Chesterman Beach is just a few minutes south of the town of Tofino. Being the closest surf break to town, it is a favorite for locals and for surf schools to the extent that it is said to be Canada’s most popular beach for learning to surf.
The beach is comprised of two bays known as Chesterman North and South. They are divided by a Tombolo, an island attached to the shoreline by a narrow stretch of land, known as Frank Island, which is sometimes referred to as Middle Chesterman. During summer the waves here are often a little friendlier than nearby alternatives; at times they are a little too friendly, even for beginners. However, when the big winter swells come in from the north, Chesterman South is often still small enough to allow for beginner surfers to get out in the water. The southern portion of the beach generally produces the best waves during southern swell, while North Chesterman faces west and catches the west or northwest swell.
Aside from surfing, the beach is a fantastic spot to walk, bike, swim, sunbathe, picnic, stormwatch, or take in the sunset. While not quite the length of nearby Long Beach, Chesterman Beach still offers a 3-kilometer stretch of white sand flanked by rocky outcroppings with caves, crevasses, and tide pools to explore. Sea stars, anemones, mussels, and other such tidal creatures are plentiful, and the coastline is also home to many species of birds, whales, and other marine life, so it’s always a good idea to carry a set of binoculars around these parts. During the winter storms, huge waves pound the sandy shore and crash over the jagged rocks of Frank Island, putting on an amazing show for storm watchers. Being so close to town, this beach does experience higher volumes of tourist traffic than some of the less easily accessible beaches in the area, but there’s plenty of space to spread out.
There are two free parking lots to access the beach, one on Chesterman Beach Road and another on Lynn Road, and both have washroom facilities.