I am an avid hiker with a focus on easy to moderate trails in natural settings. I occasionally do harder trails.
Getting to Tonquin Beach
The first time that I made it out to Tonquin Beach in Tofino would have been in 2007. That summer, I worked at a popular hotel in the area.
On my days off, I would find things to do that had to do with both trails and beaches. The Tonquin Beach area, from that point of view, killed two birds with one stone because it's a beach set in the midst of a small trail network. I revisited the area in 2020 with an intention of focusing on the trails in the area.
The trailhead for the Tonquin Trail Network can be found via First Street in Tofino. You should not be expecting long trails in this network. However, any beach that you have to walk to or take a large staircase to will eliminate some traffic and create a greater degree of seclusion if that's what you are into. You can't just drive up to the beaches on the Tonquin Trail Network and that means some people will opt for the ones that you can drive to.
In the first video which you can see below, I show a large staircase that you have to deal with to get to Tonquin Beach. This staircase required a short walk to get to from a parking lot. Among other minor difficulties, expect about 50 stairs if you want to go to this beach, an obstacle that won't be a problem to most hikers on most days.
Tonquin Beach Access
Tonquin Beach Scenery
Tonquin Beach is not where you find surfers or bathers in and around Tofino. Of course, in the summertime people will be wearing bathing suits on the beach and some people dabble with going in the water. However, the beaches that have more waders and surfers are to the south.
Chesterman Beach, Long Beach, and Wickaninnish Beach are more popular when it comes to swimming. Of these three locations, Chesterman Beach is the one that is closest to the town of Tofino. Furthermore, Chesterman Beach does not require a park pass.
Tonquin Beach is a little protected from an outlying island. I think that's what makes the waves smaller in a region where they are large. Furthermore, this island prevents a nice panoramic view of the ocean.
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However, the beach has a long tidal area, there are bluffs and rocky shores that are fun to explore for starfish and other creatures, and it is still a pretty and scenic area that's not that difficult to get to. In the following video, I filmed Tonquin Beach and the area for a couple of minutes.
Walk a Trail to Third Beach
If you want to get out to a beach where there will typically be very few people, then I recommend a little bit of a walk to a beach called Third Beach. To access this beach, instead of taking the staircase down to Tonquin Beach, head south toward Middle Beach, and Third Beach will be en route.
The trail to Third Beach will not be a proper hike in the sense that it doesn't involve that much elevation change. Instead, expect a fairly easy walk that anyone with reasonable fitness should be able to enjoy.
In the following video, I show the signpost for Third Beach (which was a little inadequate). You will also see the trail and how narrow it was. I take a little bit of an adventurous hike up a rock with the camera rolling in order to get a nice view of the beach and the water. I usually keep my videos short and on point but in this case, I made a little bit of a longer video.
Honestly, I can't recommend this trail network for someone who wants to get a full workout in from a hike. Getting to Third Beach doesn't take that long and there aren't a lot of challenges involved. However, if beaches are what you are aiming for, then this trail network is certainly for you.
Furthermore, Tonquin Beach is a free beach. Some of the other beaches in the region require a Parks Canada pass to visit.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Shane Lambert