Photo: Early morning light in the Broken Group Islands, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Photo: Iain Reid/CanGeo Photo Club)
What it lacks in tropical heat, Pacific Rim National Park makes up for in breathtaking coastal vistas and geographically diverse beachscapes, making it Canada’s premier destination for practiced and beginner surfers alike.
Ride the gentle waves over the sandy shallows of Long Beach, or catch big surf at Wickaninnish Beach. Whatever your skill level, Pacific Rim has the surfing experience you’re looking for.
When to go
Year-round, although the frequent storms that batter the Pacific coast in the autumn and winter make for the best wave conditions.
What to bring
Your own gear if you’ve got it. If not, no worries: wetsuits, boards and vehicle racks can be rented from various shops in nearby Tofino and Ucluelet, including Pacific Surf Co., Long Beach Surf Shop and Live to Surf.
Where to stay
The park itself offers drive-in, walk-in and backcountry camping from May to mid-October, but there are many other options available in Tofino at a variety of price points. Travelers craving romance and relaxation will find it at the Wickaninnish Inn, while Ocean Village Resort and Long Beach Lodge Resort offer family-friendly amenities along with ocean views. If mingling with fellow travellers at a hostel is more your style, check out the Whalers on the Point Guesthouse or the Tofino Travellers Guesthouse.
Where to eat and drink
Surfing is hungry work, but fortunately Tofino is a foodie’s paradise. Within Pacific Rim park, hit the Kwisitis Feast House in the Kwisitis Visitor Centre at the end of Wickaninnish Beach for breakfast and lunch daily with a side of panoramic ocean views. Or, head into town and fill up on Tacofino Cantina’s legendary seafood tacos and burritos washed down with a lime-mint slush.
After a long day at the beach, unwind with a simple, locally-sourced meal amid the warm wood décor of Shelter Restaurant, Tofino’s go-to post-surfing spot, or bask in the memories of your park adventure at Wolf In the Fog, where everything – even Chef Hailey Pasemko’s cutting-edge cocktails – is inspired by the natural beauty of western Vancouver Island.
Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau tried surfing for the first time at Pacific Rim in 1970 – and Justin Trudeau has a standing invitation.
Read before you go
Surfing is fun and exhilarating, but like any activity on or near the water, it comes with risks. Read this primer on common hazards and when in doubt, don’t go out!