Day Trip Nanaimo To Tofino – PLUS 8 Top Tofino Eateries


Taking a day trip from Nanaimo to Tofino is possible, but it’s important to note that Tofino is about a 3-hour drive from Nanaimo one way. This makes for a long day trip, especially considering the time spent driving. Here’s a suggested itinerary for a day trip from Nanaimo to Tofino:
Tofino, nestled on the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island, offers a wide range of activities that showcase its natural beauty and outdoor adventure opportunities. Here are some of the top-rated activities to experience in Tofino:
1. Surfing at Long Beach:
   – Tofino is renowned for its surfing, and Long Beach is one of the best spots for both beginners and experienced surfers. Rent a surfboard or take a lesson with one of the local surf schools to catch some waves.
2. Whale Watching Tours:
   – Tofino is a prime location for whale watching, especially for orcas (killer whales), gray whales, and humpback whales. Join a guided whale watching tour to observe these majestic marine mammals in their natural habitat.
3. Hiking in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve:
   – This park, comprising the West Coast Trail, Long Beach, and the Broken Group Islands, offers stunning coastal scenery, old-growth rainforests, and diverse wildlife. Popular hikes include the Rainforest Trail and the Wild Pacific Trail in nearby Ucluelet.
4. Hot Springs Cove:
   – Take a boat or seaplane tour to Hot Springs Cove, a natural hot spring located in Maquinna Provincial Park. Enjoy a scenic hike through the rainforest followed by a relaxing soak in the geothermal pools overlooking the ocean.
5. Kayaking and Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP):
   – Explore Tofino’s calm waterways, including Clayoquot Sound and the inlet waters, by kayak or SUP. Paddle through serene channels, coves, and even venture out to explore the surrounding islands.
6. Visit Chesterman Beach and Cox Bay Beach:
   – These picturesque beaches are perfect for relaxing, beachcombing, and watching the sunset. Chesterman Beach is known for its long stretches of sandy shoreline, while Cox Bay Beach is popular for surfing and beach walks.
7. Bear Watching Tours:
   – Join a guided bear watching tour to observe black bears foraging along the shores of Clayoquot Sound. These tours offer a unique opportunity to see bears in their natural habitat while learning about their behavior and conservation efforts.
8. Cultural Experiences:
   – Discover the local Indigenous culture through guided tours and cultural experiences offered by First Nations guides. Learn about the history, traditions, and connection to the land through storytelling, art, and traditional activities.
These activities highlight the diversity of experiences Tofino has to offer, from thrilling outdoor adventures like surfing and whale watching to tranquil explorations of its stunning natural landscapes. Whether you’re a nature lover, adventure seeker, or simply looking to relax by the sea, Tofino promises unforgettable experiences on Vancouver Island’s wild west coast.

Morning Departure:
1. Early Departure from Nanaimo:
   – Start your day early to make the most of your time in Tofino. Aim to leave Nanaimo by early morning to avoid traffic and allow enough time for stops along the way.
2. Scenic Drive to Tofino:
   – Enjoy the scenic drive along Highway 4, which takes you through the rugged landscapes of Vancouver Island’s west coast. Take your time to appreciate the forests, lakes, and mountains along the route.
Late Morning/Early Afternoon:
3. Arrival in Tofino:
   – Upon arriving in Tofino, you might want to visit a local coffee shop or bakery for a quick breakfast or snack before starting your exploration.
4. Explore Tofino:
   – Spend your time exploring the charming town of Tofino. Walk along the waterfront, visit local shops and galleries, and soak in the laid-back coastal vibe.
5. Lunch in Tofino:
   – There are several great restaurants and cafes in Tofino where you can enjoy a delicious lunch. Consider trying fresh seafood dishes or locally sourced cuisine that the town is known for.
Tofino, located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, is known for its stunning natural beauty and also for its vibrant culinary scene. Here are some of the best restaurants in Tofino that offer a range of dining experiences:
1. Wolf in the Fog:
   – One of Tofino’s most acclaimed restaurants, Wolf in the Fog offers a menu that highlights local and seasonal ingredients, with a focus on seafood. The atmosphere is lively and modern, and the dishes are inventive and delicious.
2. The Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn:
   – Located at the iconic Wickaninnish Inn, The Pointe Restaurant offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. The menu features Pacific Northwest cuisine with an emphasis on fresh seafood and local ingredients.
3. Sobo:
   – A Tofino institution, Sobo (short for “Sophisticated Bohemian”) is known for its creative and globally inspired dishes. They specialize in seafood, burgers, and innovative salads, all made with locally sourced ingredients.
4. Shelter Restaurant:
   – Situated in a rustic-chic building with views of Tofino’s harbor, Shelter Restaurant offers a cozy atmosphere and a menu that focuses on fresh seafood, burgers, and hearty comfort food. They also have a great selection of local beers and wines.
5. Tacofino Tofino:
   – Originating from a food truck, Tacofino Tofino offers a casual dining experience with a focus on delicious tacos, burritos, and other Mexican-inspired dishes. The food is fresh, flavorful, and perfect for a relaxed meal.
6. Kuma Tofino:
   – Known for its Japanese izakaya-style dining, Kuma Tofino serves a variety of small plates, sushi, and hearty ramen bowls. The cozy atmosphere and quality of food make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
7. Rhino Coffee House:
   – For a more casual dining experience, Rhino Coffee House is a popular spot for breakfast and lunch. They serve excellent coffee, freshly baked pastries, sandwiches, and salads in a laid-back setting.
8. The Hatch Waterfront Pub:
   – Located right on the water in Tofino’s harbor, The Hatch offers pub-style food with a focus on local seafood and craft beers. It’s a great place to enjoy a meal while taking in views of the marina.
These restaurants showcase the diversity and quality of Tofino’s culinary offerings, ranging from fine dining experiences with ocean views to casual eateries serving delicious comfort food and international flavors. Whether you’re looking for seafood, Japanese cuisine, or a cozy cafe atmosphere, Tofino has options to satisfy every palate. It’s recommended to check availability and make reservations, especially during peak tourist seasons.
6. Visit Chesterman Beach or Cox Bay Beach:
   – Tofino is famous for its beautiful beaches. Spend some time relaxing or walking along the sandy shores of Chesterman Beach or Cox Bay Beach. These beaches offer stunning views and are perfect for a leisurely afternoon.
7. Explore Pacific Rim National Park Reserve (Optional):
   – If you have time and want to explore more of the area’s natural beauty, consider a visit to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. The park offers hiking trails through old-growth rainforests and along rugged coastlines.
Late Afternoon/Early Evening Return:
8. Return to Nanaimo:
   – Begin your journey back to Nanaimo in the late afternoon or early evening. Keep in mind the driving time and plan for stops or breaks along the way as needed.
– Drive Safely: The drive from Nanaimo to Tofino includes winding roads and potential wildlife crossings, so drive carefully and allow extra time for the journey.
– Check Ferry Schedules: If you plan to take a ferry to Vancouver Island from the mainland, check the schedules and consider making reservations in advance, especially during peak travel times.
– Plan Ahead: While Tofino can be visited in a day trip from Nanaimo, consider staying overnight if you want to fully immerse yourself in the town’s atmosphere and explore more of its surroundings.
A day trip from Nanaimo to Tofino offers a glimpse of the stunning west coast of Vancouver Island, but due to the distance involved, it’s a good idea to plan your itinerary carefully to make the most of your time in Tofino.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


“Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

Subscribe to my Newsletter