Image: Sander Jain (Long Beach), Jeremy Koreski (Tofino Resort + Marina), Andre Chabot (Pacific Surf Co.), Kyler Vos (1909 Kitchen), Pilot House Media (Rhino Coffee House)
How to spend three days in Tofino, British Columbia.
You’re here! Breathe in that spicy-sweet air, take in the sylvan surroundings and feel your tension subside. Check into Tofino Resort + Marina (5), the central hot spot newly opened by former Vancouver Canucks Willie Mitchell and Dan Hamhuis. A five-minute walk from town – with an on-site Adventure Centre hosting the area’s top experiences, as well as locally loved restaurants – this is the perfect place for active sorts who want to maximize every Tofitian moment. Settle in and call TOF Cycles Co. to have a pair of fresh-hued wheels delivered. With its wide bike path and lone local taxi driver (no joke), this tiny town – population 1,932 – is best navigated by two-wheeled cruiser. Hungry? Bike a mere three kilometres to Tacofino (4), the original food truck location of the über-popular B.C. restaurant chain, and then indulge in gelato from Chocolate Tofino for dessert. Head to one of the nearby beaches to take in the action – with all the SUPers (stand-up paddleboarders), kayakers, joggers and dog walkers, it’s a beautiful bustle. Return to the resort for dinner at 1909 Kitchen (8), where chef Paul Moran (a protege of award-winning chef David Hawksworth) whips up delectable shareables with a focus on fresh local fare. Insider tip: If you go fishing, you can bring the day’s catch to the chef, who’ll transform it into a delicious dish for you.
Get an early start to the day and walk 10 minutes west along the main drag, Campbell Street, to Rhino Coffee House (9). Fuel up with one of the best breakfast wraps ever – better yet, convince a travel companion to split one so you have room for a fresh doughnut, too. Head back to home base and embark on a hot springs boat excursion. Pack your bather, wear layers and keep your camera handy for whale sightings. An hour and a half later, you’ll dock at the remote Maquinna Marine Provincial Park and Protected Area, which can otherwise only be accessed by a 20-minute seaplane ride. Stroll the boardwalk one-and-a-half kilometres through the old-growth rainforest to Hot Springs Cove, seven steamy geothermal pools with views of the Pacific Ocean. Soak in this natural spa, and then head back to your boat and relax while you enjoy a light lunch en route back to the resort. Grab your bike and take a leisurely ride to the charming Picnic Charcuterie. Call in advance, and they’ll prep a basket packed with cheeses, cured meats, pickles and bread for you to nosh on alongside a flight of local beer at Tofino Brewing Co. (1), just a few doors down. Get adventurous and try the Kelp Stout or Spruce Tree Ale. Work off the indulgence with a short ride to Tofino Botanical Gardens for a self-guided lesson in local flora (say hi to the resident pup, Fanny, and the ridiculous-looking flock of runner ducks for me!). Bike back to the resort and get gussies up for dinner at Wolf in the Fog (3), lauded as one of Canada's best restaurants. Antiques enthusiasts will enjoy the beautiful mixed-and-matched vintage dishware, but everyone will love the locally harvested seasonal ingredients and elegant plating in a lively casual atmosphere. Bonus: A side of foie gras can be added to any- thing on the menu for $15!
Watch the Tofino harbour come alive at the hotel’s Hatch Waterfront Pub over a healthy or indulgent brekkie (both are delicious). Book a morning adventure – kayaking, SUPing and fishing are all on offer, but this editor recommends surfing. The sprawling shallow Cox Bay Beach is perfect for beginners and, speaking from experience, the instructors at Pacific Surf Company (2, 7) can make even the most unathletic person feel adept. Next, head into town to hit the shops, all within walking distance of where you’re staying. Look for the turquoise wood-clad store of Christy Feaver Modern Metalwork and Blue Shop (4) for unique gifts from local artisans. Across the road at The Factory Tofino, you can watch leather bags and jewellery being handcrafted in the art gallery-like storefront, which also sells prints by one of Tofino’s most celebrated photographers, Kyler Vos. Piña sells clothing and prints with quirky illustrations, all made in the neighbouring town of Ucluelet, and Merge is the sweetest artist collective. Don’t leave without devouring some fish ’n’ chips or seafood chowder on the outdoor picnic tables at Big Daddy’s Fish Fry for a tasty farewell to this hip and stylish seaside surf haven.