natural wonder about 50 kilometres up the coast is now accessible to all, albeit only by water or air. Book the Hot Springs Cove Sea and Sky Tour with Jamie’s Whaling Station for a taste of both. Take the 60- to 90-minute boat ride one way to ride the swells of the Pacific and view wildlife like otters and sea lions (and maybe even whales) before arriving at the dock and walking the approximately 30-minute route along the boardwalk to get to the springs. After a soak in the rock pools (and maybe a chilly dip in the ocean), return via float plane for stellar views of the coast.

Check Out the Shops

If you flew to Tofino, you’ll be cursing any luggage limits once you’ve seen the wares available at its cute boutiques—or perhaps not, since they’ll happily ship to you. For First Nations handmade arts and gifts like clothing and jewelry, head to House of Himwitsa. Christy Feaver Modern Metalwork sells the owner’s jewelry designs as well as other locally made items including natural beauty products and modern, colourful pottery. Art lovers shouldn’t miss a visit to the Roy Henry Vickers Eagle Aerie Gallery for a first-hand look at the artist’s renowned original prints, along with his beautiful paintings and carvings.

Eat your heart out

Don’t miss a visit to Wolf in the Fog’s West Coast–chic upstairs dining room to sample the local food and drink menu, featuring ingredients such as fresh-caught salmon, seaweed and foraged mushrooms. Up for a more casual experience? Pick up lunch or an afternoon snack at the Tacofino truck for tacos, burritos and to-die-for spicy chocolate diablo cookies.

Paddle the Pacific

A great majority of immigrants to Tofino cite surfing as their reason for moving here. Get a taste of what the fuss is about with a beginner-friendly (or tailored to your level) lesson through Surf Sister. Alternatively, get out on the water by kayak (try a tour with Paddle West Kayaking) or paddleboard (Tofino Paddle Surf will teach you the essentials) to experience coastal living at its finest.

Stay in style

You’ve come all this way to the farthest reaches of the country, so be sure to take a few deep breaths and soak it all in. Beach houses at the Pacific Sands Beach Resort are perfectly situated for the ultimate lazy day: just open the curtains in your top-floor bedroom (turn on the fireplace if you’re chilly) to enjoy perfect views of Long Beach from your bed—you’re on island time.