Vancouver Island’s west coast surf town, Tofino, might be best visited in its off-season by university students and post-grads alike who are on a budget. Although the town is somewhat off the beaten path and found on Vancouver Island’s far west side, the four-hour trek from Nanaimo’s ferry terminal to Tofino itself is well worth the trip; Tofino’s off-season boasts the promise of extremely minimal crowds, cheap lodging rates, and a chance at quickly diminishing nasty winter woes.
Tofino feels somewhat more authentic in the winter months if only because of it’s massively reduced population. In the surf town’s peak season its population can surge from the normal year-round crowd of 2,000 to a wild 10,000 beach bums in a single afternoon; because Tofino’s population more than quadruples in size in the summertime lodging becomes extremely expensive and last-minute trips can seem almost impossible to lockdown.
With far fewer tourists throughout the city in the winter months, Tofino’s quirky and ever so quaint downtown organically becomes a sweet and discreet backdrop for visitors to explore while locals go about their daily duties in disguise. Most everything within the town’s hub is in walking distance making it practically effortless to pop into Tofino’s darling storefronts and clever eateries. Although there are minor closures of shops and otherwise summer-esque cafes and restaurants during the off-season, these closures seem ultimately inconsequential when getting to know the town.
Tofino’s coastal destination boasts all-season hiking due to boardwalks and rainforest cover to protect hikers from rain-soaked kits. Most trails sit far above sea level and offer opportunities for hidden beach access when tides are low, exposing tourists to the magic of Tofino’s natural environment. One trail in particular, Tonquin Trail, is within walking distance of the city’s centre. The 3km trail meanders through lush forests that lead visitors to some of Tofino’s most iconic beaches: Tonquin Beach, First Beach, Second Beach, and Third Beach. If you are lucky enough to catch the trail during low tide you can certainly expect to stumble upon copious amounts of muscles, clams, Tonquin purple starfish and some of the best views and beaches on the Island’s west coast.
Like most towns on the coast of British Columbia, rain can unexpectedly occur practically any day of the week. Rainless days in Tofino though are often soaked in sunshine, therefore allowing tourists of the coastal town ample opportunity to replenish their body’s vitamin D stores while visiting in the wintertime. Rain or shine though, no matter the brand of mischief or type of adventure you get up to while visiting the coastal town it is almost impossible to avoid the thought of making Tofino home.