Tofino is a small, remote surf town on the west coast of Vancouver Island, surrounded one side by the thundering Pacific Ocean and an ancient rainforest on the other. Also called Canada's surf capital, Tofino is one of my favourite places in the world because it's filled with natural beauty and the locals here are laidback and unpretentious. It's generally a wet place with a mild climate but that doesn't stop Tofino from attracting surfers from all over the world. The dramatic beaches and the rugged beauty of the coastline are truly a sight to see.
Hands down, Tofino has got to be one of the most beautiful places on the Canadian Pacific Westcoast and the surfing here is awesome. In the summer Tofino comes alive with tourists looking to camp, hike, surf, and explore the nearby hot springs, but the pace of tourism slows down dramatically in the winter months. Although not many people come to Tofino in the winter months, they really should! It's my favourite time to visit.
I've been in Tofino both in the summer and in the winter, and I have to say that the winter season is way better! For starters, there's less people so the beaches become way less crowded, which makes surfing and beach-combing much more enjoyable. There's something absolutely magical about Tofino in the winter time. The rainy, grey gloominess is absolutely beautiful and the natural surroundings really come alive. The forests become so lush and green and the air in the winter is so deliciously fresh.
If you're concerned about surfing in the winter because the water is cold, don't be. The water is cold all year round. Tofino is generally a cold place all year (the summers aren't that hot), so it's recommended that you wear a wetsuit, gloves, and a hood all year long because the water is pretty cold. It really doesn't make a difference if you go surfing in the winter or the summer - honestly, the water temperature feels the same.
The best time of the year for surfing in Tofino is the winter season. Winter surfing in Tofino is absolutely exhilarating! It's really an experience like no other. In the winter months the surf is much better because the waves are larger and more powerful. Experienced surfers who know how to surf well absolutely love it. When you're a beginner though, navigating those waters can get a bit tricky...
The first time I surfed in Tofino, it was February and the waves were massive. Even though I stayed in the shallow end, I got absolutely trashed in the water at Cox Bay. I got caught in a riptide at one point (you can read about that experience here), and even though the experience was a bit scary, I had so much fun.
The best beaches for winter surfing in Tofino are Cox Bay, Chesterman Beach, and Long Beach. My personal favourite is a close tie between Cox Bay and Long Beach. Chesterman is the most popular beach for beginners who are learning how to surf, so if you're a beginner, that's a good place to try out.
I highly recommend visiting Tofino and surfing there when you get a chance. It's beautiful and just being there relaxes the soul in a way that I cannot articulate in words. You feel refreshed, invigorated, and alive. Surfing in Tofino is definitely something to check off on your bucket list.
* Note: All photos were taken at Cox Bay. A good place to heat up your limbs after your surfing session is Long Beach Lodge, which is located right on Cox Bay beach. Their hot tub and sauna are so awesome! In the winter months Long Beach Lodge offers discount rates on rooms for low rates. It's my favourite hotel in Tofino hands down.