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Surfing in Tofino: 8 Interesting Things to Know

Referred to as Canada’s surf capital, the stunning beaches of Tofino are home to a few of the best destinations for surfing in Tofino.

Surfers travel from all over the world to surf on these legendary beaches all year long because of the enormous sandy beaches and endless flawless waves.

Everyone will find something to enjoy at this west coast surfer’s paradise, which features waves up to 30 feet high and soft rollers.

Some beaches have manageable, tiny waves that are great for learning, while others have larger, more difficult surges but no matter what, you won’t be disappointed with these great surfing beaches!

1. Surfing in Tofino

Want to get away from Vancouver’s bustle? Use this surfing in Tofino guide to explore British Columbia’s natural beauty.

If you’ve never heard of Tofino, British Columbia, it is a small surf village on the west coast of Vancouver.

You will reach this peaceful little town after a beautiful ferry trip (on BC Ferries, from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo) and a breathtaking 3-hour drive through the mountains; but don’t be misled; there is enough to see and do, all of which we’ve covered within this Tofino travel guide!

2. Why Visit Tofino?

While nature enthusiasts will appreciate all the wildlife, rainforest, & undeveloped coasts, adventure seekers will be delighted by the limitless activity opportunities.

Even urbanites will be wowed by some of Canada’s best dining establishments, unique surf shops and soothing spas. Every kind of traveler may find something unique in Tofino, British Columbia, all year long.

Due to its numerous beaches, notably, Cox Bay & Chesterman Beach, Tofino is also referred to as Canada’s surf capital for enjoying surfing in Tofino.

Surfing in Tofino
Image by Robert Nathan Garlington from Pixabay

Tofino is situated along a peninsula in Clayoquot Sound, near the conclusion of the Pacific Rim Highway, and is reachable by ferry or airplane.

3. Outdoor Activities

Tofino features a year-round resident population with companies that offer food & drink, wellness, shopping, and a wide range of outdoor activities, while tourists come to stay and play for a while.

Some businesses provide guided excursions to see black bears or whales. A visit to Hot Springs Cove, a collection of natural thermal pools at Maquinna Marine Provincial Park, is another tour-led excursion.

4. Top Spots for Surfing in Tofino

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Here are a few of the best beaches for surfing in Tofino, and these beaches are worthwhile to visit regardless of your surfing skill level.

4.1. Cox Bay Beach – Best Beach for Surfing in Tofino

The stunning Cox Bay is frequently cited as one of the top surf beaches in Tofino as well as Canada, because of its amazing beach breaks.

World-class surfing & 1.5 km (0.93 miles) of gorgeous sand are featured at this amazing beach. You can enjoy surfing in Tofino there.

The waves at Cox Bay Beach are consistently good because of its crescent shape & western exposure. Compared to other Tofino-area surf areas, swells are also larger.

Moreover, wipeouts can be easily forgiven on the flat, sandy beach and come in the best beaches for surfing in Tofino.

Cox Bay is ideal for surfers of all skill levels since it offers a wide variety of waves. Beginners have fun in the summertime whitewater while experienced surfers take on the more difficult waves.

Very high waves can be seen here in the winter, drawing expert surfers across the globe to ride the towering swells. The majority of Tofino’s surf events, such as the Rip Curl Pro Nationals & Queen of the Peak, are therefore held at Cox Bay.

Be alert for rip currents around Cox Point and Sunset Point, as well as the bay’s center when surfing at Cox Bay. You’ll be swept away swiftly by these powerful currents towards the ocean.

In addition, it’s a terrific place for walking and sunbathing. Cox’s Bay Beach is a fantastic location for beachcombing and tidal pooling during low tide.

Go to Cox’s Bay Lookout for a spectacular view of the beach, and the hour-long trail is well worth it, though!

4.1.1 Accommodations Near Cox’s Bay Beach

At Cox Bay, the Long Beach Lodge Resort & Cox Bay Beach Resort are both close to the water.

These are two of the top hotels in Tofino to stay at if you want to be near the action & spend your vacation surfing.

Comes in the best beaches for surfing in Tofino, and together with providing lessons and equipment rentals, these seaside luxury resorts have everything you could need for an ideal Tofino surfing vacation.

4.2. Chesterman Beach

Image by James Wheeler from Pixabay

Chesterman Beach is one of the surf spots that is most accessible from the community of Tofino. It’s a well-liked location for surf schools & for surfers who don’t want to drive far from town.

This unusual beach is shaped like a “W,” with a tombolo in the center separating the north and south sides and leading to privately owned Frank Island. North Chesterman Beach & South Chesterman Beach are the names given to the two sides. You can enjoy surfing in Tofino there.

These beaches are world-class surfing locations with distinct wave characteristics because of their prevailing winds. Whereas South Chesterman looks south & catches swells from this way, North Chesterman faces west and catches swells from this direction.

Comes in the best beaches for surfing in Tofino, Chesterman Beach is a well-liked surfing location, particularly for novices, and there is no better place than South Chesterman Beach to learn how to surf!

The waves are quite good for beginning and intermediate surfers because the beach breaks are smaller here compared to other Tofino beaches. Despite so, skilled surfers can still locate the ideal waves under the appropriate circumstances.

No rocks are hiding under the sea on the sandy beach. Nonetheless, keep an eye out for novice surfers & runaway boards.

The beach is home to numerous surf schools that offer lessons. We highly recommend taking a lesson with one of the Tofino surf schools that offers instruction on this beach if you are new to the sport of surfing.

Even if you don’t want to surf, Chesterman Beach is still a lovely area to unwind and enjoy the landscape.

At low tide, go to South Chesterman Beach’s neighboring Rosie Bay Beach to explore sea caves and search for aquatic life in tidal pools.

4.2.1 Accommodations Near Chesterman Beach

The Wickaninnish Inn is among the nicest hotels close to Chesterman Beach.

This opulent hotel is perched on the rocky shoreline next to Chesterman Beach and provides some of the finest access to the beach in addition to breathtaking ocean views.

The Wickaninnish Hotel is one of the top locations to go storm-watching in the winter because of its position, and even by Tofino standards; it becomes rather pricey as a result.

Chesterman Beach is within a 5-minute walk away from the neighboring Hotel Zed Tofino if you’re searching for something a little more reasonably priced.

4.3. Long Beach

The beach in the stunning Pacific Rim National Park Reserve with the same name is aptly titled. Long Beach is undoubtedly the largest beach on Vancouver Island, with miles of lovely, white sand, and comes in the best beaches for surfing in Tofino.

Long Beach offers amazing surfing conditions. The beach is so large that you won’t feel that you must compete for the waves even if there are many surfers out.

However, you might need to compete for a parking space! You can enjoy surfing in Tofino there.

Long Beach is not just one of Vancouver Island’s biggest beaches, but it is also where Tofino’s surf scene began.

This beach was instrumental in Tofino’s transformation from a small fishing and logging community to a premier surfing location.

4.3.1. Incinerator Rock

At a place dubbed “Incinerator Rock,” Tofino’s Long Beach offers some of the best surfing. This unusual area, which had housed a garbage-burning factory, is now one of the most well-liked places for surfing in Tofino.

The best portion of the beach to access from the parking lot is this fantastic surf area, which is just next to the Pacific Rim Highway but typically, you have to be fortunate to find a parking spot here.

During low tide, the rocks don’t present a problem., But when the tide is high, you’ll need to be on the lookout for them and come to the best beaches for surfing in Tofino.

4.3.2. Lovekin Rock

Lovekin Rock is one of the risks to be cautious of in Long Beach. This prominent rock is a well-known element. Unfortunately, this tiny island is also among the riskier places for beach surfing.

A strong rip current at Lovekin Rock can drag surfers into the Pacific Ocean without their knowledge. The Canadian Coast Guard has had to save several surfers off this rock.

We strongly advise against surfing close to Lovekin Rock, especially if you’re a novice. Better to be safe than sorry!

4.4. Wickaninnish Beach

Wickaninnish Beach is a fantastic surfing spot that is certainly worth checking out. This location is a top pick for surfers of all skill levels because of its expansive sandy beaches and stunning ocean views.

The breathtaking Long Beach’s southernmost section is known as Wickaninnish Beach. This famous surfing destination is closer to Ucluelet and around 20 minutes from Tofino, but it’s still worth a trip.

Compared to other locations, the waves at Wickaninnish Beach are more erratic. You can still catch some incredible swells here, though, and come to the best beaches for surfing in Tofino.

On this beach, several surf schools offer lessons. The annual Canadian Surfing Championship is also held on the beach.

On the beach’s southern side is the parking area. The Kwisitis Tourist Center is also located here. This interpretive center is a fantastic resource for learning about Vancouver Island’s First Nations and the west coast.

4.5. Florencia Bay

In Ucluelet, Florencia Bay is a fantastic surfing location (also called Ukee by locals). It comprises the farthest-southern beach.

There are a few underwater rocks you need to be aware of, unlike some of the other beaches close to Tofino and Ucluelet. Moreover, watch out for rip currents close to Lost Shoe Creek and come to the best beaches for surfing in Tofino.

The best way to get to Florencia Bay is by vehicle if you want to go surfing. Alternatively, you can walk the Nuu-Chah-Nuulth Path from Wickaninnish Beach to Florencia Bay for more excitement. You can enjoy surfing in Tofino there.

5. When is Tofino’s Finest Surfing Season?

Image by Pixstar from Pixabay

Everyone who surfs will tell you the season you choose to go on matters. The nature of the waves will alter throughout the year. Better swells appear in some seasons than others.

The greatest time of the year to go surfing in Tofino highly depends on what you’re specifically looking for.

You may find the following surf conditions at Tofino throughout the year:

5.1. Spring

Over the spring, weather systems traveling along the coast to the north bring large swells to Tofino. But, as summer approaches, waves tend to become milder.

Because the swells are less intense and the weather is starting to get better, this is a perfect time for beginners. If you want fewer crowds, this time of year is also fantastic!

5.2. Summer

The best surf conditions for beginners can be found during the summer months, which also bring a lot of sun and warmth. Although you may occasionally encounter stronger waves, small, gentle waves are more typical.

Prepare to deal with more people on the beaches in the summer because Tofino is a popular summer destination for tourists. If you want to avoid the crowds and the northwest winds that increase in the late afternoon, get up early.

5.3. Autumn

While Tofino’s summers are well-known, locals know that October is the greatest time to go surfing. Large waves begin to wash in as the crowds begin to depart, and the water gets as warm as it can.

Be out for storms, which begin to develop later in the year. In Tofino, the weather is constantly changing.

5.4. Winter

Winter is the storm season when Tofino’s coastline is pummeled by the full might of the Pacific Ocean. Up to 30-foot-high huge waves are produced by violent storm systems.

Large swells result in monster surf and fantastic storm-watching. You’ll frequently be better off viewing the storm from inside on stormy days.

Surfing in Tofino
Image by Gnexxnews from Pixabay

Of course, not every wave is big, but at this time of year, you should expect a greater challenge.

Although the beaches are far less crowded, the water is colder, the winds are harsher, and the waves are bigger. Tofino waves are better suited for experienced surfers in the winter.

6. Does Tofino Need a Wetsuit for Surfing?

Most likely, when you see surfing, you picture people in boardshorts or bathing suits riding surfboards. While we don’t want to ruin that picture for you, in Tofino, it is just not the case because a wetsuit is unquestionably necessary to prevent freezing.

Around Tofino and Vancouver Island, generally, the ocean is fairly chilly. Just how chilly is it? The temperature of the ocean typically varies between 7°C in the winter to 15°C during the summer, and that’s quite cold!

Hence, if you want to surf the waters near Tofino, you’ll need a wetsuit that is thick enough. We advise using a 5/4 wetsuit where the neoprene is 5mm around your core and 4mm for your legs and arms, as shown by the 5/4 numerals. The finest wetsuit thickness for Tofino’s chilly ocean waters is this one!

Surfing in Tofino
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Uncertain about the equipment required to surf in Tofino? See our guide for information on the surf gear you need for the chilly waters near Vancouver Island.

Around Tofino, there are a lot of rental companies. A wetsuit and surfboard rental typically costs $50 per day.

7. Things to Know While Surfing in Tofino

7.1. No Lifeguards

It can be a lot of fun to surf on Tofino’s Long Beach, but you need to be mindful of the surf conditions before you head out to the water because if something goes wrong, there are no lifeguards to save you!

Keep an eye out for underwater dangers, including rip currents and pebbles. Moreover, be sure you can swim well. You might need to paddle to safety at any time!

7.2. Rip Currents

Rip currents, which are strong currents of water that move away from the shore, are one of the greatest water dangers at Tofino’s beaches.

Surfing in Tofino
Image by Robert Nathan Garlington from Pixabay

When waves break near the shore, the extra water flows back offshore along the route of least resistance, creating these rips.

At the ocean’s surface, rips are powerful and will swiftly yank you from the ground. They are highly deadly to persons in the water because of this, and they are to blame for many fatalities around the world each year.

8. How to Navigate Tofino?

With a car, getting around Tofino is the easiest. A lot of the surf beaches are far from the hamlet, which must be travelled.

Want to rent a car? We advise using rental cars to make reservations to get the best deals, and the Tofino airport and numerous other locations on Vancouver Island provide automobile rentals.

Bike riding is a fantastic alternative to driving in Tofino, especially when you’re riding an electric bike. Place the surfboard in its rack, then pedal to your destination. All of the top surf spots in Tofino are accessible via bike routes.

Surfing in Tofino
Image by Justus from Pixabay

There are a few additional excellent sites on the island in addition to Tofino, which boasts some of the greatest surfing in British Columbia. While less crowded than Tofino, Keeha Beach & Pachena Beach in Bamfield provide good surfing chances.

When the circumstances are ideal, Jordan River Regional Park, which is closer to Victoria, is a fantastic choice. Another choice is Sombrio Beach at Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, where you may camp on the beach and enjoy great surf and a secret waterfall.

It takes some effort to get to Raft Cove Provincial Park near northern Vancouver Island, but the payoff is a beach that is practically entirely to yourself.

Final Note

If you’re new to Tofino, you may have concerns about where to find the greatest waves, when to go, what to pack, as well as where to stay, among other things.

In this trip guide, as natives of Vancouver Island, we’ll cover everything we know regarding surfing in Tofino. Upon visiting this amazing location, you’ll know precisely what to anticipate!

Tofino, known as the “Surf Capitol of Canada,” is recognized for its year-round surf appeal, miles of sandy beaches, and top-notch waves.

Tofino is the place to be for a surf culture that is so laid back, wet suits & rubber boots go with everything, whether you’re an excited new rider, an experienced surfer, or a content spectator.



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