Tofino in Clayoquot Sound is considered by many to be the highlight of West Vancouver Island. This delightful town is full of great restaurants, boutiques, art galleries, recreational opportunities, and a playground for both the young and older generations.
The young come to Tofino to surf the beautiful beaches in the area. There are four surf shops in town, and there’s even a Surf Report for Chesterman Beach and Cox Bay Beach. Other beaches near town include MacKenzie, Middle, and Tonquin beaches (Tonquin being the closest to town), all accessible by Tofino Transit Bus Service.
Exploring Meares Island
Boaters who are nature lovers can take their dinghy (or ride the water taxi from Tofino) to nearby Meares Island and hike the Big Trees Trail where you can see giant spruce, hemlock, and western cedar trees that are between 1,000 and 1,500 years old. The largest tree is known as “the Hanging Garden.” A $5 fee is collected by a guardian on duty; fees help maintain the boardwalk and dirt trails.
“The Hanging Garden” at Big Trees Trail on Meares Island.
Another option by dinghy, or water taxi, is a visit to the First Nations village of Opitsaht on the southwest end of Mears Island; it’s reported to be the oldest, continuously run Native village. A campground and hostel above the beach at Opitsaht is a starting point for the popular Lone Cone Trail to the summit of Lone Mountain. For an easier hike, you can visit the Tofino Botanical Gardens on the east side of town in Tofino with 12 acres of gardens, forest, and shoreline. The network of paths and boardwalks is the site of the historic Bernardo O’Higgins homestead.