Tofino Beaches

  • Romantic stroll on Chesterman BeachIvan Hunter for Wickaninnish Inn
  • Sunset after the stormAdrian Dorst for Wickaninnish inn
  • Sea Snail shell on the beachJohn Forde for The Whale Centre
  • Frank Island SunsetWickaninnish Inn
  • Ocean and tree off Chesterman BeachPeter Jackson for Wickaninnish Inn
  • Winter waves on Cox BayAdrian Dorst
  • This way to the...John Sherlock for Wickaninnish Inn

“Total physical and mental inertia are highly agreeable...a beach not only permits such inertia, but enforces it, thus neatly eliminating all problems of guilt. It is now the only place in our overly active world that does.”

- Economist John Kenneth Galbraith

Chesterman Beach, Tofino

In Tofino, there's a lot of beach to love, to walk, to surf - and to discover in your own way. Home to the Inn and to West Coast cedar homes, Chesterman Beach is a 2.7 kilometre/1.7 mile stretch of hard-packed white sand, its midpoint reaching out in a tombolo (or sandspit) which can be walked at low tide to rocky Frank Island. Watch for colourful sea stars on the tidal rocks, as well as for high tide, when the tombolo disappears from view, leaving any visitors to the Island right on the Island. Chesterman Beach is a well-liked destination for surfing, winter storm watching, sun tanning, beachcombing, biking, running, and if the wind conditions are just right, you may see kites being flown from the tombolo and even kite surfers. Even during the breeziest of summer days you will find that right in front of the Inn the southern exposure of this stretch of beach protects it and will keep you warm, perfect for reading or suntanning on our beach chairs. Stroll over to Henry Nolla's Carving Shed where an ongoing tradition of wood carving and artistry continues today. Enjoying glass of wine or latte on the Driftwood Café patio is a wonderful way to start or end your Chesterman Beach explorations. Despite its versatility for a number of leisurely pursuits, Chesterman Beach always seems to convey a sense of privacy and calm. 

To the immediate south of Chesterman Beach, Cox Bay's rolling waves are suited to experienced surfers, making it the site of frequent surf competitions. The good surf here is created by waves breaking off the reef near Lennard Island, recognizable by its iconic lighthouse.

MacKenzie Beach, north of the Inn (toward Tofino) is protected by the many offshore islands, making its tranquil waters a destination for multigenerational families, campers, some weddings, as well as a calmer spot for winter surfing.

Tonquin Beach, Tofino

Unique in location and character, Tonquin Beach is tucked away just past Tofino's town core. Access to this sandy Tofino beach is on a winding boardwalk, descending through old-growth forest to a partially-sheltered cove. The McDiarmid family owned the first house on Tonquin Beach after Dr. McDiarmid moved to Tofino in the mid 50's. This is where you can have a view of Wickaninnish Island, great sunsets, the comings and goings of boats, as well as the free spirited living for which Tofino is still known. Tonquin Beach is named after the ship that perished in this channel in 1811 - read more about the wreck of the Tonquin.

Long Beach, Tofino

Suitably-named Long Beach is the longest sandy beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and is located in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, where a park pass is easily purchased in its parking lots or visitor centres. It's a sight to behold, with a 10 kilometre / 6 mile expanse of soft and hard-packed sand, sun-bleached driftwood, and flotsam and jetsam carried in by the surf. Surfers will ride its waves, while shorebirds and the occasional whale can be viewed from this delightfully and romantically solitary beach.

Marine mist can contribute to this otherworldly ambiance year-round, especially in August when it typically rises by early afternoon. Walk Long Beach to the south, and peek over the rocky headlands at the sandy dunes of equally impressive Wickaninnish Beach. Walk north, passing the millennia-old First Nations reserve of Esowista toward the less traveled Schooner Cove beach. As always, we recommend walking the beach on a falling or low tide rather than high tide, particularly in winter storm season when powerful surging rogue waves can catch the uninitiated by surprise which, at best, can be an unpleasant and potentially dangerous experience.

There are even more beaches in Tofino and the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve for you to find and explore. Do not be surprised if you find that the roar of the waves, the salt in the air and the wind on your cheek stir your soul in ways that may truly inspire and surprise you.

 

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