On the Drive to Tofino
Driving to Tofino? You’re in for a few treats on the winding road to Vancouver Island’s rugged west coast.
Click here for driving Directions to Tofino
Vancouver Island Attractions – Places to Visit
Once you have taken Exit 60 onto Highway 4 / Pacific Rim Highway, you will drive by some billboards and reach the first - and only traffic lights for some time, at the intersection of the Alberni Highway. Turn left and drive for around five minutes to the first point of interest on your right: Visit the charming Coombs Country Market, with its eye candy selection of baked goods, European food products, and wooden toys. The stars of the show, however, are the goats grazing on the market’s grass roof in the summer months.
Back on the road toward Tofino, you’ll be driving for around 18km, then right through scenic Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park, named for its stately Douglas Fir and Cedar trees. Here, you can stretch your legs with a short trail walk, and stretch your neck by looking far, far up!
Over the hills and westward bound is the forestry and commodity hub of Port Alberni, situated beneath snow-capped Mount Arrowsmith. This is the last city you will pass through before the drive to Tofino, and we recommend making any necessary stops here.
As you continue driving west, always on Highway 4 / Pacific Rim Highway, you will be approaching expansive Sproat Lake, a destination for vacationers - and for aviation buffs. If you turn left on Lakeshore Road, with another left on Bomber Base Road, this is where you will find the homebase and visitors centre for the Martin Mars Water Bombers, the world’s largest to fly operationally. Originally built for the U.S Navy during World War ll, these heavy-duty aircraft (with a 60,000 lb or 7,200 gallon payload) are now utilized to assist in international firefighting efforts.
From then on, the road will lead you through scenic vistas alongside trout-rich Taylor and Kennedy rivers. If you’re driving our way from April through October, you may even see some black bears along the side of the road. The temptation to stop and admire them is strong (we know, because the thrill never goes away!), and should you wish to stop, we recommend pulling over and staying in your vehicle without feeding or approaching these deceivingly cuddly-looking, yet wild animals.
Located around one hour east of (or in this case, before) Tofino, you will see clear roadside signage for WestCoast Wild Zipline , presenting a series of ziplines threading through old-growth forest and a breath-taking river canyon, all in the Ha’Uukmin Tribal Park.
Once you’ve reached what looks like the end of the road, that’s your cue to turn right for the 35 minute drive to Tofino. You’ll drive through the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, one of a few national parks in Canada without physical gates or booths at its entrance or exit. You’ll get your very first Tofino beach view as you drive downhill, past Long Beach. You will see signs for the Park’s beaches and trails, including the aforementioned Long Beach, Schooner Cove Trail and Radar Hill. At Long Beach, you will also pass the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations village of Esowista (approximate population: 160) and its new extension.
Once you’ve exited the Park, the Inn will only be a ten minute drive away - Drive safely, and we look forward to welcoming you, or welcoming you back, to the Wickaninnish Inn!