Trip and Wellness

7 Best Beaches in Tofino You Need to Visit this Summer!

7 Best Beaches in Tofino You Need to Visit this Summer

Tofino boasts the best beaches in Canada, serving as a primary attraction for visitors. Stretching across wide expanses of sand along the Pacific Ocean, these beaches captivate surfers and vacationers year-round. Each beach possesses a unique character, influenced by the day and time of year, with Tofino’s coastlines varying between rough and stormy, calm, and tranquil, rainy, foggy, or windblown and secluded. These fluctuations are dictated by the whims of the Pacific Ocean, an immense body of water extending uninterrupted from Tofino to Japan.

Accessible with ease, these beautiful sandy stretches often require just a simple car park and a 100-meter (or less) walk. Tofino’s beaches offer a plethora of activities, including surfing, swimming, romantic walks, biking, shell hunting, playing with your dog, or simply relaxing and gazing out at the waves.

For an immersive experience of the area, consider staying at a waterfront resort or lodge. This allows you to witness the beach’s transformation throughout the day, from sunrise to sunset. Explore the top beaches in Tofino with our curated list to make the most of your visit.

1. Cox Bay Beach

Cox Bay Beach
Cox Bay Beach/ @istockphoto

Cox Bay stands out as one of the most vibrant stretches of beach near Tofino. This beach is flanked by several top resorts in Tofino and a recently established campground, offering guests the advantage of waterfront locations.

Surfers are drawn to this beach due to the narrow opening of Cox Bay, which enhances the size of the ocean rollers. Even if you are not a fan of watersports, sitting back and observing the ceaseless action of the waves makes it an enjoyable beach experience.

The beach boasts convenient services. If you are interested in learning to surf, the surf school at the Pacific Sands Beach Resort complex provides surfboard rentals and instruction. If you are not in the mood to cook, you can enjoy a picturesque sunset dinner at the Great Room in Long Beach Lodge or dine at the Sandbar bistro. If you have had enough of tent life, consider checking into Cox Bay Beach Resort, where you can settle into a comfortable bed for the night.

At the south end of the beach, a rocky headland offers intriguing exploration opportunities during low tide. Photographers will appreciate capturing sunsets over Frank Island, whether from the beach or the area near the benches on Sunset Point at the north end of the beach.

2. Chesterman Beach

Chesterman Beach
Chesterman Beach

Due to its excellent waves, Chesterman Beach is among the most popular beaches in Tofino, offering a lively atmosphere just beyond the headland south of MacKenzie Beach. As the closest beach to Tofino (excluding Tonquin Beach in town), it attracts both locals and guests staying in hotels situated off the beach, typically bustling with families and groups.

Chesterman Beach is commonly divided into North Chesterman and South Chesterman, forming a distinctive “A” shape with Frank Island at the point. Accessible only during low tide, a sandy land bridge emerges, allowing visitors to reach the island. This area also features intriguing tidal pools. Many opt for this beach as their main destination because no park pass is required, and parking is complimentary.

The back of the beach is predominantly lined with private residences, some of which operate as bed and breakfasts. At the far northern end stands the upscale Wickaninnish Inn, despite its name not being situated on Wickaninnish Beach, which is located several kilometers south of this location.

3. Wickaninnish Beach

Wickaninnish Beach
Wickaninnish Beach

Wickaninnish Beach stretches out as a wild expanse with windswept shorelines, situated at the southern end of Long Beach. Offering a distinct perspective of Tofino’s most renowned beach, Wickaninnish presents a rugged shoreline adorned with small bushes shaped by the relentless winds. The back of the beach is adorned with an impressive collection of driftwood and large logs.

For those seeking solitude, a stroll northward ensures your sole companions are the crashing waves, the wind, and perhaps a passing sea lion if you are fortunate. Despite some surfers venturing here, the ocean can be treacherous, with strong rip currents being commonplace, and the jagged, deadly rocks at the southern end.

At the more frequented south end of the beach lies the Kwisitis Visitor Centre. Positioned perfectly on a peninsula, this distinguished heritage building is a rich source of information on the ocean, the surrounding areas, and First Nations. To enjoy breathtaking views up and down the coast, step onto the patio extending over the rocks. Parks Canada has extensive renovation and upgrades planned for the Kwisitis Visitor Centre.

4. Tonquin Beach

Tonquin Beach
Tonquin Beach/ @istockphoto

If you’re staying in town and longing for a bit of beach time, take a brief stroll through the rainforest to reach Tonquin Beach. While it holds the title of being the smallest beach in the region, Tonquin more than compensates for its size with its captivating beauty.

Spanning across two coves with steep, rocky backdrops and a small island nestled in between, Tonquin is undeniably stunning. Small ravines extending from the beach offer opportunities for exploration and the capture of unique photos. The views from the beach encompass Wickaninnish Island and the vast expanse of the Pacific.

If you are inclined to take a swim or simply want to dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean for the experience, Tonquin is the ideal place. Positioned on a channel, the beach experiences minimal waves and boasts crystal-clear water, creating a perfect environment for wading. It’s advisable to visit during or around low tide to fully appreciate the scenery.

Two trails lead to Tonquin Beach: one departs from the community center at the end of Arnet Road, providing a longer route but better chances of finding parking. The other trail starts from the parking lot at the end of Tonquin Park Road and is more direct. Both trails feature stairs and boardwalks, are well-maintained, and are suitable for all visitors.

5. Mackenzie Beach

Mackenzie Beach
Mackenzie Beach

Mackenzie Beach, though one of the smaller coastlines, stands out as one of the calmest and most pleasurable spots along the coast. Protected by offshore islands, it’s not a popular destination for surfing, but smaller waves make it a suitable place for water recreation.

Unique headlands adorn both ends of the beach. During low tide, the southern end connects with the offshore island, creating a temporary walkway sheltered from the wind and providing an intriguing area to explore.

Mackenzie Beach serves as an excellent location for photography, with a variety of offshore islands offering captivating subjects against the expansive ocean and sky backgrounds.

Numerous hotels grace the beach, providing convenient access to the water. The Best Western Plus Tin-Wis Resort, located along the beach, facilitates arrangements for various services, including surfboard rentals, lessons, and bike rentals. A short stroll inland from the southern end of the beach leads to a retail area off the main highway, offering food trucks, a chocolate shop, cafés, and other amenities.

6. Schooner Beach

Schooner Beach
Schooner Beach

Every beach in Tofino possesses its unique splendor, and Schooner Beach is certainly no exception to this enchanting rule. Nestled in Schooner Bay, this beach forms a lengthy arc of flat brown sand, adorned with a few small islands along the shore and the larger Box Island just offshore.

Once a bustling destination due to the popularity of the Schooner Cove Trail leading through the Old Growth Forest to the seashore, the trail has remained closed for many years with no confirmed reopening date. Consequently, the beach is typically devoid of visitors, offering a secluded haven for those seeking solitude without an extensive drive from Tofino.

The shoreline is embellished with extensive piles of driftwood, perfect for discovering the ideal walking stick or souvenir piece. The rocky islands along the shore serve as habitats for various marine creatures, providing ample opportunities for exploration, whether by children or those young at heart.

Tofino’s beaches are often windy, but if such conditions prevail during your visit, Schooner Beach is an excellent choice. Its location provides relative protection from the prevailing breezes.

It’s important to note that due to the trail closure, Schooner Beach can only be accessed when the tide is out. Visitors will need to walk from the northern end of Long Beach around a point to reach the beach.

7. Florencia Bay Beach

Florencia Bay Beach
Florencia Bay Beach

Getting to Florencia Bay demands a bit of effort, but once you arrive, you will appreciate the journey. Accessed through a narrow road, a brief trail, and a set of steep stairs, this beach offers a distinctive ambiance compared to others. Devoid of resorts or homes lining its shores, and with a steep shoreline bordered by large trees, it exudes a raw, untouched atmosphere.

Florencia Bay serves more as a locals’ beach hideout than a bustling tourist destination, possibly due to its off-the-beaten-track location. Consequently, the atmosphere here is remarkably relaxed and tranquil. Groups of people can be seen amidst the driftwood, catching up on local gossip while keeping an eye on the surf for the next set of big rollers.

Don’t forget your camera; this is also a prime spot to witness some of the finest local surfers riding the substantial waves past the river mouth at the south end of the beach. While the beach is perfect for a leisurely walk, be mindful that heading south may involve fording a relatively large stream that crosses the beach.


Q: Are Tofino’s beaches suitable for beginner surfers?

A: Yes, Tofino’s surfing culture caters to all skill levels, including beginners. Surf schools provide lessons and equipment rental.

Q: Can I spot wildlife easily on Tofino’s beaches?

A: Wildlife sightings are common, including eagles, sea otters, and seals. Patience and respectful observation enhance your chances.

Q: Are there facilities for picnics on Tofino’s beaches?

A: Many beaches have picnic areas, and local eateries offer delicious options for beachside dining.

Q: How can I access Hot Springs Cove?

A: Hot Springs Cove is accessible by boat or plane. Tour operators in Tofino offer guided trips to this remote destination.

Q: Is camping allowed on Vargas Island?

A: Yes, Vargas Island allows wilderness camping. Be sure to follow Leave No Trace principles for a minimal impact on the environment.