If you’ve been watching my Instagram account, you’ll know I recently had the wonderful opportunity to explore Tofino, British Columbia in celebration of my 30th birthday this year. I’ve had so many awesome comments and questions about my time there that I knew I had to do a special edition post on the town of Tofino. And now those of you who many be planning some upcoming travels could consider this magical destination.
Tofino is a small town on a peninsula on the west coast of Vancouver Island that has been getting a lot of attention lately as Canada’s top surf destination (that’s right you can surf right here in Canada!) and upcoming foodie hot spot. With a population of approximately 1,900 people, the town swells immensely during a couple months due to summer residents and tourism guests from all over the world. The top months for travel are June-September, but winter gets a boast due to coastal storm watchers too.
For this special edition I want to break down my recommendations by schedule instead of by activity, as most of you who will be considering going would do so for a few of days, and I felt we schedule things just right. Here’s what our trip looked like:
Unpack and unwind
Our early morning flight from Toronto to Vancouver was a memorable one as we upgraded our seats using our points and for the first time flew Business Class, enjoying all the amenities (like sparking wine at 8am and hot towel service before our deluxe breakfast). We landed in Vancouver and shortly after, took a small plane of 16 people right into the Tofino airport. I’m a nervous flyer and this 32 minute flight had me on edge, so I tried to enjoy the spectacular Vancouver Island aerial views.
Landing at the Tofino airport in the late morning (time change is great… sometimes), we shuttled to our accommodations – the beautiful, rustic and elegant Relais and Chateaux property of the Wickaninnish Inn. We enjoyed a casual lunch at the café over looking the ocean while waiting for our room to be ready. Following that we explored the facilities and soaked in the west coast fresh air and ocean views. Unpacking and enjoying a light diner at the On the Rocks Bar that night allowed for an early turn in after a long day of travels and jet lag.
The next day we hit up the free Tofino shuttle to get us to town (about 15 min drive) and explored the unique shops and fabulous views, even in the pouring rain. We started with breakfast at Rhino Coffee House and after enjoying a cup of hot coffee and mouth-watering donuts, we came to understand why the line was out the door – YUM! This surfer vibe destination was doing everything right! Next we cruised into some nearby galleries; Mark Hobson – known for his spectacular wildlife and landscape paintings, Rubio Jewelry Studio and Roy Henry Vickers Gallery – displaying exceptional First Nation’s masterpieces displayed in a traditional Northwest Coast Longhouse.
We toured a bunch of cute, bright-coloured, surf-inspired boutique stores including; Pina Styles – local art and clothing, Caravan Beach Shop, Merge – curated and handmade goods, Blue – hand crafted arts and more.
For lunch we wandered down to Shelter Restaurant where we literally took shelter from the rain and still got to enjoy the Island views from the covered and heated patio. I ordered the Tofino Surf Bowl here with Salmon and really enjoyed how fresh and flavourful the dish was. After lunch, we grabbed a coffee and cookie up the road at Tofino Coffee Roasting Company and made our way back on the shuttle to the Inn for a nap and to freshen up.
Dinner that night was at Wolf in the Fog, rated 85h in Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants 2018. The Wolf in the Fog has a menu inspired by the local oceans, forest and shoreline and the warm and rustic interior décor perfectly accented the menu offerings. My husband and I each enjoyed one of the features that night, and my husband’s exact words were, “that was the best pizza I’ve ever eaten!” I couldn’t have agreed more. The total ambiance of this place was spot on, including amazing drift wood light features (duh of course I would notice these), 2-story bar and West coast décor. A must hit stop in my books.
Surf & Dine
This was the big highlight for me (although the food and beachfront were both close seconds). After much research, we booked our group surf lessons with Pacific Surf Company and were very pleased with our experience and instructor – Annie. After we weezled our way into some full body wetsuits (this was the Pacific Ocean by the way), I was beyond excited to get to the beach. Our instructor spent time with us on land going over safety and background information about the waves, and after some quick positions and instructions, we entered the ocean to learn how to really do it. I got up on my first attempt and several other times throughout our lesson. Although I didn’t “master” the surfing technique, my husband sure impressed me by catching many waves for some good length runs.
After waddling back to our accommodations, achy and chilled to the bone, I filled a hot bath while some hot mac and cheese was ordered for me and the red wine was poured. About an hour later, I think I finally thawed out.
For dinner we really splurged at The Pointe Restaurant for my official birthday dinner. Although we both aren’t big on seafood, our selections incorporated some fresh, local and expertly prepared ocean offerings, such as our appetizers – Dressed Heirloom Tomato (with trout roe, which I mistakenly advised him it was a sauce not fish eggs :S), and the Dungeness Crab Salad. For our mains we had ‘Rossdown Farm’ Chicken Mole and the Beef Tenderloin (with beef fat roasted carrots, pomm anna, carmalized onion puree and garlic scape chimicurri). Again, my husband and I both caught ourselves saying, “this is the best thing I have ever eaten” as he started and I quickly stole his amazing entre (sorry hunny!). The sommelier personally advised and suggested some excellent French wine choices for our meals, and the setting sun was the perfect view for our night! A nice personal touch was that they added my name at the top of the menu with a birthday wish, in which they sent back with us at the end of the meal to remember the evening by.
Spa, brewery & harbour
I had a feeling we’d be rather achy after our day in the ocean so I strategically booked spa services for the next morning. We unwound and let our muscles be massaged and our souls soothed in the Ancient Cedar Spas located right at the Wickaninnish Inn.
We than enjoyed the use of the facility bikes as we made our way to the village marketplace to hit up the ever-popular original Tacofino and browse the other eateries. Even at 2pm, the lineup at the Tacofino food truck was insane as they quickly were slinging out orders. I ordered the crispy chicken burrito and my husband the pork burrito. I saw a couple crispy gringas after and those looked amazing too!
After that and a short nap (yes vacations are most definitely for naps), we shuttled to Tofino Brewing Co to taste some local brewed Tofino beer and BC cider. We than made our way to the beautiful harbour front and the Hatch Waterfront Pub at the Tofino Resort & Marina for a beautiful patio dinner for our final night. The smell and sounds of the ocean were perfection and really made the thought of leaving the next day daunting. We ordered some pizzas and ciders and ended the meal with the best berry crumble I’ve ever had. We casually enjoyed a stroll down at the docks post dinner before the sunset, which we enjoyed one last time on the North Chesterman Beach back at the resort.
Soak it in and depart
Our last day in beautiful Tofino was spent casually enjoying the views and beachfront, dreaming of never having to leave. A shuttle back to the airport after lunch brought us to a slightly bigger plane (32 passengers) for a smooth ride back to Vancouver. Here we booked a night (and was delightfully upgraded to the Gold Level) at the Vancouver Airport Fairmount Hotel. Enjoying some hot canapés in the lounge and watching the planes takeoff and land, was just a reminder of how quick times pass, but experiences and great memories remain.
I will forever hold a place in my heart for Tofino – where my dreams came true and my mind was awakened to how beautiful and vast our country really is. I highly recommend Tofino to anyone looking to travel to somewhere with beautiful nature views, amazing adventure opportunities and of course, spectacular food. I hope to be back one day!