Surfing in Vancouver Island

Surfing guide to Vancouver Island, , ,

Vancouver Island has 1 surf spots . Go explore!

Overview of surfing in Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island will never be first on the list for those looking for a warm water reef pass, but if adventure on one of the most diverse coastlines with endless surf set ups itching to be explored is your jam, read on. Vancouver Island also has stunning natural beauty with dense evergreen forests and rugged coastlines as well as extensive mountain ranges. This makes the island a top destination for not just surfers looking to explore, but for all kinds of outdoor and nature enthusiasts. Make sure to pack some rubber and maybe some bear spray depending on where you are headed!

The Surf

Vancouver Island has a coastline full of small islands and little bays and inlets, making for a highly diverse collection of surf spots, similar to Northern California or Portugal. There are sheltered bays and coves that provide small beach break conditions for beginner surfers all the way up to exposed beachbreaks that get downright terrifying on large winter swells.

The best waves are reef breaks which come in all shapes and sizes, from rolling breaks to heaving slabs (Like Ireland!). Pack plenty of boards if you plan on surfing some of these spots, the coastline is very exposed to winter swells and the power of the Pacific is alive and well. Make sure to also pack a nice thick wetsuit, as the water temperature is always freezing!


Top Surf Spots

Cox Bay

Cox Bay offers up a crescent stretch of sand which throws out rolling peaks. When bigger it tends to close out, but when smaller some nice peaks pop up. This is a popular beach and the most likely beach of choice for intermediates and learners. Read on here!

Jordan River

Jordan River hosts a couple right hand point breaks that tend to be high performance and barrely. These waves need a big West or Northwest swell to work but when they are on they can be world class. Watch out for ornery locals. Learn more here!

Long Beach

This beach is found within a Pacific Rim National Park, and offers plenty of well formed sandbars for its long stretch. there may be a group on a specific peak but somewhere else should also be working just as well. Read more here.

Accommodation Information

Vancouver Island gets very remote. Tofino is the only real surf town there, and will have options from Airbnb’s to some resort style hotels. There are many parks both national and local that which make up a large part of the island and offer some remote camping options. A popular choice among visitors is a small RV rental.

The Good
Uncrowded Surf
Potential for unexplored surf
Year round waves and diversity of waves
The Bad
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Getting there

Surf Regions

Vancouver Island is found on the west coast of Canada which leaves it exposed to the Pacific Ocean. The Southern part of the island is generally a little more built up and offers more amenities than the northern part. The North is full of national parks and fewer towns, making for more involved planning process to complete a a surf trip. Both regions have excellent waves waiting to be surfed, although the northern region is a little more consistent due to being more open to swell angles.

Access to Surf and Location

Getting to Vancouver Island isn’t the most difficult. It is very easy, even for international travelers, to fly into Vancouver and then catch a ferry to the island which will then allow you to access the whole region. Most opt for a car which is the right call, making it possible to drive the coastline to find the one bay that is offshore that day. Many spots are also only accessible by boat, making a charter a better option for those looking to surf uncrowded to empty reef breaks. Locals even explore the Northern region by biplane in order to scout promising set ups!

Visa and Entry/Exit Information

To enter Canada one will either need a Visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization. This can be obtained online. Make sure your passport is valid for your stay, and check the government site for up to date info on other travel requirements.

The 1 best Surf spots in Vancouver Island

Overview of surfing spots in Vancouver Island

Jackie’s Hole – No Rooks

Peak | Exp Surfers
50m long

Surf spot overview

Lineup Lowdown

In Tofino the surf culture is pretty laid back and locals can be welcoming. These lineups can be a little crowded, so try not to aggravate any locals. Around the rest of the island localism can be strong. Take care to know where you are paddling out and do not step on any toes. Make sure to know your etiquette and apply it well.

Surf seasons and when to go

The best time of the year to surf in Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island gets year round surf. The best conditions are found during the Fall/Winter which contain heavy groundswells, the same ones that make Hawaii light up, and good offshore winds. The summer will still have surf although it is dependent on local windswell and good wind knowledge to know where is offshore. The summer will also be much more crowded due to the weather being more conducive to tourism.

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Vancouver Island surf travel guide

Find trips that fit a flexible lifestyle

Activities Other Than Surf

Beyond surfing, Vancouver Island offers a plethora of activities for outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking a tranquil escape. Hiking is a popular activity, with numerous trails winding through Pacific Rim National Park and Strathcona Provincial Park, offering breathtaking views and the chance to spot diverse wildlife. Wildlife watching is another highlight; take a whale-watching tour to see orcas and humpback whales, or go bird watching and spot a variety of species. Kayaking and paddleboarding are perfect for exploring the coastal waters and inlets, providing a unique perspective of the island’s rugged beauty. Additionally, visitors can immerse themselves in the local culture by visiting Indigenous cultural sites and local art galleries, enriching their understanding of the island’s heritage and creative scene.


English is the primary language spoken on Vancouver Island, making it easy for most travelers to communicate and navigate. While knowledge of French can be helpful, especially in tourist areas, it is not necessary for a comfortable visit. Signage, menus, and most informational materials are in English, ensuring that visitors can access services and enjoy their stay without language barriers.


The currency used on Vancouver Island is the Canadian Dollar (CAD). Travelers can find a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets, from budget-friendly hostels and campsites to high-end resorts in Tofino. Dining and activities can also vary in price, with local markets and casual eateries offering affordable options, while fine dining and guided tours might require a higher budget. Overall, planning and budgeting will ensure a fulfilling trip without financial stress.

Cell Coverage/WiFi

Cell phone coverage on Vancouver Island is generally good in towns and popular surf spots, ensuring that travelers can stay connected. WiFi is widely available in accommodations, cafes, and public areas, making it easy to access the internet and stay in touch with friends and family. However, remote areas may have limited or no coverage, so it’s advisable to plan accordingly and download necessary information beforehand if you plan to explore off-the-beaten-path locations.

Pack a Wetsuit!

Vancouver Island offers a unique surf experience with diverse conditions and stunning natural beauty. The island’s combination of consistent waves, breathtaking scenery, and welcoming surf culture makes it an ideal destination for surfers of all levels. Beyond surfing, the island’s rich array of activities, from hiking and wildlife watching to cultural experiences, ensures that every visitor finds something to enjoy. Whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation, Vancouver Island provides the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable surf trip.


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