The Surf–Lover’s Guide to Tofino


With year–round waves, 35 kilometres of surfable coastline, sand–bottom beaches and 11 surf schools, Tofino is a great place to take up surfing. We’ve rounded up the best places to stay, eat and ride (or watch) waves in Canada’s surf capital.

December 20, 2019

Where to stay in Tofino

The exterior view of the Pacific Sands Beach Resort
Pacific Sands Beach Resort   Photo: Pacific Sands Beach Resort
  • Pacific Sands Beach Resort  Whether you are in a three–floor Beach House or a cozy studio suite, each of the 122 units on this 41–acre waterfront property has a fireplace and full kitchen. Put the latter to use by picking up eggs, bacon and other essentials in the lobby shop – plus complimentary chives or dill at the herb garden outside – for breakfast before hitting the surf. Cox Bay is on your doorstep (making it the perfect home base during Queen of the Peak), and with an outpost of Surf Sister on–site, so are board rentals and lessons.

Wickaninnish Inn sits at the edge of the waterfront
Wickaninnish Inn   Photo: Michael Becker
  • Wickaninnish Inn  Tofino’s iconic family–owned and operated Relais & Châteaux property sits on a rocky outcrop that juts into the ocean on the north end of North Chesterman Beach – leave your balcony door open to hear the waves crashing through the night. Soothe sore muscles following a day catching waves (or attempting to) at the Ancient Cedars Spa with a visit to the Steam Cave, complete with whimsical star–shaped lights.

Where to eat in Tofino

Fried oysters in a skillet at restaurant Wolf in the Fog
Wolf in the Fog   Photo: Jordie Hennigar
  • Wolf in the Fog  This two–storey spot in downtown Tofino hasn’t skipped a beat in the five years since it was crowned Canada’s Best New Restaurant. The shoestring potato–wrapped oysters that we raved about then are as crisp and smoky today, but a feature sablefish dish with tart julienned apples and pillowy gnocchi shows that the kitchen is always riffing. Sit at the bar for a double–whammy view: bartenders shake up cocktails worthy of big–city menus in front of you and, to your right, chefs work hard in between cheers whenever a table orders the “Six pack for the kitchen.”

Coffee and breakfast scones at Tofitian
Tofitian   Photo: Christ Pouget
  • Tofitian  Don’t let the skull and crossbones on the sign out front fool you: this coffee shop is bright, welcoming and full of smiling Tofitians. Located in the same plaza as many other must–visit spots (like Chocolate Tofino, Wildside Grill and the famous Tacofino truck), locals come here to fuel up before suiting up. Everything in the pastry case is baked daily, from butter croissants to the breakfast scones, bursting with ingredients like eggs, brie, tomatoes and basil.

Where to surf in Tofino

Two students of the all female Surf Sister school head out on the water
Surf Sister   Photo: Bryanna Bradley
  • Surf Sister  There’s no shortage of surf schools in Tofino, but Surf Sister offers something a little different. As one of the largest all–female surf schools in the world, it’s a major reason why Tofino has become such a haven for women’s surfing. You will meet at the HQ in town to get fitted for a board and wetsuit, then head to a nearby beach, likely Cox Bay or North Chesterman. Your lesson will kick off with a comprehensive tutorial on land (sand drawings and diagrams, included), before hitting the waves, with tons of smiles, high–fives and cheers guaranteed, regardless if you stand up or not.