10 Helpful Travel Tips for Tofino First Timers

Are you planning a trip to Tofino and want to make sure to get it right?

Traveling to Tofino for the first time can be an exciting experience. There are few places in Canada that offer the rugged Pacific Coast landscapes like Tofino. Whether its a honeymoon, a family trip, a surfing trip, hiking, relaxing exploring or a combination, you are sure to enjoy this slice of paradise on Vancouver Island. To make the most of your trip and ensure a smooth visit, here are the top 10 tips for first-time visitors!

Tofino Travel Tips.

Tofino Travel Tips

Decide What You Want to See: The first step to making the most of your time in Tofino is having an idea about what you want to see and do before arriving. This will help avoid feeling overwhelmed or lost while exploring all of the things to do. Make a list of places you want to see or things you want to do. Maybe it’s a surf lesson and then a few days catching waves. Maybe it is eating your way through Tofino’s best places to eat. Maybe it is a quick visit on an extended Vancouver Island road trip and you just want to hit a few key highlights. Maybe you are planning a honeymoon and want to mix luxury, relaxation and some spa time after a busy wedding!

Decide How Many Days You Will Spend in Tofino: Tofino can be enjoyed in a day or in a week. Many who are coming to Tofino make it at least a long weekend type of trip. 

Where will you stay? Tofino offers luxurious escapes with hot tubs, beachfront access and more. There are also options for camping and vacation rentals. You are going to want to book in advance. You cannot just show up and find somewhere to stay in Tofino in the summer months.

LUXURY: Pacific Sands Beach Resort Pacific Sands is the epitome of luxury for a weekend getaway in BC. Featuring townhouse-style accommodations and jetted tubs with a view, few other properties can walk right out to Cox Bay beach! Depending on your accommodation type, you can have a full kitchen and multiple bedrooms. If storm-watching or walking the sandy beaches are your thing, choose Pacific Sands! It is perfect for families and getaways with friends!

LUXURY: Long Beach Lodge. Choose a cabin with a private hot tub for the perfect stay in Tofino. They also have a hot tub and surf rentals onsite meaning you can walk right from the hotel and catch some waves!

MIDRANGE: Duffin Cove Resort Duffin Cove is newly renovated and is right in Tofino. They have a few A frame cabins right on the water that you can book as well. The nice thing about staying here is that you can leave your car and walk into town. Parking can be busy in town in high season. 

MIDRANGE: Hotel Zed Tofino Hotel Zed is right off the highway and less than 500m from Chesterman Beach. It is 1.1 km from Mackenzie Beach. Your stay includes free parking and there is a restaurant on site. Hotel Zed is known for its eclectic-styled accommodations. You cannot miss it! Pets are welcome at Hotel Zed.

How to get here: Start with how to get here from one of these places! Travel from Vancouver to Tofino, Nanaimo to Tofino or Victoria or Tofino. There is no direct ferry to Tofino so depending on where you are coming from, plan accordingly with these posts.

What Time of Year Will You Visit: Summer is the busy season but increasingly Tofino is being enjoyed all year long. Winter brings storm watching and the shoulder season offers better hotel value (and availability – YES in the summer every hotel and Airbnb gets sold out)

Pack for Variable Weather: Tofino’s coastal weather can be unpredictable, so pack layers and be prepared for rain at any time of the year. A waterproof jacket and comfortable walking shoes are essential. Gumboots are appropriate footwear anywhere in Tofino! I highly recommend Vessi running shoes! They look cute and keep your feet dry while walking the beach, hiking trails, and dealing with the “wet-coast” weather. Check out this Tofino Packing List as well.

Public Transportation: Tofino does not have a public transportation system. Most people who arrive come with a vehicle. There is a bus to and from Tofino, and a local cab service. There is no Uber.

Explore Nearby: While Tofino gets all of the attention, nearby Ucluelet is also well worth a visit. It is much quieter than Tofino and a short drive to Pacific Rim National Park.

Foodie Paradise: Make sure you hit all of the best food spots in Tofino while you are in town. Use this list to get yourself started. Consider reservations well in advance.

Outdoor Activities: If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’re in for a treat. Tofino is meant to be enjoyed outdoors, in all types of weather! Ensure you have waterproof shoes and a raincoat and you are good for any west coast weather!

Consider a Photoshoot. Did you know you can book a local photographer on your weekend getaway? It is easy! This is one of the most memorable things you can do while in Tofino. Book a photoshoot for your family, your proposal, your engagement photos, or even with your pets!

If you believe that memories make the best souvenirs, then before your trip! If you use the code LINDSAY you will get $25 off your booking as well! Click here for photographer availaibilty in Tofino!

Currency and Payment: Are you coming from outside of Canada? The currency in Canada is the Canadian Dollar (CAD). Credit and debit cards are accepted almost everywhere in Tofino. Even most markets accept credit cards and other tap forms of payment like ApplePay. Some places do not take cash! If you try and pay with USD most cashiers will look at you sideways so get CAD cash if you like to use cash!

Tipping: Tipping is customary in Canada. In restaurants, it’s common to leave a tip of around 15-20% of the bill, depending on the service. Tipping for other services, like taxis and tour guides, is also common

English and French: While English and French are Canada’s official languages, you will find very few British Columbians who speak French. Keep that in mind when planning

Safety and Security: Tofino is generally a safe city for travelers, and property crime is very low. However, like anywhere, be cautious of your belongings and avoid leaving valuables in plain sight.

Time Zone: Vancouver Island is in the Pacific Time Zone (PST/PDT) which is the same as Seattle and Los Angeles. It is three hours behind Toronto (EST).

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