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Tofino

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While TOFINO is showing the effects of its ever-increasing tourist influx, locals are keeping development to a minimum, clearly realizing they have a vested interest in preserving the salty, waterfront charm that brought them – and visitors – here in the first place. Sleepy in the off-season, the place erupts into a frenzy during the summer.

Crowning a narrow spit, the fishing village is graced with magnificent views. There’s an unexpectedly rich restaurant scene, as well as top-notch accommodation and a wide variety of boat and seaplane tours. Most of the latter have a whale-watching, surfing (Canada’s best surf is close at hand) and fishing angle or provide a means to travel out to the nearby islands and hot springs.

It’s worth visiting the small Whale Centre at 411 Campbell St, one of many places to book whale-watching and bear-spotting tours, but also home to artefacts centred on local seafaring and First Nations culture. Another notable spot is the Eagle Aerie Gallery, 350 Campbell St, a gallery housed in a traditional longhouse-style building with a beautiful cedar interior.

Two fine beaches lie southeast of town: MacKenzie Beach and Chestermano Beach (for access to the latter take Lynn Rd right just beyond the Dolphin Motel). The former is one of the warmer spots locally, the latter home to a fair number of out-of-town accommodation possibilities. The quietest beach around is Templar: ask at the visitor centre for directions.

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