The Getaway
15 Things to Do in Tofino and Ucluelet

Nestled on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Tofino and Ucluelet are two of the most picturesque destinations in British Columbia. These neighboring towns offer a perfect blend of serene beaches, lush rainforests, and a vibrant local culture that beckons travelers seeking adventure and relaxation. With their reputation as premier destinations for nature lovers and those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, Tofino and Ucluelet promise an unforgettable experience with their unique offerings. The area's rich biodiversity and commitment to conservation make it an ideal spot for eco-tourists and outdoor enthusiasts alike.


01 Explore Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

The beautiful scenery of a Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in Bamfield, Canada

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, where rugged coastlines meet temperate rainforests. Hike the scenic trails, witness the power of the ocean at the many beaches, and learn about the rich cultural heritage of the indigenous Nuu-chah-nulth people at the Kwisitis Visitor Centre. The park is a haven for wildlife, offering chances to spot bald eagles, sea otters, and other coastal species. Visitors can also participate in interpretive walks and talks led by knowledgeable park staff to deepen their understanding of this unique ecosystem.


02 Witness the majesty of whale watching

Orca spotted while whale watching in Tofino, Vancouver Island, mountains in the background

Embark on a thrilling whale-watching tour to see majestic gray whales, humpbacks, and orcas in their natural habitat. The waters around Tofino and Ucluelet are prime spots for viewing these gentle giants, providing awe-inspiring experiences that connect you with the wonders of marine life. From March to October is the best time for whale watching, with many tour operators providing educational commentary on the marine environment and its inhabitants. This aquatic activity both entertains and raises awareness about the importance of ocean conservation.


03 Surf the waves of Long Beach

Surfers running out to catch some waves during sunset on Long Beach Chase Clausen / Shutterstock

Catch a wave at Long Beach, a surfer's paradise that boasts consistent swells and expansive sandy shores. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a beginner, the local surf schools offer lessons and gear rentals so everyone can enjoy the exhilarating sport of surfing. Part of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, this beach is known for its stunning sunsets and clean, unspoiled environment, making it a great escape from those used to the faster-paced lifestyle in the city. Surfing here allows you to connect with the raw power of nature and the laid-back culture of the West Coast.


04 Indulge in local culinary delights

Savor the flavors of Canada's West Coast by indulging in the local culinary scene. From fresh seafood to artisanal eateries, Tofino and Ucluelet boast a variety of dining options that showcase the region's bounty and the creativity of its chefs. For a great tasting menu, try The Pointe restaurant at the Wickinnish Inn for a great tasting menu, or grab some fish and chips at Wildside Grill. Many area restaurants focus on sustainable practices, sourcing ingredients locally and seasonally for a true taste of the area. If you want to dive deeper into the gastronomic culture of these coastal towns, look for food tours and culinary events.


05 Take a scenic flight for aerial views

Rocky shore on the West Pacific Coast in Tofino, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Experience the breathtaking landscape of Tofino and Ucluelet from above with a scenic flight. Soar over the dramatic coastline, lush rainforests, and pristine beauty of Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds, capturing memories and photographs that last a lifetime. These flights deliver a unique perspective on the region's topography and help you appreciate the vastness and diversity of the scenery. Some operators even land near remote lakes or on mountaintops for an extra touch of adventure, including opportunities for fishing when you want to catch your own snapper, halibut, or salmon. If you'd rather reach a great fishing spot by boat, Obee Fishing has charters ready to help you out.


06 Relax at Hot Springs Cove

Unwind in the naturally heated water at Hot Springs Cove — geothermal hot springs accessible by boat or seaplane. The journey through the remote wilderness adds to the enchantment, culminating in a soak in the soothing, mineral-rich waters surrounded by the tranquility of nature. Situated in Maquinna Marine Provincial Park, a protected area that preserves the natural environment, Hot Springs Cove often attracts visitors combining their trip with wildlife viewing for a more majestic experience.


07 Stroll along the Wild Pacific Trail

Rainforest Trail Ucluelet on Vancouver Island, Canada

Take a leisurely walk on the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet, where stunning ocean vistas and ancient cedar forests await. The trail offers various loops and lookout points, each providing a unique perspective of the rugged beauty of the West Coast. Along the way, interpretive signs provide information about the local flora and fauna plus the historical significance of the area. The well-maintained trail is suitable for all ages, making hiking here a family-friendly activity.


08 Visit the Ucluelet Aquarium

Explore the fascinating marine life of the region at the Ucluelet Aquarium, and enjoy an educational, interactive experience ideal for all ages. This catch-and-release facility that gives visitors an up-close look at local sea creatures. The aquarium's philosophy of sustainability and education is evident in its exhibits and programs, which aim to foster a deeper appreciation for the marine environment and its inhabitants.


09 Go kayaking or paddleboarding

Sea kayaking on a brilliant, sunny day on the Clayoquot Sound near Tofino, BC

Paddle through the calm waters of the inlets and harbors in a kayak or on a stand-up paddleboard. This peaceful activity lets you connect with nature, observe wildlife, and explore the coastline at your own pace. The sheltered waters of the area make it ideal for paddlers of all skill levels, and guided tours are available if you're looking for local insights and hidden gems.


10 Experience First Nations Culture

Learn about the rich history and culture of the First Nations at cultural centers and galleries. Admire the artistry of traditional carvings, woven items, and paintings, and gain insight into the spiritual and historical significance of these works. The Nuu-chah-nulth people have lived in harmony with the land for thousands of years, and their cultural practices and stories are an integral part of the region's identity.


11 Enjoy beachcombing and tide pooling

Father and son walking in the surf at Chesterman Beach in Tofino, British Columbia

Discover the treasures of the tide pools and the vast beaches that stretch along the coast. Beachcombing can yield fascinating finds, from colorful shells to unique driftwood, while tide pools enable glimpses into the diverse ecosystem of the intertidal zone. Check out Chesterman Beach after storms, when tides sometimes dredge up interesting things, and find beautiful seashells along the expansive tidal flats during low tide at Cox Bay Beach.


12 Take a bear-watching tour

Wild Black Bear (Ursus americanus) and cub on a rocky beach. Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

Join a bear-watching tour to observe black bears in their natural environment. As you quietly cruise along the shoreline, keep an eye out for these magnificent creatures foraging for food, and enjoy a unique, respectful wildlife viewing opportunity. Tours conducted in small groups help minimize the impact on the bears and their habitat, and guides share valuable information about bear behavior and conservation efforts along the way.


13 Attend a local festival or event

Immerse yourself in the community spirit by attending one of the many festivals and events held throughout the year in and around Tofino and Ucluelet . From music and art to food and cultural celebrations, these gatherings make a great way to experience the local vibe. Some events that happen in the area each year include the Tofino Shorebird Festival that celebrates their annual migration with birdwatching events and Queen of the Peak, an all-female surfing competition.


14 Shop for local art and handicrafts

Support local artisans by shopping for unique art and handicrafts. Tofino and Ucluelet are home to numerous galleries and boutiques where you can find one-of-a-kind pieces, from handcrafted jewelry at the Tofino Market to indigenous art at the House of Himwitsa, that make perfect souvenirs for yourself or gifts for friends and family. These items serve as mementos of your trip and also help sustain the local economy, promoting the continuation of traditional crafts.


15 Relax at a beachfront resort or cozy cabin

Beautiful cabin in the woods during sunrise in the middle of nowhere

End your day by retreating to a beachfront resort and watching the sunset over the coastline, or head to a cozy cabin nestled in the forest. Accommodations range from luxurious resorts such as the Tofino Resort + Marina and kitschy options such as '70s-themed Hotel Zed right off Chesterman Beach to budget-friendly spots like the Tofino Hostel. This variety of alternatives ensures you find the perfect place to relax and reflect on the day's adventures as you listen to the soothing sounds of the Pacific Ocean. Many of these accommodations boast amenities such as spas, fine dining, and easy access to outdoor activities, ensuring a comfortable and memorable stay in the heart of nature.


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