The Tofino Guide to Winter
To many, it’s Tofino’s most alluring season, filled with surf, storms and way, way less crowds. We present the Tofino Resort + Marina guide to doing Tofino correctly in the winter.
Sitting on a Rock in the Spray
Stormwatching is all the rage, eh
Decades ago, you’d be hard-pressed to convince a visitor from Vancouver or California to sit in the rain and tumultuous wind to watch waves break. Perhaps it’s a yearning to shut down the damn Facebook, turn off the cell phone and find a new connection to nature, but people now specifically and happily come to the west coast of Vancouver Island to sit and take in the majesty of the Pacific Ocean absolutely crushing the shoreline.
It’s actually a pretty rad time. Watch sea lions navigate the crazy surf with ease. Feel the salty spindrift whip across your face. Listen to the thundering boom of waves brought from far across the ocean, pent-up energy travelling thousands of kilometres only to entertain the likes of you, puny human. The most entertaining part? Inhaling great food and sinking cold pints of beer in the cozy pub afterwards, telling people you’ve “earned this.”
The Surfing Is Better…For Real
Bigger swell and less crowds
Sunny beaches, board shorts and bikinis are for landlubbers. Real surfers know winter is the true time to surf. There’s no swimwear here, only naked, strong bodies inside six millimetre-thick wetsuits. Sure, it’s colder, but it’s also real surf, not whitewash. When you see photos of Canada’s surfers, look for the clues: snow on the mountains in the background, thick hoods, and big, clean waves…the kind of waves that only happen in winter.
Adventure isn’t meant to come easy. It’s meant to be insanely rewarding because it’s challenging. So, whether you’re an old salty pro or a rookie who wants to move beyond the sunny day clichés, come out in the winter and try out Canada’s most famous surf. Only once you’ve paddled out in a proper winter swell can you claim the title of surfer, anyway. Sorry, that’s just real talk.
Surf reports here.
Surf Rentals: Storm Surf Shop, Pacific Surf Company, Long Beach Surf Shop (next door to our resort)
Good post-surf food and drink here.
Soak Up The Geothermal Love
Hot Springs Cove is for lovers
Hot tubs are gross, right? All that dude soup and boozy frat boy partying going on, and then the chemicals needed to keep it clean. Nasty stuff. We prefer the glorious geothermal hot tubs that Mother Nature provides. At Tofino Resort + Marina, we fire up the big comfy charter boat every day for the sole purpose of taking natural hot springs lovers to the best dang spot in Clayoquot Sound: Hot Springs Cove.
Whether by boat or plane—cause we do that too, player—the trip to and from Hot Springs Cove is like a Greatest Hits of the West Coast. You’ll see cute little islets, and giant foreboding mountains. Pass by floating sea otters (they’re called a “raft”) and big ol’ stinky sea lions barking and howling. Maybe spot a whale or two. Once you arrive, it’s a gentle, invigorating walk on an elevated cedar boardwalk through an old growth rainforest. The trail pops out to a stunning rocky outcropping, complete with natural hot springs unpolluted by chlorine. The waves splash against the shore not far away, and the world is as it should be…natural.
Hot Springs Cove trips—and other Tofino Tours—can be booked through our Adventure Centre.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Tofino’s emerging culinary scene is simply delectable
We get it. Not everyone likes to go surfing, hiking, or adventuring around like Johnny GORE-TEX and his band of merry outdoor nerds. Some of us just like to eat good food and talk smack about those kind of people. Who do they think they are anyway, with their six pack abs and voluminous lung capacity? Good news for you—Tofino has a simply delicious array of options to sit down and get glutinous…within moderation, of course. Ahhh, who are we kidding? Moderation is for suckers.
At 1909 Kitchen, the name of the game is an “ingredient driven menu, sourced and foraged from Tofino’s oceans, shoreline and forests.” But that’s just marketing buzzwords written by a nerdy copywriter. Let’s talk real—this waterfront restaurant is the kind of place where you point your fork at your plate emphatically and hold your face in disbelief while muffling “THIS IS SO DAMN GOOD” loudly to your friends, and that’s only after the first bite. It’s the kind of place where you order more wine than you should and say “Ahhhh, eff the budget. You only live once, right?” It’s. That. Damn. Tasty.
Executive Chef Paul Moran won a bunch of awards and cooked in some of the best kitchens on the world…we can’t remember what they were right now because that doesn’t matter to most people. What matters is taste, and Moran’s food is downright ball-busting, lip-smacking, little-bit-of-drool-on-your-chin, lust-filled culinary perfection. Eat here, or go home and regret when Greg, your office mate, asks if “you made it to 1909?” If you say no, he’ll laugh at you, especially if he’s one of those snobby foodie types (they LOVE this place). If you say yes, you can tell him to shut up. It’ll feel awesome.
Your move, bud.
Eat at 1909’s less refined but ruggedly-handsome neighbour, The Hatch Waterfront Pub
Smash pints at Tofino Brewing Company
Responsibly sip liquor at Tofino Distillery
Hang out with the Creative Types
Art + Tofino + Wandering
Coastal towns Like Tofino attract creative people. Maybe it’s because they are inspired by the rugged coastline and vibrant wildlife viewing? Maybe it’s because they can work unhindered by the urban sprawl? Whatever it is, Tofino is home to many artists, and their galleries are almost all accessible by walking from Tofino Resort + Marina. A walking tour of downtown is incomplete without a visit to these galleries, or—HINT ALERT—Wolf in the Fog for a meticulously crafted cocktail. You’re welcome.
Tofino’s most celebrated photographer, Koreski is The Man.
Mark Hobson Gallery
Painter Mark Hobson has lived in Tofino for over 30 years. His work is
Perhaps Canada’s most acclaimed First Nations artist, this gallery has been a mainstay in Tofino since the 80s. It’s still as relevant and mind-blowing as ever.
Also see our guide on Things To Do in Tofino for more adventure ideas when visiting.