Surfing in Tofino during Storm Season

November 5th, 2021

When does the surf season end in Tofino?

The question we always get during our surf lessons in the fall is the following: ‘When does the surf season end ?’. The answer is that it never does. We at Swell Tofino will continue offering rentals and surf lessons during the winter. Surfing in Tofino during the winter usually means bigger waves and empty line ups. Winter surf season in Tofino basically stands for storm season and these storms bring along the bigger swells, that result in bigger waves, which a lot of local surfers look forward to all summer long. 

More info about our ongoing surf lessons and rentals can be found on the following pages:

What is it like to go cold water surfing in Tofino?

We all know the water never gets really warm in Tofino, even in the summer. It is proper cold water surfing. In winter the water gets even colder and you will start to really use all your wetsuit accessories, like hoods, boots, gloves and a wetsuit that is at least 5/4 mm thick. All our rental gear is this thickness to make sure everybody can be comfortable in the water and surf for hours. 

Everybody always sees people surfing in Hawaii or Australia where it is warm and it is bikini and board short weather most of the time. That is not Tofino, but what is more magical than to go surfing with frost or even a layer of snow in the surroundings? The views you will get are very special and rare to experience.

In winter we have big storms rolling in from the Pacific that usually last for days on end. These storms bring really strong swells, winds and a lot of rain. 

Is it still safe to go surfing in Tofino during these storms?

It definitely is! But, now more than ever it is very important to do a good surf forecast to check the conditions and to choose the right beach to go surfing on this day. We use the following criteria:

  • Swell and wave height
  • Swell Direction
  • Wind Strength
  • Wind Direction
  • High and Low tides

For forecasting these criteria we usually use websites and apps like: 

  • Magicseaweed 
  • Surfline 

 More local and usually accurate websites: 

If you have problems understanding the websites provided, ask your local surf shops, like Swell Tofino, for advice on where to go! Just come in and visit us in the shop. We are always happy to guide you in the right direction for your surfing level!

Sometimes these storms bring swells that won’t be 100% save on certain beaches like Cox Bay or Long Beach. On days like this, these beaches on these will be perfect for storm watching instead. For surfing there are definitely other alternatives. With the bigger swells rolling in, beaches like North and South Chesterman, Mackenzie Beach and even Tonquin Beach get a nice wave to go surfing on, which might sound a little bit weird for people visiting us in the summer and seeing not a single wave on the last 2 beaches of this list.