- Easy to moderate trails
- 5km or around a 2-hour hike
- Dog-friendly beaches and trail
Experience Tofino during storm watching season. Discover a newly constructed coastal trail that connects some of Tofino’s most popular beaches, via forest trails; similar to the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet. Stay in a ‘treehouse’ cabin on one of Tofino’s most beautiful beaches!
Tofino has some of the most beautiful, wild, and remote beaches in the world. The expansive, vast sandy beaches stretch for as far as the eye can see. On the western edge of Canada, Tofino has rugged terrain and is rich in wildlife. The Town of Tofino is situated next to the Pacific Rim National Park. With nothing but the immense Pacific Ocean between you and Japan, Tofino is a very special place.
Tofino is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island. You can access the island by taking a BC Ferry from Horseshoe Bay near Vancouver to Nanaimo, the crossing is around 2 hours. The drive west to Tofino is around 3 hours. Leave plenty of time, the drive is beautiful but also challenging with many twists, turns, narrow lanes and steep hills. Make sure you stop at Cathedral Provincial Park just before the City of Port Alberni, which is also a good place to stop for groceries and/or fuel.
We visited during storm watching the season, at the end of February. We stayed in a Rainforest Cabin at the Crystal Cove Beach Resort located on east end of MacKenzie Beach, a short drive from Tofino. These dog friendly log cabins are comfortable and cozy, with everything you need to feel at home. Upstairs there was a wooden walkway that leads to a couple of covered hot tubs. It’s beautifully designed leaving you feeling a bit like an Elf in Lord of the Rings.
The resort is well situated with Chesterman, one of Tofino’s most photographed beaches and one of the best places to watch the sunset, just around the corner. Chesterman is made up of two half-moon beaches connected by privately owned Frank Island, only accessible at low tide. We loved staying out on the beach long after the sunset, after everyone else had left. The colours and the light keep changing long after the sun has set. Shortly after twilight the beaches become dotted with tiny beach fires.
The morning after arriving in Tofino we took our dog Tusk for a walk along the McKenzie beach. We headed west towards the end of the beach, for what we thought would be a short walk. When the tide is out the beaches in Tofino feel enormous. On the far end of the beach we discovered another world, a small freshwater creek and an abundance of growth coming from the thick temperate rainforest. Always on the hunt for trails, we sought out a hidden path, the kind that sometimes lead to metaphoric ‘pots of gold’. And, low and behold, we found one!
A rough, still-in-construction trail led us up through the forest, over a hill and down onto the smaller, more intimate Middle Beach. This 1 km long private beach is home to two lodges. We were fortunate enough to have the whole place to ourselves! What a treat, there is something special about the feeling of being alone in these incredibly vast, rugged and beautiful locations. On the far west side of Middle Beach we were delighted to once again find a newly constructed trail leading us through the rainforest.
Tonquin Beach & Trail
We followed the path from Middle Beach onwards, the trail led us to coastal viewpoints, the perfect places to soak up the panoramic views. A boardwalk led us to a crow’s nest look-out, it was then that we realized that the new trail we had been following had connected with the Tofino’s Lighthouse Trail, which leads to Tonquin Beach. These easy trails are a wonderful way to explore the west coast’s rainforests and beaches.
There is a proposal to connect the Ucluelet Pacific Wild Trail to the Tofino trails via a 28 km path through the Pacific Rim National Park. The project is estimated to cost around $17.7 million and would offer spectacular world-class hiking and biking opportunities.
While you are visiting Tofino don’t miss all the amazing trails and beaches in Pacific Rim National Park.
Top 3 Tips
- Always carry water and some food. Tofino beaches are so captivating it’s easy for a 20 minute stroll to turn into a 3 hour hike.
- Watch the tides and always refer to a tide table before setting out. High tides can cause you to become stranded on some of the offshore islands and peninsulas.
- Have a healthy fear of the waves. Rogue waves are real, every year they sweep someone away. Always be cautious when walking on Tofino’s rocks and beaches.
Tofino was awesome! There was so much to see and so many new things to investigate. The drive there was a little long and twisty, but we stopped for some good walks along the way. I loved playing on the sandy beaches. All the new ocean smells were captivating. I loved picking up the seashells and holding them in the mouth as we walked along. The waves were fun to watch too. I loved the long walk we went on. I’m glad I could get a drink from the fresh water creeks in-between beaches.