Getting to Tofino

A short how to guide on getting to Tofino

Ben Direen

2/26/20242 min read

Tofino, located on the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, is a haven for nature lovers, surfers, and anyone seeking a tranquil escape. The remote-nature of Tofino, isolated from mainstream tourism and not even accessible by sealed road until 1961, is the reason it has been able to maintain its pristine landscapes and ecosystems. For that reason, getting to this picturesque destination can be challenging and involves a mix of road and ferry travel. While our Tofino 3-Day Camping Tour includes return transfers from Downtown Vancouver aboard our mini-coach, we've also compiled a short guide on the other travel options you can use to navigate your way to Tofino:

  1. By Air: If you're short on time or prefer to fly, Tofino has a small airport, the Tofino-Long Beach Airport (YAZ). Several airlines offer flights from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and other regional airports to Tofino. Harbour Air also offers a seasonal seaplane service from Vancouver to Tofino Harbour. These flights take approximately 1 hour but can be heavily impacted by bad weather (making a contingency plan is advised). These air services offer quick and convenient options, with stunning aerial views of Vancouver Island's rugged coastline.

  2. By Car: Driving to Tofino is an adventure in itself, offering breathtaking scenery along the way. From Vancouver, take a ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo (Departure Bay) or Tsawwassen to Duke Point. Once you've disembarked, embark on a scenic drive along Highway 4, also known as the Pacific Rim Highway, which winds through lush forests and majestic mountains. The journey takes approximately 3-4 hours from Nanaimo or 5-6 hours from Victoria.

  3. By Bus: If you prefer not to drive, bus services are available from Vancouver to Tofino. Companies like Tofino Bus offer comfortable coach services from Victoria to Tofino multiple times a week with pick up locations in Nanaimo and other places along the way. Sells out regularly. Reservations are essential before 9am on the morning of travel (Tofino Bus).

  4. By Ferry: If you're traveling from the mainland, taking a ferry is an integral part of the journey. BC Ferries operates routes from Horseshoe Bay (near Vancouver) to Nanaimo (Departure Bay) or from Tsawwassen (south of Vancouver) to Duke Point, near Nanaimo. Reservations are recommended, especially during peak travel times, to ensure a smooth sailing experience. From Nanaimo, you will need to confirm road transport such as a rental car, bus or ride-share app like Poparide.

  5. Rental Cars: Either from Nanaimo or once you've arrived in Tofino, having a car can be convenient for exploring the surrounding area at your own pace. Several car rental companies operate in Tofino, offering a range of vehicles to suit your needs. Whether you're planning to surf at Cox Bay, hike in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, or simply soak in the coastal charm, having a car gives you the flexibility to explore Tofino and its hidden gems.

As you embark on your journey to Tofino, embrace the anticipation of discovering one of British Columbia's most enchanting destinations. Whether you're arriving by air, road, or sea, the journey to Tofino is just the beginning of an unforgettable coastal adventure. So pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready to experience the magic of Tofino!