Travel Diaries

Tofino Keeps its Cool

by Joy Pecknold

On British Columbia’s Pacific Coast, sits the small surf town of Tofino, and it’s one cool place to visit. True, it rarely gets any balmier than 67°F, but those who don’t mind milder temperatures are rewarded with beach fires and vibrant sunsets, among other heart-warming experiences. Here’s the highlight reel from my recent weekend getaway.

Getting there

This summer, Harbour Air launched seasonal harbor to harbor floatplane service between Downtown Vancouver and Tofino, making the trip there much shorter (one hour versus six it takes to drive and ferry). While I often enjoy taking the long, winding road to get there, flying is a treat because on a clear day it also gives you a kind of scenic aerial tour of the Vancouver Island.

Tofino Tofino van

Eating well

For dinner on the first night, my travel companions and I take in one of the most celebrated restaurants in town, Wolf in the Fog. Sourcing plenty of local fare for their dishes, including halibut and octopus right off the nearby docks, it’s a great place to get a taste of creative West Coast cuisine. They also boast the best cocktails in town. Although I’m not usually a dessert person, their deconstructed lemon meringue pie was delectable and less awkward to share than its typical triangular incarnation.

Wolf in the Fog Tofino Chocolate Tofino

The next morning, we cycle along the designated bike path back into town and stop at the Tofitian for a proper coffee and tasty baked goods, followed by a chocolate tasting at Chocolate Tofino directly next door.

Tofino Brewing

We pedal a further 10 minutes to Industrial Way, an area just outside downtown where cool spots keep popping up. Tofino Brewing opened back in 2011, but recently moved and expanded their operation next door because business is booming. At Picnic Charcuterie across the street, we grab a meat and cheese board and bring it to brewery to enjoy with our beer tasting. Picnic even uses some the beer in their products, as well as bread from the newly opened Summit Bread Company just up the street. Also joining the block party this year is Tofino Distillery which offers up its own brand of vodka and gin. If you only managed to visit this little corner of town, you’d still leave satiated.

Finding keepsakes

Hopping back on our bikes, we head into the heart of town and stop at the The Factory, a new shop shared by three local artists: Lisa Fletcher jewellery, Kyler Vos photography and Julie Boocock of Market Canvas Leather. This is the place to nab a wicked souvenir, but I’d suggest saving some spending money for Caravan Beach Shop or Merge too—they both carry a hip collection of Pacific Northwest-inspired wares.

Merge Tofino

Going wild

Arguably, the most alluring thing about this place though is all the natural, unspoilt beauty, and there’s innumerable ways to relish it. On this occasion, we opt to head out on a boat with Blake Klopfenstein of Cleanline Sportsfishing to do a quick bit of crabbing, but we make plans to come back for a full-day fishing adventure.

Tofino sunset

I also do what I always do when I come here and that’s go for a surf. For those who’ve never done it before, summertime is a great time to learn here because the waves are typically smaller and the water is typically a tad warmer. You’ll still need a decent wetsuit to keep you cozy, but Surf Sister can set you up with all the required gear as well as lessons. The right way to cap off a surf day or any day for that matter is with a beach fire at sunset—if you hadn’t already fallen in love with this place, this will seal the deal.