One of our absolute favourite places in the world to visit is Tofino! So we packed up the car and headed over to the Island for a surprise family getaway for the boys! Here’s a recap of where we ate, stayed and played to help you make the most of your family vacay.
There is something so raw and majestic about Tofino – it’s a truly breathtaking place to visit. We went there last year as well, and I wrote this very detailed post on the trip. Located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Tofino is a small town that has earned world-class status. It was Max’s birthday and my cousin Sam’s wedding anniversary, so to celebrate we all headed up for a family adventure.
Getting to Tofino
If you’re driving from Kelowna it takes about 11 hours each way, including the ferry (make a reservation). We have had long recent debates over which ferry (from Vancouver to Vancouver Island) is quickest: Horseshoe Bay vs Tswassen. After a ‘race’ home (we each took different ferries home, no speeding involved), we concluded that they are about equal. Just in case you’ve debated the same!
While 11 hours may seem like a lot of travelling the time truly flies. Speaking of flying, you can alternately fly into Comox and rent a car if that’s more your jam. The road to Tofino from Nanaimo (about a 3-3.5 hour drive) is very twisty with a section of construction (plan on waiting), but so incredibly beautiful. Try stopping at Coombs Old Country Market for ice cream and to check out the goats on the roof or stop at Cathedral Grove (closed due to COVID when we went) for a scenic stroll through the temperate rainforest. There’s a 100% chance your blood pressure will drop and your worries will melt away when you’re on this side of the Island.
Where to Stay in Tofino
We rented an oceanfront suite at Pacific Sands Resort complete with a kitchen to do some of our own cooking. It was pretty darned amazing. I highly recommend reserving a townhouse if you get the chance. We stayed at the Wickanninish Inn last year and that was incredible too.
Surfing in Tofino
Charlie wanted to go surfing so we hooked up with Surf Sister surfing school and Charles and Charlie took lessons – they were awesome, I can’t recommend them enough (also located right on site at Pacific Sands which was handy!). The ocean is COLD but they give you wetsuits that work some magic.
Where to Eat in Tofino
We mostly ate in our rooms this time (unlike last time where we ate EVERYWHERE), and did a BIG seafood bake one night with the local fresh seafood including crabs, spot prawns and scallops. We just laid it all out on top of a paper-lined table (just like in our cookbook) and dug in with heaps of corn on the cob, garlic bread, Caesar salad and boiled baby potatoes. YUM. There is a local grocery store in town where you can purchase all the food you will need.
As far as restaurants go, we ended up eating most of our restaurant meals at the Surfside Grill which is a little takeout restaurant in the resort. It didn’t disappoint! I ate fish tacos every single day (try the spot prawn version if you can) and literally everything on the menu was top notch and super fresh. The owner Jeff either catches everything himself or buys it off of his fishermen friends: it’s such an intimate food culture here, I just love it. Of course, no trip to the Island is complete without a visit to Tacofino. It’s worth the line up, I promise.
You may want to consider bringing in some of your own groceries to ease the burden on the local food supply if you have access to a kitchen. It was suggested to me by a local, and I thought it would be helpful to share this to help the locals out!
Where to Shop in Tofino
There are so many cute little shops in Tofino but two of them stand out to me. The first is called Merge, and is tucked away in a back alley. It’s adorable and pink and filled with hand made local creations that are totally stunning! If you’re looking for souvenirs check out Salt – they have the most adorable items – you will love that place!
Capturing Tofino Memories
To capture the memories we booked a photo session with Jen from Flytographer (she took the pictures last year too). They are so precious! If you choose to book a session with them (they are all over the world and will capture your own ‘staycation’ too), use the code FRAICHE50 to get $50 off your shoot.
If you’re looking for other Tofino activities along with a more expanded restaurant list and what to pack, check out this blog post!