Pacific Sands Beach Resort fast facts:
Where: Tofino, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
See Inside: Resort Website and Instagram
Vibes: Chill, PNW, Beachy, Hang Ten
Set the Tone: Time Moves Slow by BADBADNOTGOOD
I live in the Pacific Northwest, land of evergreen wrapped water towns, so every time my wife said “I really want to go to Tofino,” I thought to myself (often out loud) “why would you want to go to just another pacific northwest beach town?”.
As you can guess, I made the correct decision, eventually caved, and to make the following story short: I’m SO glad I did.
With an upcoming 6-year wedding anniversary on the horizon and a child under 2 years old, I figured it was the perfect time to surprise her with an extended weekend away at a destination not too close but not too far away, so Tofino seemed like the perfect fit (a huge assumption, but more on that later).
I initially didn’t think there be many noteworthy places to stay in the area, but I quickly discovered countless solid options in such a small town. A quick Google search showed several well-established and expansive hotel options dotted along Tofino’s coast, so finding something truly special that stood out from the bunch seemed like it might be a tough task.
Fortunately, I remembered that my wife had sent me a few posts on Instagram about a special resort in Tofino: The Pacific Sands Beach Resort. With a quick call, I booked a 4 night visit to see what the hype was all about, and after my little family adventure to the Pacific Sands Beach Resort and the Greater town of Tofino, I’m left captivated, amazed, confused, and looking forward to more.
Location & Ease Of Access
As they say in Real Estate, location is everything, and The Pacific Sands Beach Resort is primo, but is that location in a good location? There’s a few layers to this location onion that we’ll need to peel back…
The Pacific Sands Beach Resort is located about 7-minute drive outside of central Tofino, which leaves you close enough to bike to downtown, but far enough away that it doesn’t feel too crowded.
This family owned property is massive and situated on one of the most premier surf beaches in Tofino, Cox Bay. The beach is amazing and surrounding landscape is spectacular. The beautiful hotel is nestled in the foggy woods on a beach that felt like Hawaii with the smashing waves, expansive beach, and the unusually hot 87° Fahrenheit days that we had while there.
All that said, we need to talk a bit more about the surrounding location…
The town of Tofino is not an easy place to get to. I thought it wouldn’t be too bad coming from Seattle, which on a map doesn’t appear to be far away as the crow flies, but the reality is that it’s on the far side of an island in Canada that requires a 2-hour ferry ride to reach and nearly 3-hour car ride once you hit land.
Our road trip looked like this: 3-hr car ride from Seattle to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal in Canada, a 2-hr ferry ride to Vancouver island, and then a 3-hr car ride to the resort. Sprinkle in a few bathroom breaks, food stops, and baby, and it’s kind of a trek.
Oh, and one last thing: There’s been road work on the mountain pass that’s been going on for a number of years (see pic below) that only allows groups of cars to drive on throughout the day, and at night starting at 11 pm, they shut it down for only 1 more group to pass at 2 am and then open it back up at 5 am apparently.
We didn’t know this and luckily made the last group at 11pm. Good thing we did, or we’d be doing a little car camping. There is a local airport though in Tofino, so if your pockets are deep enough or you hate driving, charter a flight.
All this said, the juice is very much worth the squeeze. It’s some of the tastiest juice I’ve had in a minute, and I’d be willing to drive much further for my next sip.
Most hotels and resorts are usually relatively limited in options but Pacific Sands is not one of those resorts. There are a handful of different options that range in price from not particularly cheap (for most) to quite expensive. They have houses and suites, some new, some old, some with hot tubs, some without. One thing I did notice during our stay is that not a single room seemed to have a bad view. I didn’t book a beachfront room, but it damn near felt like I was.
What I did notice with their booking options though, is that they highly incentivize long stays (see image below), which I will 100% be doing on my next stay. The resort is dog friendly and a lot of the rooms have full kitchens so you don’t have to leave, which is nice because you won’t want to!
We decided to come a day earlier than initially planned so we stayed in two different rooms for our trip. This gave us the opportunity to try out two different styles of room, and they frankly were both great. We stayed in the “Oceanside Suite” for the first night and the “Lighthouse Suite” for the rest of the trip.
The rooms were not mind blowing, bit of a Goldilocks story… not too hot, not too cold, just right…metaphorically speaking of course (the temp was fine for the most part).
The rooms had exactly what you need. Good size bedrooms, good size living rooms, full size kitchens, great balconies with awesome views of the beach, and cozy fireplaces to set the mood.
There were only two drawbacks honestly with the room, the bathroom and the lack of AC. On the bathroom front it just felt kind of small, but I do have a child so having a little extra room is always helpful. As far as the lack of AC, we did have to use the provided fan in our room each night to avoid overheating, but honestly we were there during one of their exceptionally hot (yet limited) days.
Overall though, the rooms are really nice throughout and have plenty of space for a small family. There was spots to hang your wetsuits and leave your surfboard overnight. Also, our room came with a local bottle of wine and they had awesome heavy rain jackets in the entry closet, because you know…PNW life.
Property & Amenities
As I mentioned earlier in this review, each room we stayed in had a full kitchen so it made it easy to not have to leave the resort for food. Well if that was any indication of them really trying to make life easy for you to just relax, the property and onsite amenities will really drive the point home.
The resort really does have it all….
There’s an onsite restaurant, and the food honestly was great. There’s a selection of soups, salads, burgers, fish tacos, and even cases of beer to go. What was also nice to see, is everything on the menu didn’t seem to have a large mark up. The restaurant is a big win for an after surf or bike ride meal.
Speaking of they have both an onsite bike rental shop and a surf shop. There’s also a coffee shop currently being built and an onsite sauna area where you can run directly out of your sauna to the ocean for a cold plunge, in case you need to dial in your Wim Hof method.
The bike shop had both e-bikes and beach cruisers which are great for a quick beach cruise. The beach is big so really makes for a good time. They also have kids’ seats and buggies they can connect to your bike if you have any little members in your party.
One of the most special things about Tofino is that there is a bike trail that runs along the side of the main highway from one town to the next. You can hop on your bike, leave the resort entrance and ride to downtown in about 20 mins. It’s smooth, pretty, and a great way to explore the area.
The surf shop was awesome and well equipped with wetsuits and surfboards for all shapes and sizes of humans. Seriously, they had the smallest kids wetsuits I’ve ever seen.
What’s crazy though is the water really wasn’t that bad on the hot summer days we were there. Tofino is known for it’s surfing and the Pacific Sands Beach resort is THE beach to be. It’s maybe my favorite spot I’ve ever surfed. No rocks, no seaweed, no sharp reef…just long consistent waves all day and plenty of space to avoid snaking a wave.
The resort in general was a really special spot. Even from the entrance you just know it’s going to be a great time. There are so many areas to spend time with the family, from sitting in beach side hammock, gathering around a fire pit, or having dinner around the barbecue.
Bonus: For the parents reading the article, there is even a daily kids camp so you get back a little free time for some beachside R&R.
As mentioned earlier, it’s tough to want to leave the Pacific Sands Resort with everything on the property, but if you do, there’s a lot of cool things happening in Tofino.
Every morning we would leave the resort to snag a coffee, and our first day of the trip we stopped by the Rhino Coffee house for our morning fix and a sweet treat. The line was very long, but it was worth the wait. Some would say I’m a sweet connoisseur, so that should fully set the tone for this statement: The bacon maple donut was the best donut I’ve ever had. If bacon maple is not your thing, there is plenty of other awesome options.
One of the nights of our trip we snagged tickets to a small concert at Ronnies Beachside BBQ. The vibe was amazing at this place…Loud music, delicious modern BBQ, and a whole host of tequila drinks and beer. This is a must do when you visit.
The town in general also has a ton of really cool boutique clothing and goods stores so you can shop around for amazing home goods, clothing, surfboards, homemade gifts, and local art.
The Pacific Sands Beach Resort just snagged a spot on the coveted annual trip list for me. It felt like I was in Hawaii, but in a different dimension. I was left captivated, amazed, confused, and looking forward to more. There is no doubt in my mind, that I’ll find my way back to here next year and the year after that.
Tofino is worth the trek, so when you make it, make the most of it and stay at this little slice of Canadian Aloha.