Tofino, Vancouver Island: Where Rainforest Meets The Pacific Ocean

Known as the jewel of the west coast, Tofino is a small surfing town on Vancouver Island boasting a spectacular wild shoreline. The journey here involved an hour-and-a-half ferry ride from Vancouver to Nanaimo, followed by a four-hour ride on the Tofino Bus. 

The Tofino Bus was an experience in itself! Our bus driver was an energetic character who declared himself to the passengers as “Sir John, knight of the road and lord of the luggage bin.” As we passed Port Alberni and began heading west, we were warned about what to expect on the road ahead. 

“If somebody offers you some soup, say no,” said Sir John, as the bus stopped for people to grab some quick lunch, before the last leg of the journey. After here the ride gets a lot more rocky.”

He was not exaggerating. It was not long before the bus was gyrating side to side as it quickly shot around sharp bends. Rugged rainforest climbed steeply on both sides and was broken up every now and then by stunning views of Kennedy Lake – a vast expanse of shimmering water that is the largest lake on Vancouver Island.

“If you’re one of those nervous types and feel queasy, close your eyes, take a deep breath and imagine you’re on a nice boat bobbing up and down. That’s what I’m going to do,” jested Sir John.

The bus halted to a stop for half an hour unexpectedly as the road was temporarily closed up ahead for some kind of maintenance work.

“We’re on Tofino time now,” he added.

The sun was shining by the time we arrived in the afternoon and we made our way to the Schooner restaurant to sample some of the local seafood, accompanied by cocktails.

Later on, the view from our hostel, The Whaler’s Guesthouse, was breathtaking when the burning sunset coloured the clear sky and reflected on the calm water as everything else was blackened. I was glad to have captured this gorgeous scenery as the following evenings were clouded with mist and rain.

The next day, the weather was dreary as we set off on a whale watching tour with Ocean Outfitters. I will be writing a full article on this soon. But in summary for now, it was a fantastic trip that involved sightings of humpbacks, orcas and sea lions. Unfortunately it was much choppier than I had anticipated and I was terribly seasick. 

Everybody seemed to be enjoying it though as the sightings, that are not always 100 per cent guaranteed, were plentiful. Tofino is a great place for whale watching.

Later in the afternoon we took a short hike through the rainforest to Tonquin Beach. As we made our way through the trees, a moody scene awaited us as the beach finally appeared. It was simply stunning and practically empty, aside from a few people that quickly dispersed as the rain became heavier.

However, there was a man who happily continued with his solitary beach yoga session…

And of course, the area is brimming with surfers that are attracted here in droves to take advantage of the impressive waves that roll in at numerous points along the coast.


On our third and final day in Tofino, we took a hike along some of the popular surfing beaches – North Chesterman, South Chesterman and Cox Bay. Somebody had advised us to have a drink at the Long Beach Lodge in order to enjoy views over the surf at Cox Bay. So this is exactly what we did.

After our day of hiking, we had worked up an appetite and headed for Big Daddy’s Fish Fry – known as the best place to get fish and chips in Tofino. Mmmmm, delicious!

 Have you ever visited Tofino? How was your experience?







    • July 29, 2012 / 06:37

      It definitely is, I can imagine it’s even more beautiful in the sun.

  1. July 25, 2012 / 18:22

    Pretty cool. What is that drink? Is it some liquor warming device?

    • July 29, 2012 / 06:39

      It was a blueberry tea with some kind of brandy. To be honest, it was not my cup of tea! I ordered it expecting something different. It looks cool though doesn’t it?

  2. July 25, 2012 / 22:12

    Very nice post, Alison :) keep having fun!

    • July 29, 2012 / 06:40

      Cheers Fernando, I’ll do my best to keep having fun. That’s always my aim :-)

  3. Robert
    September 25, 2013 / 12:23

    We stayed a number of days in Middle Beach lodge. More than fantastic atmosphere. Super cabin and a more that great view. One of the best places I ever visited in my live. As soon as I have won the Jackpot I want to live there!