Enjoy the Drive from Nanaimo to Tofino: Top Stops Along the Way

Enjoy the Drive from Nanaimo to Tofino: Top Stops Along the Way
Read On

Enjoy the Drive from Nanaimo to Tofino: Top Stops Along the Way

When you’re as spectacularly remote as Tofino, getting here is part of the adventure. And who doesn’t love a great road trip? As in load the car, roll down the window, queue up your favourite playlist, and hit the highway. From majestic mountains and ancient forests, to pristine lakes and frothy, meandering rivers, the 2.5 hour, Highway 4 westward drive from Nanaimo to Tofino, British Columbia delivers a stunning surprise around every corner. We suggest taking the slow lane with these top stops along the way.


Coombs Old Country Market

Yes, those are goats on the roof.

Where is it: 44km from Nanaimo

Since 1973, this landmark has grown from a simple fruit stand to a celebrated market of fresh local foods, shops and artisans. The Old Country Market is not only a great stop for provisions, you can grab lunch at The Market Cafe and check out the famous resident goats who keep the sod-roof mowed.

The Cuckoo Trattoria and Pizzeria is also onsite, bringing authentic Italy to Coombs in a relaxed, delicious way.

If there are insect lovers along for the ride, Butterfly World is also nearby, with over 500 species from all over the globe, as well as turtles, koi fish and random reptiles.


And we don’t mean a restaurant!

Where is it:  33km from Coombs; 13km from Port Alberni

If you want stretch your legs for a 20-minute walk there/back through the forest, the 1.3km trail to the Hole-in-the-Wall is a fun way to explore.

This hidden gem was created years ago when a large hole was drilled through solid rock for a water pipeline for Port Alberni. It was eventually removed, leaving a peaceful, cascading waterfall that passes through the keyhole.

To reach it, park on the road across from Coombs Country Candy; right at the entrance to Port Alberni. Be sure to park along the highway (not at the store). As a favourite walk for locals that’s open year-round, you’ll likely see mountain bikers and other walkers. Note that on-leash dogs are welcome.

Sproat Lake

A perfect place to stretch your legs, let the dogs out, or take a dip.

Where is it:  18km from Hole In The Wall; 15km from Port Alberni

Spectacular Sproat Lake spans over 25km in length with 300km of shoreline. It’s home to the infamous (sadly decommissioned) Martin Mars waterbomber, which sure used to come in handy during BC’s forest fire season.

Whether you stop at Taylor Arm Provincial Park, Snow Creek, or the Kennedy River Rest Stop, this lake is worth a pull-over and will most certainly take your breath away.

WestCoast WILD Zip-line

Nature from new heights!

Where is it:  46km from Sproat Lake; 59km from Port Alberni

Now here’s where the real adventurers in your vehicle show their stuff by strapping in with the pros from WestCoast WILD Zip-line, and soaring over mystical ancient rainforests and steep narrow canyons.

As awesome as it is well-reviewed, this team is all about safety, sustainability and providing the ultimate eco-tour. Let’s do this?

Kennedy Lake Park

It’s so big and beautiful, you’ll think you’re at the Pacific Ocean…but not quite.

Where is it:  32km from WestCoast WILD Zip-line; 91km from Port Alberni

As you wind down towards Pacific Rim National Park, Kennedy Lake delivers sprawling scenery and two sites in Kennedy Lake Park along the south shore where visitors come to swim, kayak, fish, and windsurf.

Even if you don’t want to stop, you’ll likely want to slow down and take it all in.

Homestretch to Tofino

From here, head about 35km to the Highway 4 fork in the road and turn right towards Tofino. Then keep your eyes open for gobsmacking glimpses of Long Beach (see below) and more, including some breathtaking hikes in Pacific Rim National Park as you close in on Tofino.

Drive safe, and look forward to even more try-not-to-blink moments when you get here!

Top banner: Jeremy Koreski / Tourism Tofino
Coombs Country Market: Tourism Vancouver Island
Sproat Lake: Tourism Vancouver Island
WestCoast WILD Zip-line: WestCoast WILD Zip-line
Long Beach: Tourism Tofino