Trip 230 - September 1, 2021 (Wednesday)
Tofino BC Visit
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Liked: Harbour/ocean/mountain views, interesting buildings, interesting garbage cans, quirky town feel.
Of Note: Tsunami hazard zone - head to higher ground upon hearing tsunami sirens. Parking could be an issue.
Vancouver Island Backroad Mapbook (9th edition) Tofino Coordinates: Page 14 (Tofino) C4.
The town of Tofino with all of its (give or take) 2,000 residents is located on the West coast of Vancouver Island, pretty much in the middle. It's very far from any city of substantial size, that being Port Alberni, 2 hours and 120 kilometers to the East via Highway 4. Another hour and 85 kilometers are needed to reach an even larger city of Nanaimo, which has several ferry terminals connecting Vancouver Island to mainland British Columbia.
Tofino is know for its surfing, with Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and all of its beaches (especially an enormous Long Beach) being just a few minutes away from the town, also along Highway 4. Today, we walked around downtown Tofino, where the majority of its attractions are located.
For those folks who are interested in camping in their vehicle, it's going to be complicated, as forest service roads are pretty far from Tofino, and there are dozens of others who want to camp there too. Camping on Tofino streets is not allowed. Overnighting on any of the Pacific Rim Park's lots is also a no go. So, it's either one of the fee-based campgrounds in the Tofino area, or a motel/hotel, or a pretty long drive to the nearest FSR.
We visited Tofino many years ago, and don't remember much about that visit. This time, Tofino pleasantly surprised with being a middle- to even upscale resort location, with a quirky feel, with numerous fine ocean/harbour/mountain vistas, with many very interesting-looking buildings. The only issue of note is that Tofino is very small and very popular, so parking could be an issue, especially in a larger RV. Numerous signs prohibit parking of RVs or trailers. It's a good idea to have a campground reservation before arriving to Tofino, park there, and then just walk to all of the attractions, which should not be too far.
There appears to be only one public washroom in Tofino downtown, and it's pretty easy to find - it's located in a park on Campbell Avenue (the continuation of Pacific Rim Highway / Hwy 4) between 3rd and 2nd Streets (closer to 2nd Street).
1. We are on Highway 4 (Pacific Rim Highway), entering the town of Tofino.
2. Just behind the sign seen in the photo above, there is Tourism Tofino Info Centre. Parking is limited to 20 minutes, just to show you how popular this place is (we can't recall any other info centres in BC having such a short parking time limit). The only city bus (electric too) stops here before going around its Tofino route. A cool garbage can is located next to the Info Centre.
3-5. Here is a map of Tofino, courtesy of the Info Centre. Bottom to top.
6. Here is our Tofino route. Red square - parking and starting point on Gibson Street, then follow the red line. Blue square - approximate end of the walk, then return to the parking point. We parked on Gibson Street, turned left onto Pacific Rim Hwy / Campbell St, reached Fourth Street, turned right, then left onto Main Street (where the majority of fine harbour views can be found), then turned right and went to the foot of First Street with its dock/pier (Tofino Air dock is there too), then back to Main Street, where we turned right and ended up on West Street (with very peculiar-looking structures - shown on Page 2), then back on Main Street to First Street again, then up First St to Tofino General Hospital, then left onto Neill Street, left onto Third Street, and left onto Campbell Avenue.
7. Here we are on Pacific Rim Highway, with Gibson Street being to the left. It was fairly easy to find parking on Gibson Street, after circling around the downtown for several minutes. Parking was still restricted to 4 hours between 10 AM and 4 PM. A bit further down Gibson Street, past Fourth Street, there is a small park with lots of parking, and no time limit signs.
8. Having parked on Gibson Street, we walked back to Pacific Rim Highway, and there it was, Tofino's only bus. Electric too.
9. Very soon after turning left onto Pacific Rim Highway, there was Jamie's Whaling Station (whale watch tours, etc), with a whale tail sticking out of the ground.
10. Shortly thereafter, an alley led to one f the harbour access points.
Just past the big green tree seen in the photo above, we have stopped and observed a group of kayakers stretching a few hundred meters away. Then, Atleo River Air Service seaplane flew nearby preparing to land.
Here is our video of the kayakers and the seaplane.
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11. Another interesting building on what is now Campbell Street is Tofino Motel.
12. We then turned right onto Fourth Street.
13. Parking restrictions are everywhere in downtown Tofino.
14. Now turning left from Fourth Street onto Main Street. The most picturesque part of our walk is about to begin.
15. The view from Main Street soon after the turn.
16-17. Further down Main Street, at the foot of Third Street, there is an anchor and a totem pole.
18. And a nice view too.
19. Moving along on Main Street, there is a small lane right at the Seaplanes Helicopters sign, called Wingen Lane. There is no sign with the lane name that we could see, but Google Maps has it listed as such.
20-21. Here is that lane.
22. At the end of the walkway there is a dock with boats and a seaplane.
23. The seaplane is likely the same Atleo River Air Service plane from the video above.
24. The Inn at Tough City (Toughino?) is located at the corner of Main Street and Wharf Street.
25. Tofino garbage cans can really give their Port Alberni counterparts a run for their money. Very neat. Corner of Main Street and First Street.
26. Just behind the otter garbage can is this fine-looking House of Himwitsa Native Art Gallery.
27. Now on First Street, with Main Street just to our right. See the yellow building far ahead?
28-29. That's Tofino Air office building, with a cute business sign on the wall.
30. There is a dock/pier at the foot of First Avenue past Tofino Air office.
31. A fine view to the right.
32-33. And here are Tofino Air seaplanes.
34. It's a fairly large pier. Vehicles are allowed, so watch out for traffic.
35. Another good view from the pier.
36. This biker from Quebec asked us to take his picture on his phone. He sure looked good in the biker gear on this white motorcycle with a backdrop of blue ocean, green trees, and mountains. Also, we were surprised to hear a lot of French on the streets of Tofino. You may spend days in the Lower Mainland without hearing any French, and here, within several hours, we walked by three different French-speaking groups.
Our Tofino BC visit Continues on Page 2.
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