Tofino: British Columbia’s Not-so-Secret Beach Town

surfer on cox bay tofino bc

Cox Bay.

Tofino, BC is perched on the southwestern edge of Vancouver Island. When we first visited nearly 10 years ago, it was a sleepy surf town just beyond Pacific Rim National Park. Tofino also offers great hiking, kayaking and some of the freshest seafood anywhere. It’s an 8-hour trip by car and ferry from Seattle, so few Washington license plates were mixed in among the BC and Alberta ones. It was like our little secret. This month, Tofino’s Wolf in the Fog restaurant was written up in Bon Appetit. Between the write up and the growth that’s been happening in Tofino over the last year, the secret is out.

On our visit last week for Feast Tofino, one of the spring/summer food fests, there was new housing and business construction going in. The sleepy surf town isn’t so sleepy anymore. Late Spring is still our favorite time to go, though rain is usually in the forecast. A few sunny days typically slide in, and it’s fantastic to be able to walk out onto the beach in the early morning, joining a few early rising surfers, and mostly have the place to yourself.

wolf in the fog tofino bc

Wolf in the Fog’s bar just after opening on a Monday night.

Wolf in the Fog opened in 2014 and slowly but surely racked up accolades for Chef Nick Nutting’s local, seasonal cuisine, which is a completely different challenge in northern climes. Seafood figures prominently on the menu, but even non-pescatarians have plenty of options. We started with a nettle samosa and cornfried cod cheeks, and split a pork chop for two with pickled rhubarb and spring onions over a potato gratin. The accolades are well-deserved; it was probably the best meal of the trip.

wolf in the fog tofino bc

Wolf in the Fog’s double pork chop with pickled rhubarb and spring onions.

There are a couple of additional standout places that didn’t get mentioned in the Bon Appetit write up. Tofino also has fantastic Japanese food at Kuma, just across the street from Wolf in the Fog. Housed in the space that used to be Spotted Bear, Kuma offers real deal ramen and a mix of small and large plates to share, including chicken karaage, miso tofu and tuna tataki. Full menu is available here.

kuma tofino miso tofu

Kuma’s chicken karaage and miso tofu get a meal started right.

The Long Beach Lodge Resort‘s Great Room continues to turn out delicious fare. Under Chef Ian Riddick, the restaurant has really come into it own with West Coast-inspired menus, including après surf and happy hour. Breakfast is robust and includes housemade breads and pastries. They feature a daily pizza and beer special and an excellent happy hour. Whether it’s sunny or not, the Great Room has fantastic views of Cox Bay. The Sandbar Bistro, the Lodge’s beachfront patio, opened this past weekend for the summer season. Look for an updated menu here.

long beach lodge resort pizza

Long Beach Lodge Resort’s Calabrese pizza with calabrese salami, kalamata olives and a tomato sauce with a nice kick.

While we were in town, Feast Tofino was just getting underway and the Shorebird Festival was happening over the weekend. You can check Tourism Tofino for upcoming events.

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