Long Beach in Tofino is one place in Canada that needs no introduction. It is situated within the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and is one of the earliest recorded surfing beaches in British Columbia.
Along with Florencia Bay, Wickaninnish, Combers and Schooner Cove beaches, it creates the longest sandy beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island, stretching for 16 kilometres (10 miles).
Long Beach attracts large crowds because of its pristine beauty and great waves for surfing. However, because it is so long, there is plenty of room to find peace and solitude.
Both locals and visitors from all corners of the world come to be inspired by the sights and sounds of this beautiful coastal region. It is a place that you need to visit at least once in your lifetime.
Long Beach is sure to make some lasting memories with its never-ending stretches of sand, impressive ocean views, boardwalks winding through a rainforest and unforgettable sunsets.
Things to Know About Long Beach
Long Beach is located on Wickaninnish Bay between Tofino and Ucluelet, and it is the most popular and accessible of the beaches in the Pacific Rim National Park. Over a million visitors come to see the beach each year!
It is divided into three areas: Wikaninnish, Combers and Incinerator Rock. The Tofino-Ucluelet highway parallels the beach, and if you like camping, you can stay at one of two campgrounds located nearby.
The Pacific Rim National Park is known for ancient rainforests, stunning beaches and abundant wildlife. It is recognized by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve. National and provincial parks protect large areas of the coastline.
How to Get to Long Beach
Long Beach is located 17 km from Tofino, 109 km from Port Alberni, 190 km from Nanaimo and 299 km from Victoria. You can view it on the map here.
From Tofino, follow the Pacific Rim Highway 4 East for about 17 km and turn right to enter the parking lot.
From Victoria, drive on the Trans Canada Hwy 1 towards Nanaimo. Before Nanaimo, use the right two lanes to merge onto Nanaimo Pkwy 19. Drive for 89 kilometres, and after Parksville, merge onto Memorial Road 4 towards Port Alberni.
Follow the Pacific Rim Highway 4 West from Port Alberni for 109 kilometres. The road is windy but scenic. At the Tofino-Ucluelet junction, turn right to continue driving on the Pacific Rim Highway 4. After about 15km, you will see signs for the Long Beach parking.
Parking at Long Beach
There are two main parking lots at Long Beach; the Incinerator Rock and the Long Beach parking lot. Both are indicated with a green roadside sign and are located about 500 meters from each other.
Daily National Park fees apply to Long Beach as it is part of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve unless you have the Parks Canada Discovery Pass. There are pay machines in both of the parking lots. To purchase the annual park pass online or to view the daily park fees, visit the Parks Canada website here.
Incinerator Rock Parking
The Incinerator Rock Parking lot is located right next to the beach and is the smaller of the two parking lots. There are clean, heated washrooms with flush toilets, outdoor change rooms, and an open shower to wash the sand off.
During peak visiting season, finding a parking spot here might be tricky. If you need to park your RV, head to the Long Beach Parking lot.
Long Beach Parking
The Long Beach Parking lot is the largest of the two. When you arrive, you will see a screen with updates on the surf conditions and essential local information. Beach access is easy no matter where you park.
There are washrooms with flush toilets, outdoor change rooms, and an open shower. You will also find some picnic tables and RV parking.
Things to Do at Long Beach
Long Beach is a surfing paradise, but there is so much more to do on the beach besides surfing.
During summer, you can enjoy walking on the hard-packed sand, dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean, build a driftwood shelter or design a sand castle, fly a kite, have a picnic, play fetch with your dog, or try stand-up paddle boarding.
During winter time, you can experience epic storm watching. Bring some rain gear and waterproof shoes to stay comfortable.
When visiting the beach during any season, having a waterproof bag might be handy. Also, please respect the environment, pack out what you pack in and leave only footprints.
Besides the impressive coastline, Long Beach is well known for its unique attraction, the Incinerator Rocks. The rocks sit on the beach and, during a high tide, get partially submerged by the Pacific Ocean.
Incinerator Rocks are a nice place to walk and enjoy lovely views and sunsets. They are also popular spots for taking photos, relaxing, and watching surfers break the waves.
Long Beach is one of the earliest and most popular surfing locations in British Columbia. The dramatic coastline and the Pacific Ocean waves attract surfers throughout the year.
In summer, the ocean waves are forgiving, and it is the best time for beginners to get started. Expert surfers favour the winter season, as the ocean is dramatic with waves up to 9 meters (30 feet).
The water temperature remains consistent throughout the year. The average water temperature in winter reaches 8.4 Celzius, and in spring, 9.6 Celzius. In summer, the average temperature rises to 13.4 Celzius; in autumn, it is 11.8 Celzius.
At Long Beach, you can experience the full power of the Pacific Ocean. Tides can fluctuate between highs and lows throughout the day, so it is important to be mindful of the ocean and its changing currents. To check the tides at Long Beach, click here.
A wetsuit is essential, along with recommended boots, gloves and a hood in the winter. If you are a first-timer who wants to try surfing, there are many surfing schools in Tofino. You will learn the basics of surfing within three hours.
Long Beach stretches as far as you can see, and it is easy to spend hours walking around, enjoying the scenery. There are no hotels or restaurants to spoil the pristine beauty of the coastline. The Pacific Ocean borders the beach on one side and a lovely forest on the other.
You can start at the Incinerator Rock and walk south to Comber’s Beach. On the way back, you can make a detour through a lush temperate rainforest and walk along the boardwalk by the Green Point Campground.
Walking north of the Incinerator Rock, you will reach Schooner Cove Beach. Alternatively, you can take the Schooner Cove Trail from the Esowista IR Road. It is a lovely boardwalk trail with a beautiful old-growth forest.
Breathe in the fresh ocean air, watch the sea birds and listen to the soothing sound of the waves. If you get tired, the beach has a lot of driftwood on which you can sit along the way.
Long Beach is very long, and if you want a faster way to explore the coastline, you can do so on a bike. The hard-packed sand is ideal for cycling if you have the right kind of bike.
Generally, you can use a mountain bike on the beach, but the best option is a fat bike. Its 4-inch wide tyres will prevent you from sinking into the sand and lessen the effort needed. The fatter the wheel, the easier to bike on the sand.
If you do not have a bike, you can rent one in town. Tofino Bike is a locally owned and operated bike shop. Whether you are looking for a beach cruise or a geared bike for a ride to Long Beach on the path through the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, they have a great selection.
Their most popular bike to rent is the Beach Cruiser, made by Cyber Bikes. It was custom designed in Tofino in 2018 with the West Coast elements of sand, salt and rain in mind.
Tofino and Pacific Rim National Park are home to some of Canada’s most photogenic coastal landscapes. At Long Beach, you will have plenty of opportunities to capture beautiful scenery, ocean waves, surfers, some wildlife and stunning sunsets.
There is a section of the beach known as Combers Beach, where you will find an interesting tunnel called the Krummholz Tunnel. The name means ‘crooked wood’ in German. It was formed as salty sea winds, and sand made it difficult for trees to grow.
During low tide, you can explore and photograph the tide pools with sea urchins, crabs, starfish and shells. There are countless possibilities for capturing beautiful photographs and creating long-lasting memories.
When you walk along the coastline, you might catch a glimpse of a whale in the distance. Keep your eyes open!
Migrating grey whales return from Mexico to the Pacific Northwest in the spring. Humpback whales can be seen from March to September, and orcas can be seen around the year.
Other wildlife is abundant too. At Combers Beach, you can view Sea Lion Rock, a nestling haven for seabirds and a popular area for sea lions to hang out.
During a low tide, the rocky outcroppings create sanctuaries for sea stars, anemones and the occasional small fish. Safe from marine predators, these critters are trapped in these small tidal pools until the ocean rises again to cover them.
The Pacific Rim National Park is home to eagles, black bears, wolves, cougars, black-tail deer, raccoons, martens and otters.
During colder months, the ocean at Long Beach can be intimidating with strong winds, choppy waters, currents and changing weather conditions. Summer offers long and calm days, perfect for sea-kayaking adventures.
When kayaking, you can view the coastline from a whole new perspective and have chance encounters with sea lions, river otters, bald eagles and many species of seabirds. And if it is your lucky day, you might spot whales emerging from the waves.
One of the most popular places to sea kayak on Vancouver Island and around Tofino is the Broken Group Islands. It consists of 100 small islands featuring white sandy beaches, inlets and abundant wildlife.
Depending on your skill level, you can either plan a trip on your own or join up with one of the tour operators. If you need to rent a sea kayak, there are several places in Tofino and the nearby town of Ucluelet.
Watch the Sunset
The sunsets at Long Beach are mesmerizing! You can walk along the beach or sit on one of the rocks and watch the sun set deep into the ocean, decorating the sky with staggering colours.
Allow yourself to be transported to a world of tranquillity and wonder, where time seems to stand still, and the enchantment of nature unfolds before your eyes.
If you like surfing, you can enjoy the sunset from your surfboard. Relax into the rolling waves and get a sea-level view of the setting sun. Be sure to check sunset time, depending on the time of year.
Other popular beaches to visit for sunset in Tofino are Cox Bay, Chesterman, Tonquin and Mackenzie Beach. Tonquin Beach does not face the Pacific Ocean directly; therefore, it is much calmer than Long Beach or Cox Bay Beach.
Winter Storm Watching
Long Beach is enjoyable in every season. The summer is popular with peaceful long walks along the shore, whereas winter is known for dramatic waves, strong winds and lots of mist and rain.
The storm season in Tofino starts at the beginning of November and lasts until the end of February. People come with waterproof gear, rain boots and of course a camera! It is an unforgettable experience to visit the beach during a west coast storm and watch waves crash upon the shore.
Check the tide information before you go, and be cautious when visiting the beach during a high tide. During heavy storms, beach access might be restricted.
This one probably comes as a surprise, but yes, you can play golf near Long Beach. The golf course is located only about a 5-minute drive from the beach and offers reasonable rates.
Surrounded by the ancient rainforest of Clayoquot Sound to the north and the stunning beauty of Barkley Sound to the south, The Long Beach Golf Course is one of the most scenic golf courses in British Columbia.
You can enjoy an 18-hole Mini Golf or try the nine-hole championship course, one of the most challenging courses on Vancouver Island.
Long Beach Campgrounds
If you are looking for a nice campground, there are two located near Long Beach: Green Point Campground and Long Beach Golf Course Campground. Make sure to book in advance during the peak season because they book up quickly.
Green Point Campground
The Green Point Campground is situated on a forested terrace above Long Beach and is one of the most popular campgrounds in Tofino. There is an indoor theatre, fully serviced sites, showers, flush toilets, picnic tables and fire-pits. Firewood is available for a fee.
The campground is open from May until October and is maintained by Parks Canada. There are 94 drive-in sites, 20 walk-in sites and one group walk-in site. To make a reservation or check the rates click here.
Long Beach Golf Course Campground
The Long Beach Golf Course Campground is situated in the ancient rainforest, 3.9 kilometres from the beach. It offers 76 campsites and six full-serviced RV sites.
Each site is equipped with a picnic table and a fire pit. Bundles of firewood and kindling are available for purchase. Other facilities include drinking water, flush toilets and free showers. To make a reservation or check the rates click here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you want to know if you can swim at Long Beach or bring your pup with you? Then keep reading.
Can I Swim at Long Beach?
Long Beach is dangerous for swimming due to strong rip currents and large waves. All beaches in Tofino are unsupervised.
You can always walk barefoot along the shore and get your feet wet inside the ocean. “Grounding” has many health benefits and will leave you feeling relaxed and recharged.
Are Dogs Allowed on Long Beach?
Dogs are permitted on Long Beach but must be on a leash. Keeping your dog on a leash helps to protect the shorebirds that land to rest on the beach on their long migratory path.
Are Fires Allowed on Long Beach?
Fires are prohibited at Long Beach; only elevated wood and propane fires can be used. Beach fires are only permitted on Mackenzie Beach and Chesterman Beach.
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We hope you enjoyed our guide on visiting Long Beach. Let us know in the comments below what is your favourite beach in Tofino. Here are a few of our articles to inspire your travels on Vancouver Island.
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