On the wilder west side of the island, at the “end of the road,” the small, funky town of Tofino (pop. 2,000) is the surf capital of Canada and offers outdoor activities galore, including camping, hiking, kayaking, surfing, boogie boarding, fishing, and whale watching. Tofino is a busy summer destination, so be sure to book accommodations very early.
The winter season is quieter-and much wetter-and draws storm watchers and winter surfers, but we prefer a less rainy season for traveling with kids. You’ll have to decide (resort rates jump significantly in summer). But the beach is the thing here. Rent boogie boards or hire a guide to kayak Clayoquot Sound. Close to town, Chesterman Beach or McKenzie Beach offer calm water, tide pools and sand. For beach walking, head to Long Beach and Wickaninnish Beach in the Pacific Rim National Park south of Tofino. Hike the boardwalked Rain Forest Trails Loop A or B and visit the Kwisitis (formerly Wickaninnish) Visitor Centre perched above Wickaninnish Beach for a replica of a First Nations long house and interpretive trails.