Safety

Our coast is a place of sun and storms. While you’re here, prepare yourself as any Tofitian would by checking the weather conditions. This includes tides and wind, as the ocean is a powerful force. Learn how to be CoastSmart while you’re by the water to stay safe.

Emergency Services

Emergency Services

Call 9-1-1 for police, fire, ambulance, Search and Rescue, and Coast Guard services.

Read this information page on tsunamis + notification methods from the District of Tofino before your Tofino stay.

Non-Emergency Services

Tofino General Hospital
261 Neill Street (at First Street)
250.725.3212

Tonquin Medical Clinic (open Monday-Friday)
220 First Street
250.725.3282

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)
250 Lone Cone Road (temporary location)
250.725.3242

Entry Regulations – Passport and Visas

U.S. Citizens

If you’re a U.S. citizen, make sure you have a valid U.S. passport when traveling by plane. If you plan to re-enter the U.S. by boat or car instead, you must have a U.S. passport, passport card, NEXUS card, Enhanced Driver’s License or another Western Hemisphere Travel initiative-compliant document.

International Visitors

If you’re visiting from a country other than the United States, keep in mind you might require other documentation in addition to a valid passport, such as a travel visa. If you’re planning to enter Canada for an extended stay, for work or for certain types of business activities, additional regulations may apply as well. You can check with the nearest Canadian Consulate well before your trip to find out what is required.

For more information, consult the Canadian Border Services Agency or call us toll-free within Canada at 1.888.502.9060.

Language

While Canada is officially a bilingual country (French & English), Tofino is primarily an english-speaking town. You will see bilingual signage driving through Pacific Rim National Park Reserve as it is a federal institution. With Tofino situated in traditional Tla-o-qui-aht territory, some of our street signs have names in the Nuu-chah-nulth language.

Money + Banking

Credit + Debit Bank Cards

Credit card and debit card use is widespread throughout Vancouver Island and Tofino. VISA, Mastercard, and American Express are accepted at most Tofino shops and services as are bank debit cards.

Local Banks

C.I.B.C. (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce)
301 Campbell Street, Tofino (intersection of First Street)
V0R 2Z0
t.250.725.3321
Monday – Friday

Coastal Community Credit Union
368 Main Street, Tofino (located in The Shore building, water side)
V0R 2Z0
T.250.725.2366
Tuesday – Saturday

Currency + Taxes

Currency

The Canadian dollar is the currency of exchange. It is similar to American currency with coins including nickels (five cents), dimes (ten cents) and quarters (twenty-five cents.) Our one dollar coin is commonly referred to as a Loonie (for the embossed image of a Loon on one side) and the two dollar coin is called a Twoonie (or toonie.) Canadian currency also comes in bills of various denominations, all in different colours.

You will be able to exchange currency at a bank or credit union. Many restaurants, accommodation properties and shops will accept US dollars, but exchange rates will vary.

Taxes

Currently, the following tax rates apply:

  • 5% Goods & Services Tax (GST) levied by the federal government.
  • 7% Provincial Sales Tax (PST)  except on accommodation which is 8% PST,levied by the province.
  • 3% Municipal and Regional District Tax is charged on accommodations in Tofino with four or more rooms.

Taxes are generally not included on listed prices for goods or services.

Driving Laws

As in all of North America, we drive on the right-hand side of the road. We use the metric system for distances and speeds, in kilometres/hour rather than miles/hour. Visitors may drive in BC for a period of up to six months with a valid drivers’ license from another province, state or country. In BC, seat-belts and other safety devices such as child restraints are mandatory and must be worn when vehicles are in motion. Bicycle helmets and motorcycle helmets are required by law. It is prohibited to use cell phones or other handheld electronic devices while driving. Winter tires or/and chains are required by law from October 1 through March 31 on some mountain passes and highways in BC, including Highway 4/Pacific Rim Highway.

Liquor + Smoking Laws

The legal drinking age in BC is 19. Anyone under 19 is considered a minor and not permitted in drinking establishments and cannot purchase alcoholic beverages. Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and is strictly enforced.

Smoking is prohibited in all public buildings in British Columbia, including restaurants and bars. Please respect any posted signage while visiting the area. As of June 2018, smoking and vaping are prohibited within 6 metres of outdoor public places, including beaches and parks, in Tofino.

Fireworks

We love a good celebration but the calm of these surroundings makes Tofino the haven it is today.  Fireworks (which include display fireworks, pyrotechnic special effects fireworks and consumer fireworks like roman candles and pin wheels) and firecrackers are legally permitted only on these five dates, between the hours of 5:00pm and midnight:

January 1, July 1, July 4, October 31 and December 31.

Get the details of this local bylaw on the District of Tofino website.

Drones

Did you know that Tofino is a No Drone Zone? Due to our proximity to the Tofino Harbour Water Aerodrome and to the Tofino-Long Beach Airport (YAZ), drone use in the District of Tofino is restricted.  Here are the Transport Canada regulations.

Beach Fires

The crackling warmth of a beach fire is a quintessential part of the Tofino experience.  Here are rules to follow, as per the District of Tofino Outdoor Burning Bylaw, No.1071 :

  • Beach fires are permitted only at MacKenzie Beach and Chesterman Beach
  • Ensure that an adequate supply of water and all equipment needed to completely extinguish the fire is readily available on site,
  • Ensure that at all times the fire is supervised by a competent person of 16 years of age or older for the purposes of supervising, controlling, and extinguishing the fire,
  • Ensure that at all times the fire is kept under control,
  • Ensure that the fire is completely extinguished prior to leaving the fire unattended for any period of time;
  • Ensure that the fire does not burn between 11:00 pm and 6:00 am; and

Ensure that the fire is located:

i.)  within 40 meters of a location accessible to fire department equipment and vehicles; ii.)  at least 3 meters from any vegetation, beach material, buildings, structures, overhead wires, vehicles, or any other combustible materials.

It is prohibited to use driftwood.  Purchase your bundles of wood at campgrounds, gas stations and grocery stores.

Beach fires must be no larger than 2 feet wide and 2 feet high, set below the tide line.

Pack out all your things & your garbage 👍

Camping

Where can I camp for free?
There is no free camping in Tofino; however, Vargas Island does have free wilderness camping although visitors must take a water taxi to gain access to this area.

Which campgrounds have showers?
All the campgrounds in Tofino and Ucluelet have showers.

Which campgrounds have laundry facilities?
Crystal Cove Beach Resort in Tofino, MacKenzie Beach Resort & Bella Pacifica.

Where is there wilderness camping?
Wilderness camping is located on Vargas Island, Flores Island and Hot Springs. There is a charge for camping both at Hot Springs and at Flores. Camping on Vargas is free. To access these camping areas, visitors will need to go with either a whale watching company or the water taxi.

Where is the sani-dump?
The sani-station in Tofino is located at the Co-op gas station and the fee is a total of $5.60. If you also purchase gas, then the use of the sani-dump is free. Green Point campground in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve has one, reserved for on-site campers.

Electricity

Like the United States, Canada operates on 110V, 60 cycle electric power. We use a two- or three-pronged plug.  Visitors from outside North America should bring a plug adaptor if you are travelling with small appliances from home.

Water Conservation

Pure, fresh water is one of Tofino’s greatest and surprisingly limited natural assets.  You can help our community conserve with a few simple practices:

  • Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth
  • Take a short shower instead of a bath
  • Flush the toilet only when necessary
  • Make sure taps are fully off after use

Review the water conservation stages practiced in Tofino.
Print the 2019 Every Drop of Water Poster

Gratuities + Tipping

Much like the rest of Canada, tipping is standard practice in Tofino. Whether it’s your fishing charter guide or a great meal at a restaurant, we recommend tipping between 15-20% of the total cost. When service taxes are included, such as at a restaurant, calculate your tip based on the total amount before the taxes have been added. And of course, how much you choose to tip should also reflect the quality of service you receive.

Dogs on Leash

In Tofino:

As per District of Tofino bylaw, all dogs entering and within the Corporation of the District of Tofino shall be under the control of the owner or harbourer and be leashed, tethered or contained within a vehicle.

In Pacific Rim National Park Reserve:

Dogs are permitted in the Long Beach area of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, however they must be on-leash at all times. This includes beaches, trails, parking lots and in the water. The beaches and trails here are important habitat for wildlife, including wolves and shorebirds, whose very survival is impacted by dogs off leash.

This regulation is actively enforced under Canada’s National Parks Act, with fines and further penalties if needed. It is also illegal to harass wildlife, therefore a visitor can be charged if their pet chases a wild animal.

Please clean up after your pet and dispose of the waste in the garbage cans provided.  Get more information here.

plastic bag and straw ban

Tofino businesses no longer provide plastic checkout bags or plastic straws to customers in support of a new regulation to reduce waste from single-use plastic items and to promote sustainable consumer habits that are consistent with the values of our community.  When packing for your time here, be sure to include your favourite re-usable bag – and reusable water bottle or coffee mug. Join us as Tofino moves toward officially becoming an ocean-friendly community! Learn more about this new Tofino bylaw here.