Tofino has a gorgeous array of beaches. I haven't even been to all of them!
Long Beach is the best known. It is indeed a gorgeous beach with relatively gentle waves. The water in Canada is COLD - it averages about 7 Celcius in winter, 9-11 in summer, so if you want to go in, you'll either go in VERY briefly, or you'll need a 4-6 mm wetsuit, depending on time of year and your tolerance to cold.
Winter you will also need booties, gloves (unless you're hardcore) and a hood (unless you love ice cream headaches).
The rubber on your body is worth it though, because the quality of the waves can be extremely good. A lot of the time they suck, especially in the middle of summer, when they can be extraordinarily tiny. If you like big waves, winter is the time - it's uncrowded, and can get BIG.
Long Beach is about 20 minutes south of the town itself - since it's a National Park, there are no hotels or homes on this beach. It's pure nature, and that is the best part about it.
Cox Bay is a great place for waves - the rip currents here can be nuts though so just be careful.
Most days though, as long as it's not choppy and the winds are offshore, can be gorgeous. Even in summer, it's not too crowded as most tourists head to Long Beach, which still isn't crowded because it's so...long.
Cox Bay can be a *** of a paddle, so if you want the clean breaks, prepare for a battle, or if you're brave, jump off the rocks.
See Pt. 2 for more.
Equipment: If you're not renting, bring these things:
+ surfboard (duh)
+ 4 or 5mm wettie for summer, 5 or 6mm for winter.
+ booties and gloves - not totally necessary in summer, a MUST for winter
+ a hood for winter - it be COLD, people.
Renting? Go to one of these places:
+ Long Beach Surf Shop (the cheapest and friendliest)
+ Live to Surf
Rosie Bay is really only a good idea if you know what you are doing. At low tide it is a beautiful walk around, as there are tons of rocks to climb on, starfish, purple and green sea anemones, and a big cave to roam in (but nothing exciting lurks inside).
On high tide, forget surfing there unless you want to smash into the rocks.
South Chesterman can be REALLY nice; it tends to break near the rocks - all the beaches are beach breaks, but at here they tend to be more in one spot, so the crowds can get a little bigger, as there's not as much wave selection.
North Chesties is past Frank Island, and a longer stretch of beach, still with rideable waves.
Mackenzie Beach is beautiful, but not really for surfing. You can in winter, but I never have so I don't know what it's like. This is more of a sunset, stroll, walk the dog, collect shells, explore the rocks sort of beach.
Tonquin Beach - don't bother, unless you want to skimboard.
Equipment: See Pt. 1
If you have interest in going to Tofino, then there is a good chance you wanna check out the surf. There are 3 surf shops in town that will rent or sell you gear. I used Storm the Tofino Surf shop. Surfboards were available to rent $25 for 8 hours. Boogie Boards $20/8hrs.
We went on a salmon fishing trip through Viking Charters out of Ucluelet. The guide was a very nice older guy.. His boat was a commercial troller which also did sport charters. We talked to him after he came in from fishing one evening, and he gave us a salmon for our trouble. The next morning we went out fishing with him. My husband used to commercial fish, so he gave us the option of either sport fishing with poles, or running the commercial gear. We ran the gear all day, 10 hours, and had lots of fun! We caught lots of fish and the price was very reasonable. I don't know if he is still around, but if so we would definitely go fishing with him again.
Equipment: Weather gear, sunscreen, snacks