Dinner with JulieJulie is the food and nutrition columnist for the Calgary Eyeopener on CBC Radio One and is the contributing food editor for the Globe and Mail.  She also writes cookbooks and is known for her food and recipe blog, dinnerwithjulie.com.  Mostly, she loves feeding people – as well as spending time in Tofino.


I’ve spent a lot of time in Tofino over the past two decades—with a home base (my parents’) for a while, I generally stayed for weeks at a time. Because of the frequency of my trips, a lot of people ask advice about where to go and what to eat while they’re there. Since most Tofino trips are contained to a few days or a weekend, here’s my condensed advice on how to best spend those few days—and mostly, what to eat after working up an appetite on the beach or in the surf, from the perspective of a perpetually hungry almost-insider.

When to visit:
All the time. The town is much busier in July and August, and it can be rainy over the winter, but Tofino storms are dramatic, stunning experiences. The Pacific Rim is beautiful regardless of what time of year you find yourself there.

Where to get coffee:
Let’s face it, coffee needs its own category—we often go grab a coffee to sip while wandering on a beach, contemplating the day. Tofino Coffee Roasting Co. has been around for some time, with new owner Jesse-Ray Laking taking over a couple years ago. They roast their own beans in a new space on Industrial Way (a hub for plenty of great Tofino eats), but also have a little cafe on the way into town, with baked goods by newly-opened Summit Bakery. Tofitian (beside Chocolate Tofino) is also a great spot, and the Driftwood Café on the beach level of the Wickaninnish Inn is stunning… the room itself as well as the view and the mountain of fresh pastries on offer on the glass-topped massive driftwood counter. You can sit inside, by the fireplace, or out on the (dog-friendly!) patio, overlooking Chesterman Beach. In town, there’s the Den on the main floor of Wolf in the Fog, and Rhino Coffee, where they also make their own doughnuts—maple bacon is among the most popular, but my favourite is the Josie Jelly, made with their own preserves and named after Tofino mayor Josie Osborne.

Which beaches to visit:
If you drive through town, you’ll wind up at Tonquin Park, where a five minute walk through the woods leads you to a beautiful, sandy little beach. No surfers here, but you may spot some people fishing off the rocks. Head back out on the main road and Chesterman Beach is probably the best-known in the area; the north end, home of the Wick, is one of my favourites. The south end (it’s connected—you can walk along the length of it, but there are parking lots on both ends) is our favourite at low tide, when you can walk around the point and discover all sorts of open-topped caves and tide pools. One beach over is Cox Bay, one of the best spots to go watch surfers. (And where we spotted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau surfing a few years ago!) MacKenzie Beach is protected, perfect for kids to splash about in shallow water. Further out in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Incinerator Rock, Long Beach and Florencia Bay are expansive, fine-sanded beaches all worth a visit. At Schooner Cove, boardwalks wind two kilometres through rainforest down to another stunner of a beach. (Note: it’s an easy walk, but there are plenty of stairs here.)

Credits: Driftwood Cafe by Ivan Hunter, @tofitian,  beach shots by Dinner with Julie



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