It was that time again, the time to go on a little family adventure and this time we set our sights again on Tofino, British Columbia. We have been to Tofino two previous times as a family and my wife and I have visited numerous times before having children. It is a great place to relax and check out the rugged west coast of BC. Best of all is is not that far from where we live either.
Tofino is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island and it approximately a half-day journey from our home in White Rock. We typically sail from Tsawwassen to Duke Point in Nanaimo which is a 2-hour trip aboard BC Ferries. Then there is a drive from Nanaimo to Tofino which is approximately 3 hours without stops. We try and stop at least once with the kids though, usually either in Port Alberni or even at Sproat Lake for a stretch and bite to eat.
This trip, like our previous 2 family trips to Tofino, we stayed at Ocean Village Resort. Ocean Village Resort is situated on MacKenzie Beach and have iconic “beehive” construction. When we first stayed there we had one of their cabins at the back which was studio-style. This most recent trip and the previous one we booked into one of their 1-bedroom waterfront cabins. Each cabin/room offers private bathroom, full kitchen and living area. It is great for families! The other reason why we like going to Ocean Village Resort is that they have an indoor-heated pool and hot-tub, which is great when the weather is rainy and the kids needs something to do close to the cabin.
What We Do With Kids in Tofino
There are a ton of things to do with kids when you in the Tofino area and if you need more to do there is also Ucluelet too. Though for this particular trip we did not venture around as much but we all still had a lot of fun.
MacKenzie Beach is the beach that Ocean Village Resort sits on. It is also home to some other accommodations such as Crystal Cove, Best Western Tin Wis and Bella Pacifica Campground (where we have camped before) as well as a couple of other place.
It’s a large crescent shaped beach sheltered by a break and some other islands so the waves do not get to big, unless there is a big storm surge. A lot of people seem to SUP (stand up paddleboard) here as well as kids learning to body surf. It’s great for a walk along during low or high-tide too.
One thing that is pretty cool about Tofino, is that it within a Marine Fog zone, this means it usually is the only place in all of BC that does not have campfire bans in effect when other places of the province has them. It is also a place that even allows fires on the beach! Can’t say that really about the beaches in the Vancouver area eh?
Chesterman Beach is a fairly large beach with a tombolo (learned that term from my sister on our trip!) in the middle of it. We visited both ends of the beach this trip. Typically we park in the south lot off of Chesterman Beach Rd and head to the beach that way, but my sister introduced us to the northern parking lot on Lynn Rd that leads to the Wickaninnish Inn. Both parking lots have washrooms with separate changing rooms as Chesterman Beach is a popular surf beach.
Typically we walk out to Frank Island at a low-tide but we have found that all the kids want to do is play in the sand. So both trips to Chesterman we just played in the sand! It is also a good place to check out some of the surfers as well. There were dozens of them there when we were there, but they were a bit more south from the entrance than where the kids wanted to dig in the sand.
Long Beach and Pacific Rim National Park
No trip to Tofino is complete until you hang out at Long Beach. Long Beach is located within the Pacific Rim National Park and because of that you will need to pay for parking so don’t forget to bring some sort of payment like coin or credit card and be prepared to pay $9 for 4-hours. You can pay for a 24-hour pass or a multi-day pass as well if you want to visit Long Beach more than once during your stay.
Once at the beach you have a HUGE beach to check out. It is also a lot of fun when the tide is low to chance the incoming surf. To the north side of the beach is Incinerator Rock which is also pretty cool to check out. Though, during our visit the wave advisory was “Extreme” and there was no one in the water. Seems that during that day, people were at Chesterman Beach surfing.
Okay, so the Ucluelet Aquarium is not a part of Tofino but in Ucluelet and it is a 30 minute drive from Tofino. Highly recommend checking it out on a not-so-sunny day with the kids! There are admission fees for adults ($14) and children 4 and older ($7) which means kids under 3 are free! Now, it is not a big aquarium like Vancouver or others but there is enough to see and play with to entertain and educate kids for hours.
The kids loved looking at the big tanks which had fish, crabs, eels and if you’re lucky you might even get a glimpse of the Pacific Octopus they have.
The kids love checking all of it it out, but my favourite thing was playing with the various touch-pools they have. I learned during our visit that critters are only kept for 90 days and then they are returned to where they came from. Which means the displays are ever changing!
There you have it, some of the activities we get up to when we visit Tofino. Now, I know there are many, many other things to do with kids while in Tofino, but we typically the above activities. We typically cook our meals at the cabin, mainly because it saves money than eating out for lunch and dinner with the kids. When the kids are older, I would love to take them on a Whale Watching tour or even check out Hot Springs Cove but both of those trips will require them to be older I think or at least older so they can remember it well!
Have you ever been to Tofino? Have you taken kids? What is one thing you and your kids always do while in Tofino if you have been? Leave a comment below! I’d like to hear what you do! If you have never been to Tofino, what is one thing you would like to check out if you were to visit Tofino? Leave a comment below too!