Day trips to Victoria from Vancouver were fun but never seemed satisfying. I had a desire to explore more around Victoria and Vancouver Island.
Tofino was a popular destination on the island, a good 6 hours by bus from Victoria. The route takes you through Nanaimo. The town doesn't smell like the famous chocolate bars, but you can catch the BC Ferry there.
The trip from Nanaimo to Tofino is filled with incredible scenery. Rainforest with lakes surrounded by trees. Driving is the smarter strategy but you have to work to keep your eyes on the road. The bus ride allows you to watch without worrying about a crash.
The car is a smart option to have in Tofino, though the summer shuttle can fill your needs depending on your agenda. I found that the shuttle was what I needed.
The main area of Tofino is about 3 blocks by 5-6 blocks. The only stoplight was blinking red constantly in all directions; in other words, a stop sign. The town is very pedestrian-friendly even in summer.
The sign says Pacific Terminus for the Trans-Canada Highway. The sign is more of a theory; as we've learned from Jeopardy, the actual Pacific Terminus for the Trans-Canada Highway is in Victoria, the British Columbia capital.
The 2 primary surfing beaches required a shuttle or a car. The more remote beach could be accessed with a small walk from "downtown."
I found the walks on the local beach to be loud in its silence. The few people you run into have their own agenda and will leave you alone. The clouds, fog, and rain added to an already eerie experience though the area had nicer weather just before my arrival.
The city has a few cafes, convenient for what I called "coffee shop Tuesday" where the city experienced 24 hours straight of very heavy rain. One of the cafes had beer donuts. This is a rainforest after all. The best dining might be found behind Beaches Grocery near Chesterman Beach, where Tacofino is set up in the back. I had Tacofino in Vancouver a few years ago and enjoyed that food truck. Fish tacos, burritos, and a lot more are available. If there is rain, your eating options are limited but there is seating during dry conditions.
The shuttle can handle a limited number of surfboards. You don't have to be a surfer to enjoy Tofino, but the town is geared toward the sport. You can rent wetsuits, surfboards, and anything else you need. You can even get basic lessons on what to do on the surfboard. And you do need those wetsuits since the ocean gets really cold.
Storm watching is the favourite winter-type sport. The waves in particular are reportedly worth the trip.
The guide books generally say to spend at least 3 days in Tofino. That is a good amount. If your heart beats at a city pace, 3 days will drive you nuts. If you are a relaxed person, 3 lifetimes isn't enough.
Tofino is a really nice escape. Secluded and you get into the surfing, fish taco scene quickly. And you can say you saw more of Vancouver Island other than Victoria.
photos credit: me