There are plenty of whale-watching operators in town (the season runs from March to mid-Oct), most offering similarly priced excursions: all you need do is decide what sort of boat you want to go out on – Zodiacs (inflatables), which are bouncier, more thrilling and potentially wetter, or rigid-hull cruisers (covered or uncovered), which are more sedate (see Whale-watching in Pacific Rim National Park). If you take tours to Meares Islands and Hot Springs Cove, you stand a good chance of seeing whales en route – some operators try to combine whale-watching with excursions. Reckon on spending around $90 for a two- or three-hour trip in a Zodiac or rigid-hull. Operators in Tofino include:
Jamie’s Whaling Station 606 Campbell St t 250 725 3919, t 1 800 667 9913, w jamies.com. Founded in 1982, this offers a whale-watching choice of Zodiac boats ($99) or the 20m Leviathan II, which comes with heated cabin ($109). If you don’t see whales, Jamie’s offers vouchers which can be used on another trip. Also runs the same themed tours as Ocean Outfitters. Has another location in Ucluelet at 168 Fraser Lane (t 1 877 726 7444).
Ocean Outfitters 368 Main St t 250 725 2866, t 1 877 906 2326, w oceanoutfitters.bc.ca. Offers 2.5hr whale-watching tours (March to mid-Oct) on rigid ($89) or Zodiac boats ($89), as well as bear-watching (April–Oct; $89), hot springs (year-round; $119) and Meares Island tours (year-round; $25).
Remote Passages 51 Wharf St t 250 725 3330, t 1 800 666 9833, w remotepassages.com. Also long-established (since 1986) is Remote Passages, another laudable operation running whale-watching (Zodiacs, $89; cabin, $95), hot springs ($115), bear-watching ($89) and sea-kayaking tours ($79).
West Coast Aquatic Safaris 101a Fourth St t 250 725 9227, w whalesafaris.com. Offers whale-watching tours, sheltered fishing outings ideal for families or novices, as well as three daily trips to the Hot Springs Cove ($129).
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Bear-watching, Fishing, surfing, kayaking and hiking
In addition to these tours, many of the companies listed above also offer bear-watching, kayaking, hiking, fishing charters and other tours. Guided hikes and easy nature rambles in the forest and along the seashore are offered by several companies; contact the visitor centre in Tofino for details. Tofino is quickly becoming the surfing capital of Canada thanks to some enormous Pacific waves.
Braedy Mack Charters 899 Brabant Place t 250 726 8499, t 1 888 732 3077, w fishingtofino.ca. A long-established fishing specialist who’s quite happy to have novices aboard.
Paddle West Kayaking 606 Campbell St t 250 725 3232, w paddlewestkayaking.com. For kayaks (no experience required), this operator offers 2hr 30min, 4hr and 6hr trips ($59/75/99). Also runs longer, customized tours with lodge accommodation or wilderness camping.
Surf Sister 625 Campbell St t 250 725 4456, w surfsister.com. Learn to surf with a friendly local company founded in 1999, whose all-female instructors will have even the most timid novice up on their feet and catching their first wave by the end of a lesson. Wetsuits and boards are provided ($79).