72 hours of eating, drinking and exploring Tofino

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Tofino is one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth. Located in the Pacific Rim National Park in Canada’s very western Clayquot Sound, the coastal beachfront, set against a rain forest and the mountains, it is the perfect setting for anyone in need of an escape from the hustle.

My love for Tofino isn’t unique, and it’s become exceedingly difficult to book during the summer without planning months or even a year in advance. Pre-covid, Tofino had become a place I dreamed of visiting, but kept on the back burner as I planned other trips.

But in these new times with borders (still) closed, and officials still urging us to stay close to home, Tofino presented itself as the ideal place for a staycation. After many months of not being able to leave our health region, the province is lifting restrictions as part of its BC Restart plan. In it’s 2nd step, travel within the province was opened and I looked for a getaway to explore this beautiful place I live. With good fortune, I was invited by HI Tofino to spend a few nights to get reacquainted to the small town, that’s struggled through these travel restrictions.

With little notice, I was happy my travelling buddies were in for the adventure. We hopped in the in the car for our first road trip of the year. We had only 3 nights away and a laundry list of things to do, so we pushed into my Tofino “musts” as soon as we arrived.

First up was a visit to Sobo for the key lime pie I dream about and compare all others to.

My priority in Tofino is to spend as much time at the beach as possible, so even though it was grey and misty, we made our way to Mackenzie beach for a walk.

Unfortunately the cloud cover was so thick we didn’t get a magical Tofino sunset, but I knew there was always tomorrow.

There aren’t many options for dinner past 9:00pm in Tofino, so we were lucky find a seat at The Hatch at Tofino Resort and Marina for some delicious small bites and sips to end our first night.

We woke up to rain, but we were prepared with rain gear and excitedly started out on our day’s adventure.

We made a quick stop at Tofitian coffee shop for some sustenance chosen from their amazing array of baked goods.

First up for the day was to walk the Rain Forest trail. It was cold and rainy but we had packed for the weather. And hey, it’s called a “rain forest” for a reason!

After a quick loop around the 2 sides of the trail our next stop was Chesterman Beach. We were lucky to arrive at this gorgeous location just as the clouds started lifting so we were able to witness the full beauty of one of the best beaches in the world (IMO). After so many months of wearing a mask all the time, it was nice to get outside and breathe the fresh air in.

Tofino Chesterman beach

After a full day of exploring the forest and beaches, our next stop was another one of Tofino’s must do’s.

Tofino Brewing has expanded into a larger space since my last visit and I loved that the high ceilings and airy space kept up with that “Tuff” City feel. The beers were delicious, as usual, and definitely worth waiting in line for.

After a good sampling at the brewery, we realized we still had a chill from being drenched to the bone earlier in the day. A bowl of steaming hot ramen from Kuma sounded like our best option for dinner.

The ramen at Kuma is “ok” by my standards (I have very high standards for ramen), but it did the job of warming us up and the matcha brownie for dessert was super delicious.

A clear night meant a chance for a sunset and we started asking around to see if there were unspoken gems to view a sunset. The easiest option was to head to the dock on the northern most edge of town. It wasn’t the most peaceful or spectacular sunset I’ve ever seen at Tofino, but I still reveled in the moment.

While I enjoy a good sunset, my favourite thing to do is wake up for sunrise. I love the peaceful feeling of being the only person in the quiet as I watch the colours of the world present themselves to start the day.

On the docket was a morning of whale watching but we needed some sustenance before hopping on the boat.

Rhino Coffee House seems to be the “it” place for coffee and a donut in town (with a constant morning line-up to prove it). I chose the Bro-nut, a breakfast sandwich with bacon, egg and veggies on a savoury donut.

I don’t love taking tours, but after so many months of being cooped up at-home I wanted to feel the ocean surround me, and knew whale watching was a great way to do it. I chose The Tofino Whale Centre from the many options in town because I’d been on a fantastic Bear Watching tour with them many years ago.

The tour was incredible and we were up and close with a number of grey whales. Our guide Mark (who takes incredible photography @mark_sawyer) was knowledgable and his passion for the great wildlife we were seeing on the adventure was infectious.

We were famished after our exciting ocean adventure so we walked to Bravocados for a yummy (vegan) lunch and to Tofino Licks for a sweet kick to top off the afternoon. While the fudge brownie with caramel sauce ice cream was more photo-worthy, the Sobo Key Lime Pie ice cream was the winner for me. Can you tell how obsessed I am with Sobo’s Key Lime Pie?

One last try at an epic Tofino sunset, and the weather looked like it was cooperating. We chose to return to Mackenzie Beach because fires are allowable and that seemed like a perfect way to cap our evenings in Tofino. On our way out, we stopped at Wildside Grill for an easy dinner of fish & chips, gumbo and chowder.To finish we grabbed a yummy pistachio gelato from Chocolate Tofino. Indulging in 2 ice creams a day is a sure sign of being on vacation!

We arrived at Mackenzie Beach with our fire supplies and my friends started working to try to build a fire. I got bored of their efforts and turned my attention to the incredible sunset happening in front of us.

We weren’t able to start our fire, but were lucky enough that a group was leaving and offered us up their fire pit. A toasted marshmallow eaten in front of a sky changing beautiful colours is an epic treat and a picture perfect way to end the evening.

I woke up to another incredible sunrise and wandered around to see the sky brightening for the day.

The short hike to Tonquin Beach is an enjoyable easy Tofino hike which is best visited at low tide. I love walking through the forest to be rewarded with the small quiet beach at the end.

We had some time to kill before our last meal, so we went out to Cox Bay Beach to check the surfers in action.

I couldn’t leave Tofino without visiting the Wolf and the Fog. Their menu is inspired by the incredible nature that surrounds it and the flavours speak to this clearly. A great start is always one of their well-crafted cocktails followed by their potato crusted oysters. The most memorable dish of the meal was the Bamfield seaweed salad made with BC kelp, daikon and puffed rice. This put your grocery store electric green seaweed salad to shame. It was the perfect meal to end a great 3 days in Tofino. Can’t wait to return!

Thanks to HI Tofino Whalers on the Point for the great stay and for providing me with the opportunity to explore beautiful Tofino. I appreciated all the safety measures put into place to provide peace of mind but while also being thoughtful through these measures to keep up with the community feel of Whalers that everyone loves.

Places I visited this trip to TOFINO

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