Tofino, B.C., may be a Mecca for the surf obsessed, but it is also oh so much more. Besides a stellar storm-watching season (November through February), this quaint coastal town has a burgeoning food scene—32 restaurateurs and counting! From surf to sandwiches, here’s how to enjoy the best Tofino has to offer. (Travel tip: The fastest and best way to get to and from Tofino is by air (total flight time is less than one hour), and Orca Air flies frequently from Vancouver International’s South Terminal.) —Michelle Hopkins
stay. Former NHL players Willie Mitchell and Dan Hamhuis, along with developer Andrew Purdey, took over the dated Tofino Resort & Marina and reopened it last summer, breathing new life into its 62 suites. Now, an Adventure Centre offers bear- and whale-watching tours, scenic boat rides, hikes to hot springs and water taxis to island trails, among other expeditions. After all those excursions, curl up on your private deck to enjoy spectacular views, or sink into the luxurious comfort of your king-size bed.
see and step. The world is brimming with “whale and bear junkies," and chances are you’ll see one or both during a three-hour expedition in Tofino Resort & Marina’s covered boat. The best whale viewing runs from March (sometimes late February) through October. Then, lace up and head for a hike along the Tonquin Trail. Offering gorgeous views of Clayoquot Sound, this path takes you down to the beach and passes through rainforests along the Pacific Coast. An easy boardwalk hike, it stretches from the community centre to Middle Beach. For a longer hike, continue on McKenzie Beach up to Crystal Cove. For a leisurely stroll, Chesterman Beach offers 2.7 kilometres of white sandy beach and sneak peaks at some of Tofino’s most beautiful residences.
savour. For all the fresh fish you fancy, Tofino delivers in spades. At 1909 Kitchen chef Paul Moran forages from the local ocean, shoreline and forests to bring shared plates of Pacific crab boil, side stripe salad and cedar-planked miso-marinated sablefish filet. Or visit its sister restaurant, The Hatch Waterfront Pub, for salmon tacos, signature wood-fired pizzas and crispy raw kale salad (plus views of Clayoquot Sound and live music). Other excellent options: Sea Monster Noodle Bar for poke bowls and steam buns that melt in your mouth; Surfside Grill at Pacific Sands Beach Resort for fish dishes caught by co-owner/commercial fisherman Jeff Mikus; Pointe Restaurant for oysters and seared Digby scallop mousse; Ice House Oyster Bar for the most sublime island beet salad and scene-stealing poached halibut; and Shelter for the show-stopping tuna stack and crispy Brussels sprouts, plus a bottle of Burrowing Owl to a smile on your face.
shop. Local and sustainable are concepts merchants take seriously here. Salt founder Jennifer Steven procures beautifully crafted soaps, candles, blankets, T-shirts and more in her quaint boutique tucked in a historic building, while The Factory features the works of three locals—west coast photography by Kyler Vos, jewelry by Lisa Fletcher and handbags and accessories handcrafted on site by Market Canvas Leather.
spa. A spa treatment that can make you feel both youthful and serene can be a magic elixir. At Tofino’s Sacred Stone Spa you’ll be wrapped in a cocoon of warmth while being treated to a customized facial using locally sourced seaweed, kelp and Èminence Organics. If that isn’t enough, bathe in yet another layer of serenity while your esthetician delivers a 10-minute upper body massage.