Tofino is British Columbia’s not so hidden gem and was on my bucketlist for a super long time! Located on the western edge of Vancover Island, Tofino has the beach town vibe while being immersed next to a rainforest. Traveling during the times of COVID can be stressful and unclear, facilities might be closed or you need to reserve ahead. So I thought I’ll share a list of things to do in Tofino in summer 2020 taking into account COVID precautions as I went in June!
The iconic Tofino experience that I imagine in my head was always surfing among the old growth trees and jagged coastline. I’m super glad I booked a surfing lesson while in Tofino and I would highly recommend it! Most surfing lessons are available now as of July 2020. As the activity takes place outdoor and you’ve got a surfboard, it’s easy to social distance! I went with Tofino Surf Adventures and it costs $80 per person. All equipment rentals are included!
I was quite scared that the Pacific water will be freezing. But with the wetsuit on, I couldn’t feel a thing. I booked for a group lesson on a Tuesday afternoon, and it turned into a private outing as we were the only guests! The waves were quite gentle and it’s perfect for beginners. You’ll definitely want to know how to swim to feel comfortable in the water, but I went quite far out and the water was still only to my chest.
If you are already experienced, you can easily find board and wetsuit rentals in Tofino.
- Pacific Surf School – $89/pax
- Surf Sisters – $99/pax
- Swell Tofino – $89/pax
- Tofino Paddle Surf – $90/pax
- Tofino Surf School – $80/pax
#2 Fine Dining
It might be a bit daunting to dine out these days but I find that restaurants have all taken great precautions. Most of them have reduced their capacity by 50%, so there is an empty table in between each set of guests. During COVID, it’ll be very important for you to make reservations as the restaurants have such limited seating! We went for a nice night out at Pluvio in Ucluelet and I was blown away by the food and service!
For such a remote small town, there are a lot of options for good food! I like that many restaurants also try to focus on local ingredients. At Pluvio, we had the 3 course menu for $78 per person and every course was delicious! The presentation of the dishes were fabulous too!
Other Fine Dining Restaurants:
#3 Tacofino Food Truck
On the other side of the dining spectrum, you have to visit the original Tacofino Food Truck. They have safety procedures set up for Covid and there’s a large waiting area where people keep their distance. I believe there used to be benches outside of the truck but that’s gone now. Since it’s take out, you can pick wherever you’d like to go to enjoy the tacos. I took it out to Long Beach to enjoy!
I highly recommend the tuna taco! The flavors were out of this world. I didn’t think the prices were cheap at all but it was worth it for the experience.
#4 Walk the Wild Pacific Trail
I stayed in Ucluelet so the Wild Pacific Trail was right next door to my AirBnB. But even if you are staying in Tofino, I think this trail is worth the drive! For COVID precautions, the trail is labeled as a one way loop so follow the signs.
Along the trail, there are countless pull outs for stunning views. The lighthouse loop is an easy walk with several different sights to see. As you walk, you’ll likely hear a muted siren sound. Without knowing, I thought it was the sound of a crying whale. But you should find out what the sound is by visiting the trail and reading the signs!
#5 Visit all the Beaches
Tofino is blessed with several sandy beaches along the coastline. It’s very easy to find a piece of real estate all to yourself. There are no services though so come prepared with your own food, drinks, and seating. The most famous beach is Chesterman Beach. I also quite enjoyed Long Beach which stretches for 16km and lives up to its name.
- Cox Bay Beach
- Mackenzie Beach
- Wickaninnish Beach
#6 Beers on the Patio
After a sunny day of walking around or catching a wave, the best spot to cool down is at Tofino Brewing. They have really interesting flavors and the classics are done well too! I bought a case of the Kelp Stout and some glassware as souvenir.
The patio seating is already spread far apart for social distancing. If you can’t find a seat, you can always purchase some beers to go and enjoy it at a park or beach.
I had a really enjoyable time in Tofino even with all the additional Covid rules. Businesses seem to be up and running and people are respectful of social distancing rules. Although I’m disappointed I can’t hit up international destinations, I’m glad I finally got to check Tofino off the bucketlist and it definitely lived up to its expectations! I’d highly recommend you to visit Tofino this summer as it’s the closest thing to a tropical beach vacation in BC.