Tofino BC Beaches | Tourism Tofino

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    Marnie Recker Photography
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    Landon Sveinson
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Tofino BC Beaches

With 35 kilometres/22 miles of spectacular shoreline, everyday is a day at the beach in Tofino. In fact, everything here revolves around beach-time. It’s a place to walk, run, surf, photograph, cycle, play, explore, picnic, storm watch, meet – or do nothing at all.

The Beach is Calling

Here’s the rundown on Tofino’s top beaches:

Chesterman Beach

Cox Bay

Long Beach

MacKenzie Beach

Wickanninish Beach

Chesterman Beach

This 2.7 kilometre/1.7 mile stretch of white sand paradise is the most popular beach destination for Tofino residents. Chesterman Beach is mainly residential, lined with lovely homes and bed and breakfasts, many constructed in a contemporary West Coast architectural style. You’ll find the Wickaninnish Inn on North Chesterman Beach.

Things to do on Chesterman Beach:

  • Explore tidepools at low tide with the kids at North Chesterman Beach to find seastars, anemones and umpteen marine lifeforms.
  • Drop by the Carving Shed by the Wickaninnish Inn, to watch friendly, talented wood carvers hone their art.
  • When the tombolo (sandspit) to Frank Island emerges at low tide, walk out for views of the entire beach with a snow-capped mountain backdrop.
  • Pull up a long on South Chesterman Beach and watch surf instructors teaching eager new surfers the basics of riding their first wave. Better yet, register with a Tofino surf school or your first lesson or bring your gear and surf this magnificent beach. More information on surfing Chesterman Beach.
  • Fly a kite!

Cox Bay

This 1.5 kilometre/.93 mile expanse offers a challenging surf break, family fun and even some solitude. Here, you'll find the long-established Pacific Sands Beach Resort, Long Beach Lodge, and Cox Bay Beach Resort.

Things to do on Cox Bay:

  • Pack up for a day of beach fun.
  • Watch for high-skill surfing on one of Tofino's most consistent surf breaks.
  • See how many sand dollars you can find. Note that while it can be tempting to bring them home, they’re best left in their natural habitat.
  • Keep an eye out for driftwood shelters, built by industrious beach lovers. Maybe build your own?
  • Wait for a low tide to explore the tidal caves at the northern tip of Cox Bay (to the right when facing the ocean). You may find barnacles, sea stars, and more marine treasures. Because there is the potential for ocean surges near the edge of these rocks, please supervise children at all times.

Long Beach

The aptly-named Long Beach is situated within Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Along with Florencia Bay, Wickaninnish, Combers and Schooner Cove beaches, it creates the longest sand dune on Vancouver Island stretching for over 16 kilometres/9.94 miles. In addition to a storied surf history, the driftwood bordering old growth forest adds to the mystical vibe here.

Things to do on Long Beach:

  • Walk and walk and walk all the way south (to the left when facing the ocean) to where rocky headlands mark the division between Long Beach and Wickaninnish Beach.
  • Walk north, past the First Nations beachfront community of Esowista, toward quiet Schooner Cove beach.
  • Climb up the giant tidal rock – Incinerator Rock – in front of the Incinerator Rock parking lot and enjoy the view.
  • With a keen eye, and a bit of luck, you may spot some Gray or Humpback whales in the distance.
  • Winter storm watching on Long Beach is a dramatic event as powerful tides flood the beach, changing its landscape daily.

MacKenzie Beach

The well-situated tidal rocks at MacKenzie Beach create a natural, sheltered oasis that allows only the gentlest of waves to ripple in. Located close to town, this beach is home to numerous resorts and campgrounds, yet it retains a calm nature.

Things to do on MacKenzie Beach

  • Try stand-up paddle boarding! The calm waters of MacKenzie Beach are perfectly suited to this more laid-back cousin of surfing.
  • Walk to the southern end of the beach (to the left when facing the ocean) where you'll find a rocky intertidal zone to discover.
  • Get a skimboard and ride away!
  • A great spot for children to build sand castles and enjoy running in and out of the water. As always, even on a calm beach, please attend to children at all times.

Wickaninnish Beach

Between the hundreds of weather-bleached driftwood on the edge of golden sand dunes and the ocean's powerful waves, prepare to be awestruck by this vast stretch of sand. Wickaninnish Beach is situated within Long Beach, in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

Things to do on Wickaninnish Beach:

  • Climb up the steps/ramp to the observation deck of the Kwisitis (formerly Wickaninnish) Visitor Centre for dramatic views of the horizon.
  • Pack a beach picnic and find your spot among the driftwood. Please note that the Kwisitis Visitor Centre no longer houses a restaurant.
  • Walk the length of this beach and have a look at the massive sand dunes above.
  • Head right around the Kwisitis Visitor Centre, past the totem pole. You'll be on the 1.5 kilometre (.93 mile) South Beach Trail to lovely South Beach and its pebbles rolling in the waves. Feel free to explore, but please watch for the waves breaking over the rocks.

NOTE: Be sure to check the tide guides before exploring Tofino’s beaches.

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