If you fancy yourself a bit of a beach bum, you must book yourself a trip to Tofino. The tiny village on the west coast of Vancouver Island has not only some of the best beaches in Canada but perhaps even the world. Long Beach and Chesterman Beach are both world famous beaches that we’ve enjoyed over the last handful of months. They’re long & spacious beaches surrounded by breathtaking scenery that will leave you wanting to visit regularly.
For months, we would constantly visit Long Beach and Chesterman along with the equally impressive MacKenzie Beach, which is essentially our backyard at Crystal Cove Beach Resort. Little did we know, that over the course of the many months we’ve been in Tofino that we were missing out on not only the best beach in Tofino but the best beach in Canada. That beach is Cox Bay – a beach that for some reasons we ignored until recently.
You might be thinking, “seriously, the best beach in Canada is a beach I’ve never heard of?” Yup – it’s true. Cox Bay is the best beach in Canada in our opinion and we do know a thing or two about awesome beaches. This past summer we spent many days walking the red sand beaches of PEI, many of which could easily be the best beach in Canada, too. Growing up, I spent time at Wasaga Beach – the longest freshwater beach in Canada. Kate grew up with fantastic beaches in Long Point and Turkey Point in southwestern Ontario. Still, our recent outings to Cox Bay left us with the feeling that this is the best beach in Canada.
So what’s so great about Cox Bay anyways? Let me explain…
9 Reasons Why Cox Bay is the Best Beach in Canada
1 – Surrounding Scenery
From the public access parking lot between Long Beach Lodge and the Cox Bay Beach Resort, you have to walk about 500m along a boardwalk before you hit the beach. Upon the completion of that walk, your eyes are presented with an expansive beach surrounded by the lush temperate rain forest.
As you walk to the middle of the beach the surroundings get even more impressive. Look to the left and you’ll see a couple small tree covered mountains. Look to the right and you’ll see many of the mountains that make up Clayoquot Sound.
2 – Beachcombing
Growing up, Kate loved to go beachcombing with her mother on Inglewood Beach in Florida. Kate’s passion for beachcombing has since been passed on to me. The first time I went to Cox Bay, while walking the beach with Bella I was amazed at what I saw.
With the tide out, scattered along the spacious beach were hundreds of large sand dollars. Previously, I had seen the occassional sand dollar but this sight was unreal. Because they are so fragile, a large percentage of the sand dollars were broken into pieces and sprinkled throughout the beach. Still, though, there were a lot of full intact sand dollars from end-to-end of Cox Bay.
Aside from sand dollars, the rest of Cox Bay is also covered in various shells – especially at low tide. If you love beachcombing, you’ll love Cox Bay.
3 – Sunsets That Look Like Paintings
A couple of times every week, we’re amazed at the sunsets that present themselves in Tofino. Compared to the vibrant & fierce sunsets we experienced in PEI last summer, Tofino sunsets are different. They’re much softer and often resemble a watercolour painting.
At Cox Bay, with the surrounding mountains and wide open ocean, the sunsets are the perfect way to end a day.
4 – Surfing
Thousands of people flock to Tofino throughout the year to ride the best waves in Canada. While the other beaches like Long Beach and Chesterman Beach have great surfing conditions, the surf conditions at Cox Bay are a notch better. The waves are large and act as a magnet for surfers, pulling them to the ocean where they bob around like seals waiting for that perfect wave. The surfing is so good at Cox Bay that Canadian ska band the Planet Smasher wrote about it in their fun tune “Surfin’ in Tofino”. The beach scenes in the video are of Cox Bay, too.
Even if you’re not a surfer, it’s fun to park yourself on the beach for a couple of hours and watch the surfers ride and balance themselves along the huge waves.
5 – Jogging/Biking
If surfing isn’t quite your thing, put on a pair of runners or hop on your bike and hit Cox Bay. The beach is about 1.5km in length making it a great spot to go for a quick run or bike ride. The sand at Cox Bay, like all Tofino beaches, is really hard and doesn’t have much give to it which makes it great for these to activities. Plus, after you work up a small sweat, if you’re brave enough, you can quickly cool down by going for a dip…or maybe just sticking your feet into the water.
6 – Lennard Island Lighthouse
If you know Kate or me, you know that we love lighthouses. Last summer, we saw over 60 different lighthouses in PEI which was a fun experience. Here in Tofino, there aren’t many lighthouses to see aside from the Lennard Island Lighthouse.
This lighthouse was opened in the early 1900’s and served mariners as they would enter Clayoquot Sound. From Cox Bay, even though it’s still in the distance, you have a great view of the Lennard Island Lighthouse.
7 – Wildlife
Tofino is a very wild place and Cox Bay is no different. It’s easy to look up and see massive bald eagles soaring around. Also, on occasion, you may even be able to spot whales from Cox Bay. Over 20,000 grey whales migrate past the coastline of Tofino every spring which offers up wonderful opportunities to see them from shore. Humpbacks and Orcas also frequent the area through the various times of the year.
8 – Tide Pools
At low tide, the deeper pockets of beach along the coastal parts of Cox Bay allow you to have some serious fun checking out tide pools. Within these tide pools are all sorts of wonderful marine creatures. While searching the tide pools, it’s common to find crabs, shrimp, tiny fish and more. The common highlight for us is finding sea stars. The common sea stars here are beautiful. They cling themselves to the rocks with a vicious grip. While they look soft and jelly-like, they are rough like the rocks they cling themselves to. Sometimes they can be hard to find as the purple-ish stars tend to blend in with the rocks. However, the bright orange ones are easy to find and are stunning.
9 – The View
Located at the far end of Cox Bay is a somewhat secret-ish trail. The trail is technically a part of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve but isn’t labelled or marked at all. No online hiking guides even point to this as an actual trail. After a steep 20-30 minute climb up the mountainside, you can turn around and catch one of the most beautiful views you’ll ever see.
Kate and I were in awe when we got to the top of the mountain with that view presented right in front of us. It seemed surreal. We spent a good half hour at the top of the mountain just looking out to the vast space in front of us.
Continuing past this vantage point, a quick five-minute hike takes you to the opposite side of the mountain which also displays a completely different but equally as stunning vantage point.
We’ve never experienced a beach quite like Cox Bay before and for all of the reasons above, it’s why we believe it’s the best beach in Canada. Do yourself a favour and take a trip to Tofino and discover Cox Bay and all of the other incredible beaches in the area.