With a day in Tofino full of adventures ahead, the most important thing is to get a good cup of coffee in you! Tuff Beans is a small boutique café attached to Schooners restaurant on the corner of Campbell and Second Street.
With a modern-nautical theme, you feel a little bit like a sophisticated pirate, if there ever was one. Their delicious coffee is organic and fair trade and comes with an option to upgrade with one of their “special flavours” which will spice up your morning.
The Tuff Beans kitchen cooks up a variety of sweet and savory goodies every day including very generously sized muffins. They won’t last long though so get in quick!
If you didn’t surf, did you really visit Tofino?
Wrestle your way into a winter wetsuit, grab a surfboard and jump into the ocean at one of Canada’s most famous surf beaches. If you don’t have a wetsuit or a board you can hire both from Pacific Surf Company.
More than just your average rental company, these guys are environmentally conscious and strive to provide you with the highest quality lessons and life-changing experiences. They also create some pretty trendy, and socially conscious apparel – well-done guys!
If you prefer to start your day in Tofino at a slower pace, head down to the nearby town of Ucluelet. Here you’ll find the Lighthouse Loop which is a small section of the Wild Pacific Trail. This 2.6km loop will take about 30-45 minutes to complete.
You can find the trailhead from the parking lot halfway down the Coast Guard Road. It will lead you along the rugged coastline where you can spot a range of wildlife including the 20,000 animals which pass during migration in spring. You’ll have the chance to spot orca whales, seals, otters, and sea lions. It’s easy to see why so many ships have met the sea floor here over the years, it’s advised to keep off the rocks as unexpected waves can suddenly hit at any time of the year.
Once you’ve walked along the coast, follow the path past the Amphitrite Lighthouse and up through the mossy inland rainforest. For the best photography, come for a misty sunrise or a vibrant sunset catching the silhouettes of the twisted trees against the bright sky. You’ll find some great spots around the north of the lighthouse.
What was first started in a surf shop car park in Tofino is now a thriving franchise located in hot spots on the island and mainland. The creators at Tacofino were inspired by the bold flavors of back-alley BBQ’s they discovered while surfing around the world.
They decided it was a good idea to wrap it all up in a tortilla and boy were they right! While supporting local farmers, Tacofino appreciates what it’s like to need to be refueled after a long day adventuring. Peak eating times can get pretty hectic so try and skip the line up by coming early or having a late lunch.
Mark Hobson’s Gallery
After lunch take a stroll through the town of Tofino itself. Although it can be touristy, there are plenty of gems amongst the rubble. My favorite store to visit was Mark Hobson’s gallery. As I was walking by, a colorful painting of a bright red octopus caught my eye and I just had to go in and take a look.
All of Mark’s paintings were absolutely stunning. When I turned around to talk to the artist I realized I had seen him that very morning painting down at the Lighthouse Loop Trail. Self-taught over the last 30 years through trial and error he was kind enough to chat for a while and share some of his techniques in acrylic painting.
The way he makes his landscapes and wildlife come to life was so impressive. As a photographer, I could really appreciate the colours and composition he used in all of his paintings. There was not one that I wasn’t impressed with. From wild surf to misty rain forests he painted in a captivating way. Check out some of his work on his Instagram.
Love Craft Gallery
Another gem is the Love Craft Gallery. Mostly stocked with local artisans who use natural surroundings and indigenous art as inspiration, it’s clear to see there is a lot of talent in the area. They stock a range of jewelry, art, photography, ceramics, and woodwork all crafted with love. Love Craft Gallery also has an espresso bar and are more than happy to keep you caffeinated for the rest of the day.
Schooner Cove Trail
The best way to enjoy the lovely afternoon sun is on the beach. If you want a beach that’s a little more secluded then take the 2km in-and-out trail along a boardwalk through a thriving rainforest. This trail leaves from the Schooner Cove carpark and will take you through an overgrown lush forest along a rickety boardwalk which looks like something out of the forbidden forest in Harry Potter.
Although the overall walk is relatively easy. the boardwalk is slippery, wobbly in certain parts, a little rotted and is missing boards more frequently than you’d prefer but this wonder shouldn’t be missed. After the kilometer stroll, you’ll find yourself at Schooner’s Beach. Full of driftwood and pine tree-lined islands just offshore, it’s a quiet place to enjoy the rays of the sun and watch the surfers catching a wave in the distance. This beach is best to visit when the tide is out so you have some space to explore.
Staying in a town right on the ocean, you can’t pass up a serving of fresh seafood for dinner. Kuma (meaning bear) is a down-to-earth restaurant serving a simple menu comprised of Japanese-Pacific Northwest fusion. Focusing on the shared meal mentality, Kuma mainly serves old family favorites of the Kawai family using fresh local ingredients where possible.
Enjoy your meal with some sake or a local Tofino craft beer. Booking isn’t available at this homey eatery.
Where to Stay
Just a 6-minute walk to Chesterman Beach, Sienna’s Tree House is a pleasant property surrounded by trees which gives it a secluded feel. It's the perfect place to relax after a day in Tofino. It’s far enough away from Tofino to feel peace but only a short drive from the town center and nearby beaches.
The owners are kind and happy to answer any questions about the area and also offer their local Tofino hints and tips. The two bedroom apartment includes a living room and kitchen with everything you need. The one bedroom has a sweet little kitchenette. Free WiFi is included of course and a complimentary spot for your car.
You can also start your day with a cup of hot coffee with fresh milk provided to you in a glass bottle by the owners.
If you prefer something a little closer to the water, check out Tofino Resort and Marina which is Tofino's only waterfront resort.
Their recently renovated hotel is located in the heart of town allowing you to walk to anywhere within downtown Tofino. They also have an Adventure Centre which offers tours to go whale watching, bear watching, to the hot springs or guided fishing.
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