Tofino BC Surfing | Tourism Tofino

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    Jeremy Koreski Photography
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    Marnie Recker Photography
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    Jeremy Koreski
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    Jeremy Koreski
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    Kyler Vos - Queen of the Peak Surf Championship
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    Jeremy Koreski Photography
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    Courtesy: Outside Break

Surfing in Tofino BC

With 35 kilometres/22 miles of sandy, surf-able beaches and a cool, yet fairly constant year-round water temperature of 10°C/50°F, it’s no wonder Tofino BC has earned Canada’s Surf Capital status.

Escape to Canada’s Surf Capital

From beginners to seasoned pros, surfers of all levels enjoy epic waves on three main areas of Tofino’s rugged coastline: Chesterman Beach, Cox Bay and Long Beach.

Tofino Surf Season Events
Winter’s blustery swells and exhilarating storm surge delivers some of the best rides, attracting international surf talent vying for cash and prizes in headline events including October’s annual Queen of the Peak for women, and May’s Rip Curl Pro Tofino when men and women compete in the Canadian Surf Championships.

But the action is not only out on the ocean, it’s also on the beach with music, commentary, and plenty of wetsuit-free fun for spectators!

Tofino’s Surf History Runs Deep
Tofino’s unique surf culture emerged in the late 60s when surfers were drawn to the lively, beach-dwelling scene and dense wilderness on Tofino’s dramatic coastline. By 1968, a small surf school began operations on Long Beach and by 1971, the less nail-biting, newly paved Pacific Rim Highway 4 to Tofino attracted a wave of newcomers.

The word was out, and by the mid-70s Tofino was on the map as a year-round, virtually untouched surfer’s playground.

Today, some of the owners of Tofino’s surf schools are the children of these early surf explorers, whose storied past has earned a place in surfing history.

Ready to ride?
Certified instructors at Tofino’s surf schools offer lessons and surf camps for riders of all ages and abilities. From surf skills and ocean safety, to unspoken surf etiquette, choose from surf packages complete with equipment, wetsuits, and other recommended gear.

Our surf schools are also your best resource for advice on current conditions and where to ride the next wave during your stay.

But first, here’s more on Tofino’s surf beaches:

Chesterman Beach

Cox Bay

Long Beach

Chesterman Beach
Declared as having “one of the best beginner breaks in North America” by Outside Magazine, Chesterman Beach is one of Canada’s most popular beaches for learning how to surf. In addition to jaw-dropping views featuring picturesque Frank Island, its somewhat sheltered location offers ideal beginner conditions.

Getting there:
Chesterman Beach is also the most accessible at just 8 minutes from town, with ample parking and two surf options: South and North.

  • South Chesterman beach faces roughly south, so it is a good place to surf if there is a south swell and a northwest wind (the wind rarely arrives from due north). Access to this part of the beach is just off Pacific Rim Highway on Chesterman Beach Road. There is a convenient composting toilet facility in the parking lot.
  • North Chesterman beach faces roughly west, so is a good place to surf if the swell direction is west or northwest and the wind direction is southeast (the wind rarely arrives from due east). Access to North Chesterman is through a large parking lot on Lynn Road, with a new shower and toilet facility.

Some suffers refer to ‘Middle’ Chesterman as a geographic reference. This is accessed at the southern curve of Chesterman Beach Road and is the point where the sandspit (technically a ‘tombolo’) reaches out to Frank Island. This is a good place to get a strategic sense of the surfing conditions at South and North Chesterman.

Cox Bay
Spectacular Cox Bay is one of the most consistent surfing beaches, especially in the summer months. The beach faces west and picks up smaller summer swells that often elude North Chesterman.

Try this beach if the swell is small and from the west or northwest. Ideally, you’ll want a southeast wind or no wind, but both of these winds can be rare in the summer.

Getting there:
There are two access points to Cox Bay:

  • The first access is just south of the Cox Bay Visitor Centre – turn down Maltby Road, then left at the end of the short road into a parking lot. From the parking lot, go through the yellow gate down a short gravel trail through the forest to the beach. There is a composting toilet at the beach end of this trail.
  • The second access is at Cox Bay Beach Resort, across the road from the Cox Bay Visitor Centre. Park in the public parking lot and walk the short boardwalk trail to the beach. There are bathroom and shower facilities at the parking lot.

Pacific Sands Resort and Long Beach Lodge both have webcams overlooking Cox Bay. An easy way to pre-check the surf from your accommodation or mobile device!

Long Beach
Long Beach is Tofino’s – and arguably Canada’s – most famous beach. Located 25 minutes south of Tofino, it’s the largest and longest beach in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve with 16 km of pristine sand and waves suitable for all levels of surfers.

Most of Long Beach faces southwest, so you’ll do best here on a southwest swell with a northwest wind.

Getting there:
There are two parking lots that access Long Beach; both with bathrooms and shower facilities:

  • As you approach from Tofino, the first parking lot at Long Beach is signed “Incinerator Rock.”
  • In the summer months, it’s best to park in the second parking lot, signed simply “Long Beach.”

NOTE: Please read the signs posted at both parking lots about dangerous currents.

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