The nine things you should do in Tofino, Canada

THE ONE ACTIVITY

In Tofino, an end-of-the-road town on the western tip of Vancouver Island, almost everything revolves around the water. And beach activities are not just a summer thing. Surfers hit the waves all year, especially in winter when 10-metre swells justify Tofino's reputation for cold water surfing. During wet season, snuggle up to watch storms rolling in off the Pacific Ocean. In summer, hit the sand on a fat-tire bike.

THE ONE DAY TRIP

Underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau  described the waters off Vancouver Island - home to whales, dolphins, sea lions, countless fish species and the odd sea otter -  as the second most biologically diverse in the world, behind the Red Sea. Scuba-diving, whale-watching and kayaking are popular. For wow factor, take a half-day tour with Jamie's Whaling Station to Hot Springs Cove, where thermal rockpools are reached by a half-hour hike through majestic old growth forest. You can boat there (look out for whales) and fly by seaplane back. See jamies.com

THE ONE HOTEL

The Wickaninnish Inn, a family-owned Relais & Chateaux property, is perched between rainforest and ocean on a rocky outcrop. Every room has ocean views, perfect for storm-watching, and the cedar woodwork throughout, made in the indigenous adze style, is elegantly rustic. The spa's Hishuk Ish Tsawalk treatment, meaning "everything is one - all is interconnected", is an unusual mix of seaweed exfoliation, water therapy, massage, meditation and sage burning. See wickinn.com

THE ONE RESTAURANT

Tofino's culinary scene is on fire, from the cult favourite Tacofino food truck to the Wickaninnish Inn's Pointe restaurant, with its 1100-wine cellar and circular dining room. Wolf In The Fog justifies the buzz with airy, rustic surrounds and a menu "inspired by the oceans, forests and shoreline of our beautiful backyard". Go for cedar-infused cocktails, whole smoked steelhead trout and the best Caeser salad this side of the 1980s. See wolfinthefog.com

THE ONE DELICACY

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It's little wonder Lisa Ahair's broiled oyster, served at her casual restaurant SoBo, is a Clayoquot Oyster Festival competition winner. Slathered in salmon bacon, miso mayo and key lime, the palm-sized behemoth is several mouthfuls of salty, briney, creamy, tangy bliss. See sobo.ca

THE ONE PLACE TO SPOT BEARS

In this part of the world, bear watching is best done from the water. Once winter hibernation is over, Clayoquot Sound's resident black bears come down to the beach at low tide to feast on crabs. Several companies run bear spotting boat trips from April to October.

THE ONE HIKE

Tofino is surrounded by ancient coastal temperate rainforest, much of it protected by the Pacific Rim National Park. There are walks of varying lengths and difficulties, starting with a 10-minute loop through ancient cedars around the Wickaninnish Inn. Lone Cone, a tough seven kilometre hike on Meares Island, is accessible only by water taxi and has spectacular views of Clayoquot Sound. Don't miss the island's 1000-year-old Douglas fir trees. 

THE ONE SOUVENIR

The home of the late Henry Nola, an eccentric artist who was part-time caretaker at the Wickaninnish Inn, is now a carving shed used by Toficians carrying on the region's indigenous woodwork tradition. The Inn gives artists free use of the beachfront shed in exchange for welcoming visitors. George "Feather George" Yearsley is a regular and his hand-carved eagle feathers, made with cedar and abalone shell, are a prized possession among locals. See wickinn.com/about

THE ONE PICNIC

On a warm day, head to Picnic Charcuterie, where Tina Windsor makes cured meats, preserves and cheeses using local produce. Across the road, grab a six pack of Tofino Brewing's Spruce Tree Ale or a bottle of old growth cedar gin from Tofino Distillery. Then hit one of four main beaches or find a secluded spot on the coast. See picniccharcuterie.com

Rachel Olding travelled courtesy of Destination BC and the Ultimate BC Adventure

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