Tofino Travel Planner
There’s something otherworldly about Long Beach.
Standing at the ocean’s surf-battered edge gazing westward, it’s a powerful thing to think the next landfall is Japan. Long Beach is an area on the west coast of Vancouver Island stretching 26 miles (41.5 kilometers) from the picturesque fishing villages of Tofino (population about 1,700 year-round residents) in the north, to Ucluelet (pronounced yew-kloo-let; population about 1,900) in the south. The towns are connected by the mostly two-lane Pacific Rim Highway that travels through the dense rainforests of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and hug 18 miles (30 kilometers) of rocky shores and sandy beaches. The area is home to the traditional territories of five Nuu-Chah-Nulth First Nations peoples who have lived here for an estimated 10,000 years.
Long Beach’s natural beauty attracts travelers of all stripes. Some come to enjoy nature in all its guises. Others to surf—the beaches have some of the best waves on the planet—or to experience storm watching season (November to March when it’s windy and wet). Some come to enjoy tranquil resorts and inns, and explore the diversity of the area’s food scene.There are bakeries, casual cafés, seafood shacks, and distinctive dining rooms, all serving sustainable local cuisine.
This has given rise to the Tofino-Ucluelet Culinary Guild (TUCG), newly formed to create awareness for area farmers, fishermen, and foragers, and provide “unique food experiences that rely on sustainable farm/boat-to-table practices and the freshest local ingredients.” In 2011 the guild launched the first-ever Feast! Tofino–Ucluelet, a month-long celebration of local sustainable fare. Three weeklong segments celebrated salmon , crab, and spot prawns.
places to eat
If you haven’t filled up at the various special events, here’s a rundown of a few great places to eat in the area. SoBo, short for Sophisticated Bohemian (311 Neill St., Tofino, 250-725-2341, www.sobo.ca) began as a food truck and is now very much at home in snazzy new digs. The food is pure Tofino—freshly made from local ingredients, from fiddleheads to fish. The wine list is a fine balance of BC’s best bottles and a well-chosen global selection.
Shelter Restaurant (601 Campbell St., Tofino, 250-725-3353, www.shelterrestaurant.com) has a bustling lounge downstairs and relaxed dining above. Seafood lovers come for fresh-shucked oysters and succulent Dungeness crab.
Order a monster cinnamon bun or cheese scone and coffee at the Common Loaf Bake Shop (180 1st St., Tofino, 250-725-3915), a Tofino tradition dating back to the 1960s.
Another long-time favorite, Tough City Sushi (350 Main St., Tofino, 250-725-2021, www.toughcity.com), in the eclectic Inn at Tough City, is chock-a-block with kitschy Asian and nautical decor and a pajama-clad Buddha.
Enjoy meticulously crafted dishes—think marinated Pacific octopus salad and pan-roasted sablefish—at the Pointe Restaurant (500 Osprey Lane, Tofino, 250-725-3100, in The Wickaninnish Inn. Dining is complemented by 240-degree ocean views and a soundtrack of crashing waves.
Fetch restaurant, in the Blackrock Oceanfront Resort (596 Marine Drive, Ucluelet, 250-726-4800, www.blackrockresort.com), serves elegantly prepared, Ocean Wise-certified local salmon, Dungeness crab, and scallops. Don’t miss the wine cellar, built into rock and cooled by ocean waves. A wall of windows affords heartstopping views of the surge channel crashing below.
where to stay
Accommodations range from modest to deluxe at B&Bs, motels, guesthouses, and inns—even a ship!—and dogs are welcome at many. Close to Tofino, the spectacular Wickaninnish Inn (500 Osprey Lane, Tofino, 250-725-3100, www.wickinn.com), perched on a rocky promontory overlooking Chesterman Beach, offers luxury at every turn, from its hand-adzed red-cedar-and-Douglas-fir entry to sumptuous rooms complete with fireplaces and ceilings with wave-washed sand details.
Nestled at the forest’s edge on Cox Bay, Long Beach Lodge’s Great Room (1441 Pacific Rim Highway, Tofino, 250-725-2442, www.longbeachlodgeresort.com) offers soaring vistas of beach and ocean, complete with surfers from the lodge’s surf school. Opt for a room in the lodge or a woodsy cottage. Neighboring Pacific Sands Beach Resort (1421 Pacific Rim Highway, Tofino, 250-725-3322, www.pacificsands.com) is a mix of oceanfront suites and luxurious villas, complete with fireplace, kitchen, and deck or patio. If you like to cook, Curious Cove Guesthouse (Tofino, 250-725-3417, www.tofinocuriouscove.com) on Jensen’s Bay near Chesterman Beach, with its professional kitchen will knock your socks off. Snugged into a quiet forested spot, it backs onto Clayoquot Sound’s tidal flats known for wildlife and migratory bird spotting. Ucluelet offers a pair of polar opposites. Blackrock Oceanfront Resort (596 Marine Drive, Ucluelet, 250-726-4800, www.blackrockresort.com), a perfect mix of rustic elegance and West Coast cool, is steps from the ruggedly scenic Wild Pacific Trail. For something completely different, bunk in the Canadian Pacific Resort (Dockside, Ucluelet, 800-663-7090, www.canadianprincess.com), a historic West Coast steamship moored in Ucluelet Harbor. Staterooms have berths and shared baths.
Driving: From the US, there are ferries from Seattle and Port Angeles to Victoria on Vancouver Island. From there, it’s a four- to five-hour drive, depending on how long you stop in beautiful Cathedral Grove, home to some of the oldest fir trees on the continent.There are ferries from both the Tsawassen and Horseshoe Bay Terminals on the British Columbia mainland, both taking about two hours to reach Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. From there, it’s about a three-hour drive to Tofino.
BC Ferries BC Mainland to Nanaimo, www.bcferries.com
Washington State Ferries www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries
Victoria Clipper from Seattle, www.clippervacations.com
Flying to Tofino Long Beach Airport:
Orca Airways from Vancouver and Victoria, www.flyorcaair.com
Kenmore Air from Seattle, WA, www.kenmoreair.com
Tofino Air from Vancouver & Sechelt, www.tofinoair.ca
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
Tofino Botanical Gardens www.tbgf.org/gardens/
Tofino-Ucluelet Culinary Guild (TUCG) www.tucg.ca
Ucluelet www.ucluelet.travel, www.ucluelet.ca
Wild Pacific Trail