TOFINO, BRITISH COLUMBIA
On the remote west coast of Vancouver Island, within the traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations, sits the village of Tofino. Nestled in the heart of the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Tofino is a prime destination for year-round surfing, beach time, exploring the outdoors through a number of guided activities and seeking inspiration from the wild.
The village of Tofino is a laid back community with a population under 2000 people, located on the Esowista Peninsula on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The Tofino area has become one of British Columbia's top year-round vacation destinations for those who revel in unspoiled wilderness. Vancouver Island’s rugged West Coast is uniquely wild, beautiful and untouched. The Pacific Ocean crashes on rocky outcrops and washes over miles of sandy beaches. Magnificent groves of old growth Cedar and Sitka Spruce stand tall over quiet rainforest trails.
Tofino is known for a laid-back lifestyle, with casual attire acceptable at even the best restaurants. During stormy winter weather, we recommend raincoats and gumboots, and you will want to pack a toque and gloves. Tofino weather can be full of surprises. Layers that include quick-drying polar fleece and/or wool are a good idea year-round, even in summer for misty morning and evenings that can cool down quickly. Bring along sunglasses because the sun can shine brightly, even in storm season!
Tofino is in an area comprised of 400,000 hectacres of dramatic topography and marine inlets. The Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations have inhabited Clayoquot Sound for thousands of years. The population once reached upwards of 100,000 and their culture is still very much celebrated.
In early 1774 Captain Juan Perez was sent from Spain to lay claim on the west coast of America. He reached the Queen Charlotte Islands by July of that year. The captain then ventured as far south as Perez Rocks, forty kilometres north of Tofino, but never went ashore. Captain James Cook arrived at Nootka Island in 1778 and claimed the region for Britain and a heated war between Spain and Britain was barely averted. Captains Galiano and Valdez explored Vancouver Island in 1792 and named Tofino Inlet after a hydrographer who had once taught Galiano.
In the late 1890s homestead settlements appeared on the Esowista Peninsula, occupied mostly by Norwegians, Scots and the English. The first road into the community was built for logging purposes in 1959. At first these roads could only be accessed on the weekends when the loggers were off. By the late 1960s many camps had been established along Tofino’s Long Beach and surfers populated the area. In 1970 Pacific Rim National Park was established and the road was finally paved in 1972, making it the final western stop on the Trans-Canada Highway.
Today, Tofino is still defined by its surf culture, First Nations roots and remote beauty. It serves as a gateway for those exploring Clayoquot Sound, but also as a major seaside, resort destination. Visitors can pick their level of adventure, from coastal camping to rented beach homes to luxurious five star properties.
GETTING TO TOFINO
Whether driving or taking a bus, the road from Nanaimo is one of the most spectacular in the world. You will pass through the towering old-growth forests of Cathedral Grove, the township of Port Alberni , majestic Sutton Pass, and through Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
No matter what time of year you are travelling our way, keep up to date on road conditions, including events or delays that may affect your travel plans, by checking your route on DriveBC.
Vancouver Island – and Tofino – can be accessed by vehicle from the British Columbia mainland in three ways:
By driving your own or a rented vehicle
Custom shuttle with Pacific Rim Navigators
Aboard daily scheduled trips with Tofino Bus.
Vancouver to Tofino: (via Nanaimo) 2 hours on BC Ferries and 3 hours by car
Victoria to Tofino: 5 - 6 hours by car, or by Tofino Bus
Ucluelet to Tofino: 40 minutes by car
The BC Ministry of Transportation is conducting a significant upgrade to Highway 4 near Kennedy Lake, beginning in May 2018. Construction will continue around the clock for approximately 24 months, with 2-3 hour complete traffic closures:
September 16, 2018 - June 14, 2019
Closed 5:00 am - 7:00 am
Closed noon - 1:00 pm
Closed 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Closed 10:00 pm - 4:00 am - Except Friday nights the road will close at 12:00 am.
Travel delays of up to 30 minutes, due to single-single alternating traffic at the construction site, are expected each day.
No traffic stoppages are permitted during long weekend, including the day before or after but Single Lane Alternating Traffic will be in effect.
If driving from the British Columbia mainland, you’ll first need to sail with BC Ferries from one of three points near Vancouver to Vancouver Island:
Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay: The Horseshoe Bay terminal is north of Vancouver and this ferry route takes just under 2 hours, arriving at Nanaimo’s Departure Bay.
Tsawwassen to Duke Point: The Tsawwassen terminal is south of the city, closer to the USA border. This ferry route takes approximately 2.5 hours, arriving at the Duke Point terminal, about 15 minutes south of Nanaimo.
Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay: The Tsawwassen terminal is south of the city, closer to the USA border. This ferry route takes approximately 2 hours, arriving at the Swartz Bay terminal, about 30 minutes north of Victoria.
Click here for more information on BC Ferries
Please note that advance ferry reservations are highly recommended on all routes during weekends, holiday periods and summer months.
You can fly directly to Tofino (YAZ) from Vancouver (YVR).
Did you know:
That you can fly to these airports on Vancouver island’s east coast? Both Nanaimo (YCD)and Comox (YQQ) are approximately a 3-3.5 hour drive to Tofino and are both served by a few vehicle rental companies.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO TOFINO
Here are some links to help you plan your trip to Tofino!