Where to Stay in Tofino

SD › Best Places to Stay in Tofino
Updated: March 17, 2023
By Santorini Dave

Our Favorite Tofino Hotels

• 5-Star Resort: Long Beach Lodge
• Boutique Hotel: Reef Point
• Cheap Hotel: Motel Harborview
• Family Hotel: Pacific Sands
• Indoor Pool: Ocean Village
• Outdoor Pool: Black Rock
• Near Airport: Cox Bay

The Best Area to Stay in Tofino

See Also

Best Hotels in Tofino

There is no place on the west coast of Canada quite like Tofino. Known as the surf capital of Canada, Tofino is a small coastal town on Vancouver Island. The big draws to this remote area are its extraordinary beaches, old growth forests, and plenty of opportunities to get out in nature.

Tofino is a great spot for beach-combing, and there’s lots more to see and do outdoors. Whale & bear watching tours, rainforest walking trails, and fishing charters are widely available. Sea kayaking and paddleboard excursions offer a fun way to experience the nearby Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Reserve. There’s also the not-so-common wellness experience – a remote floating cedar sauna that’s only accessible by boat, recently featured in Time magazine.

Two surfers in wet suits walk through shallow water along a sandy beach

Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park

With world-class surfing facilities and waves breaking in every season, riding the waves in Tofino is a year-round activity (with a wet suit). Summer is the best time for beginner surfers. Winter (December to March) is best for experienced surfers.

Tofino has some of the best restaurants on Vancouver Island specializing in boat-to-table fresh seafood including wild Pacific Salmon. There are at least a dozen great restaurants in Tofino’s town center and many of the nearby luxury resorts boast top-notch dining paired with outstanding views of the Pacific Ocean.

The peak tourism season in Tofino runs from June to September. We recommend making hotel reservations four to six months in advance for summer travel.

Boats docked at a marina with a mountain in the background

Boats docked at Tofino Resort & Marina

Visiting Tofino in Winter

Tofino has seen an increase in winter tourism as storm watching gains popularity. From November to March, winter storms churn up waves that can reach 40 feet in height. Typically, there are around ten storms per month during the winter. If you are visiting Tofino in the wintertime, the prime locations to experience the power of a winter storm are the upscale resorts along the Pacific Ocean. Some resorts supply complimentary rain gear including umbrellas, rain jackets, and rain pants. The Wickaninnish Inn also provides rain boots. It’s a particularly cost-effective time to go; winter hotel rates in Tofino can easily be half of what you’ll pay in the summer months.

Tofino Travel Tips

  • Tofino-Long Beach Airport is located midway between Tofino and Ucluelet, about 9 miles (15 km) from Tofino town center. It is a small and quiet airport, serving limited flights from Vancouver, Victoria, and Seattle.
  • From March to October, Harbour Air offers daily Seaplane service from Vancouver’s downtown harbor to Tofino’s town center harbor. Connecting flights from Seattle harbor are also available.
  • Having a car is highly recommended. Rental cars are available at the Tofino Airport, however inventory is limited so be sure to book ahead.
  • During the summer season, a complimentary shuttle service runs hourly between Tofino and Cox Bay – with numerous stops in between.
  • Bikes are a great way to get around the area and there are numerous places to rent one. The new Pacific Rim Pathway is a paved multi-use trail stretching 26 miles from Tofino to Ucluelet through Pacific Rim National Park, with lots of stopping-off points along the way including the area’s most famous beach, Long Beach, and one of the most popular hiking trails, Rainforest Trail.

A pair of red Adirondack chairs on a sandy forest trail leading to the beach.

Trail to the secret cove at Wickaninnish Inn.

The Best Places to Stay in Tofino

The 3 Best Areas around Tofino for Tourists

1. Tofino

A-frame cottage on the Pacific coast

Beachfront cottage at Duffin Cove Oceanfront Lodging in Tofino.

Tofino has a laid back vibe and is considered Canada’s Hawaii. Tofino’s town center is small, compact, and easily walkable with a variety of great restaurants, a handful of excellent food trucks, several art galleries and gift shops, and numerous surf shops. It offers excellent views of Tofino Inlet, Meares Island, and Clayoquot Sound, and there is a large children’s playground and grassy park in the center of town. Bikes can be great way to get around – especially in peak summer season, as street parking can be limited.

Hotels in Tofino’s town center are budget to mid-range, with views of the calm waters of Tofino’s Inlet and harbor. The town center is where you will find the majority of the restaurants, cafes, coffeeshops, a large grocery store, and the tour companies.

Tofino’s more upscale and private resorts are located about 5 minutes south of Tofino by car, boasting extraordinary sandy beaches, spectacular ocean views, and lots of excellent surfing. Most of these high-end resorts have one or two eateries on site.

Hotel suites set in the trees.

Treehouses at Middle Beach Lodge

Tofino’s best luxury hotel for families is Pacific Sands Beach Resort with beachside suites, full kitchens, casual outdoor eatery Surfside Grill, and a complimentary Kid’s Club during the summer. Another great, and slightly cheaper, family option is Ocean Village Resort with rustic beachside cabins, full kitchens, and a large indoor pool (the only indoor pool in Tofino).

2. Ucluelet

Pronounced “You-clue-let,” and often referred to as “Ukee” by the locals, Ucluelet sits on the rugged coastline of the Pacific Ocean, 20 miles south of Tofino. Ucluelet doesn’t have the surfer-vibe like Tofino, but is instead a wonderfully charming, quiet fishing village where you can hear the sound of fog horns. Hotels are less expensive here than Tofino, and the area has fewer restaurants and amenities. There are a few pubs here, but if you’re looking for nightlife, Tofino is a better option.

Ucluelet’s Wild Pacific Trail is incredibly scenic. Following the coastline through lush rainforest, it’s an easy and well-marked trail dotted with benches to rest on, and opportunities to spot whales. Ucluelet is also home to the Ucluelet Aquarium, which is great for kids – they love the touch tanks! (Closed over the winter season.)

3. Pacific Rim National Park

A group of hikers walking down a wood-planked staircase in a forest of tall pine trees

Located between Tofino and Ucluelet (though closer to Tofino), Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is home to some of the best beaches and forest trails in the area. The most famous beach in the Park is Long Beach which stretches over 10 miles in length. The dense forest has gigantic centuries-old cedar and hemlock trees. Walking trails are very well maintained. The Park’s nine trails lead to a variety of beaches, viewpoints, and secluded coves. The paths are relatively easy, though most have wooden boardwalks and steps. There are also guided tours available. The best trails are Rainforest Trail, Schooner Cove Trail, and South Beach Trail.
Note: A Park Pass is required to use any of the beaches or walking trails.

Pacific Rim National Park is composed of three separate sections. The section referred to in this article, located between Tofino and Ucluelet, is the Long Beach Unit. The two other areas, located beyond Ucluelet, are the West Coast Trail and the Broken Group Islands. There are no hotels within Pacific Rim National Park, but tent cabins are available to rent from May to October at Green Point Campground on Long Beach.

Best Beaches in Tofino

Surfers and beachcombers at sunset

Sunset at Cox Bay Beach in Tofino. The best hotels at Cox Bay Beach are Pacific Sands, Long Beach Lodge, and Cox Bay Beach Resort.

Tofino Beaches

Tofino beaches are flat and sandy, and generally good for surfing. Tofino beaches do not allow bonfires, but do allow portable fire pits on two beaches: Mackenzie Beach and Chesterman Beach.

  • Tonquin Beach – The only beach in the town of Tofino, a 10 to 15-minute walk from the town center. The beach is accessible via a trail with a few boardwalks and wooden bridges (3 min walk).
    Nearest Hotels: Duffin CoveThe Maq
  • Mackenzie Beach – Close to Tofino town center, and popular with families; a common sight is kids splashing in the waves. Also a great spot for stand-up paddle boarding and beachcombing.
    Nearest Hotels: Ocean Village ResortBest Western Plus Tin Wis
  • Middle Beach – This small and lovely beach can only be accessed via forest foot path, located beside the Middle Beach Lodge. Note: it’s a gravel road from the main highway to Middle Beach Lodge.
  • Chesterman Beach – “W” shaped, sheltered sandy beach. At low tide, a sand spit emerges so you can walk out to Frank Island for great views of the entire beach and mountains beyond. The sand spit divides the beach into North Chesterman and South Chesterman. The north beach has more swells so it’s popular with beginner surfers, while the south beach is more family-orientated.
    Nearest Hotels: Wickaninnish InnHotel Zed
  • Cox Bay – An ideal spot for surfing and bodyboarding. It has golden sand and larger waves, but is still gentle enough for kids to play in.
    Nearest Hotels: Pacific SandsLong Beach LodgeCox Bay Beach Resort
  • Long Beach – 10 miles in length, with flat hard packed sand, located in Pacific Rim National Park. A great spot for surfing, beachcombing, walking, kite flying, and bodyboarding. The hard packed sand makes it possible to push a children’s stroller or ride a cycle bike. The nearest hotels to Long Beach are located at Cox Bay.
Pacific beach at sunset

North Chesterman Beach at sunset.

Ucluelet Beaches

Ucluelet beaches are pebbly and rocky with no surfing. They do make a great spot for a bonfire, which are allowed on all Ucluelet beaches.

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About Santorini Dave

Santorini Dave Santorini Dave was started in 2011 by a guy who loves Greece and Europe, travel and great hotels. We're now a small team of writers and researchers dedicated to providing the best travel content on the internet. We focus on Santorini, Mykonos, Athens, and Greece, offering recommendations for top hotels, neighborhoods, and family-friendly hotels worldwide. Dave can be contacted at dave@santorinidave.com.