The Ultimate Surf Spots in Tofino/Ucluelet


When you think about the surfing locations around the globe, they’re usually a place that resembles paradise with tropical weather, palm trees, scenic beach views, warm water, and cold summery refreshments present. Tofino/Ucluelet is quite the opposite. On Vancouver Island, its rather cold most months and the views don’t have your typical characteristics of a surf beach. This doesn’t mean it isn’t a place you shouldn’t visit. If you’re looking good vibes and great people, this may be your vacation spot to try.


It’s always worth knowing the crowd or the mentality of people before you paddle out. People on the west coast of Vancouver Island are generally pretty helpful. For example, when we arrived in town and ask a couple of shops and people about the tide, swells and breaks without hesitation everyone proves to be helpful and knowledgeable about the beaches. People were so nice, we ended up surfing with one of our waiters the very next day at Wick’s.

The Breaks

Vancouver Island is north making the water cold all year long. In the summer months, the water can rise to around 55-60 degree Fahrenheit. Some of us were warm enough in a 3/2 mm full wetsuit so plan accordingly. August (also known as Fogust) visibility can be troublesome when the thick Pacific Northwest fog rolls in making it impossible to a few feet ahead of you. In talking with the locals, September has fewer crowds and better weather.

There are three main breaks:

Cox Bay (Tofino): This surf spot is closer to the entrance of Tofino. It’s a great place to learn and tons of surf shops/schools giving people lessons on the inside break. On a big day, the paddle outside can be daunting because of the consistent hammering of the wave with no breaks in between and the tide pushing you fairly quickly. This is next to Cox Lodge so foot traffic is at times busier than the rest of the spots. Bathrooms are generally clean with showers.

Wickaninnish Beach also known as Wicks (Ucluelet): Wicks was our favorite spot and spent a few days surfing this fun wave. People were getting really long rides. You can find a left or a right break depending on where you’re in the water. There is a big rock island south of the beach with a picture perfect curl, however after talking to some locals there seem to be some hidden rocks and the current can be tough around that area. Bathrooms here were some of the cleanest, I’ve seen for a publish bathroom with plenty of showers.

Florencia Bay also is known as Flow (Ucluelet): Although we weren’t able to surf this spot because of the whiteout foggy condition, some of the locals told us when big swells come in Flow has some of the cleanest breaks in the area. No showers but, there may have been an Outhouse.


Overall this is a great place to surf and visit. Other activities include kayaking tours, plenty of rainforest/beach hikes for all levels, whale watching tours and hot springs. A true surfing town with a whole lot of spirit. Let’s keep this coast pure!!!


courtesy to Long Beach Maps

Top 7 Paddle Techniques for Surfing

Top 7 Paddle Techniques for Surfing

1. Keep your body and board parallel to reduce drag.

Often times when surfers start out they’re too far back or forward on the board leaving too much of the back of your body in the water or too much front of the body into the water slowing the surfer down. Keep the body straight and flat like a freestyle swimmer would. This makes the surfer more arrow dynamic in the water.
In Figure 1: The surfer is leaned too much towards the back of the surfboard causing drag.
In Figure 2: The surfer is leaned too far forward which not only causes drag but, will slow the paddle because it now takes extra effort to lift the arms out of the warm. Also, this often results in a nose dive on take off or dropping into the wave.
In Figure 3: The body of the surfer is perfectly positioned being level and keeping the body flat to propel through the water more efficiently.

2. Keep your body in a straight line

Often times when new surfers paddle, their body isn’t in a straight line causing energy wasted. If the body isn’t straight the surfer often rocks back and forth or yawing. The best way to demonstrate this is to watch the video below of Kelly Slater vs Taylor Clark paddle differences. Taylor yawing actually slows him down compare to Kelly’s perfect paddle making him fast and efficient. This can be attributed to Kelly’s body position being straight and arrow dynamic letting him glide through the quickly.

3. Kick and Paddle into Waves

The paddle and kick combo takes a little to get use to but done correctly will help surfers get into the wave faster. Imagine swimming with just paddling with your arms. When you look at swimmers they always use their arms and feet regardless of the type of swim style. This also applies in surfing but, we don’t recommend kicking to position. The surfers body is usually flat and not in the wave until actually paddling for the wave.

4. Build Your Paddle Strength

When new surfers start out, often times there is a struggle because the body is not familiar with shoulder and core muscles. It does take a time to obtain and build these areas of the body so surf and surf often. There are a ton of surfing types of exercises you can find on youtube but, getting in the water as frequent as possible will in the end be better.

5. Dig and Extend Paddle Strokes

How bad do you want to get into the wave? Dig deep into the paddle and extend the stroke to push your whole body through. Once the surfer has found this rhythm and use this technique, the surfer will retain this feeling through muscle memory and try to apply this form to get into more breaks. When surfers dig deep and fully extend their arms, they’re utilizing more surface area of the arm and will help push through the water faster.

6. Match Volume to Weight to Reduce Drag

This one is to the surfers discretion because experience surfers some time use less volume to be more agile and maneuverable on the wave. View the board article written HERE to match weight to surfboard volume.

7. Keep Elbows Up When Paddling

This point goes back to point one reducing drag where keeping your elbow high will also reduce drag in your paddle. In addition, it can provide for a deeper stroke if done correctly. In this form, the body will be aligned with the elbow therefore, keeping the body from the rocking or yawing effect and a more efficient paddle through the water. Refer to the Kelly Slater vs Taylor Clark video above.

Futures Fins – John John Florence Medium Techflex Thruster (2016 Colorway)
Futures Fins – Rob Machado Thruster

Fin Basics


Larger fins will have more hold and control and more ideal for larger waves. Smaller fins are skatier and looser for more maneuverability. Also, there are weight requirements per fin size.

120lbs. and under
120lbs. – 155lbs.
145lbs. – 175lbs.
175lbs. – 200lbs.
190lbs. and up



The bottom part of the fin which attach to the board with allen screws. With FCS the allen screws usually attaches from the side (there are newer FCS technology which you can simply pop the fins in without screws) and with Futures there attached on the bottom of the base. The longer and wider the base, the more smooth in the turn transition and the ability to follow through the turn smoothly. With a smaller slimmer and shorter base, there is more ability for sharper turns. Below you’ll see the differences between FCS and Future fins.


The Fin Rake is refered to as the angle/arc of the fin. Fins with more angle and less sharp stance are generally used to for those large waves and smooth transitions in riding the longer waves. Fins with more of sharp angle and more fin in the water will provide quicker turns and movements in smaller sections.


The movement of the water through the fin. I found a couple of different shapes listed below.
• Flat Foil – generally allows riders to pivot quickly through turns while giving them really good overall control. This is the most common foil pattern.
• Inside Foil – a more advance design built to reduce fin drag riders can manage and increase their speed in heavy sections.
• 80/20 Foil – This center fin is built for increase speed and smooth transitions in various conditions.
• 50/50 Foil – The most common center fin and provides built evenly to allow water to pass through evenly. Good hold and control.

Surfboard Basics

There is no right or wrong board size. The best board is the one you ride the best and enjoy. This could mean that it has more or less volume then the next guy. Everyone has a different body type so select the board that works with your ride style. Below you’ll find the basic of boards as it relates to shapes, sizes and tail patterns.



Stand Up Paddle Board

Generally 10’6 or 11 feet but, there are smaller ones for SUP surfing. This board has a ton of volume so you can stand up and cruise around with a paddle.


Can be as long as a SUP but, has less volume so surfers are paddling into waves with their arms rather than a plastic or carbon paddle.


Are often in the 7’10” and 8 feet range. Rides more like a longboard but easier to carve as riders don’t have to dig or lean into their turns as much.


Ideal for big wave surfing such as Jaws or Mavericks. This board has more volume compared to a SHORTBOARD to easily paddle into big waves.


Range from 5 feet to 6 feet plus. When selecting the right SHORTBOARD, board volume and height should match surfers weight and height to maximize paddling efficiency.


Has more volume compared to a SHORTBOARD but, these boards are shorter and wider.


Board sizes are based on average skills and paddle strength. This chart doesn’t reflect or factor board volume.


Rider Weight Board Size
100 – 145 5’2″ – 5’8″
145 – 165 5’8″ – 6’0″
165 – 185 6’0″ – 6’5″
185 – 205 6’0″ – 6’6″
205 + 6’7″ +


Rider Weight Board Size
100 – 145 5’1″ – 5’5″
145 – 165 5’5″ – 5’9″
165 – 185 5’8″ – 5’11”
185 – 205 5’9″ – 6’2″
205 + 6’2″ +


Rider Weight Board Size
100 – 145 7’0″ – 7’2″
145 – 165 7’2″ – 7’4″
165 – 185 7’6″ – 7’8″
185 – 205 7’8″ – 7’10”
205 + 7’10” – 8′


Rider Weight Board Size
100 – 145 8’0″ – 8’6″
145 – 165 8’6″ – 9’0″
165 – 185 9’0″ – 9’6″
185 – 205 9’0″ – 9’6″
205 + 9’6″


Rider Weight Board Size
100 – 145 8’0″ – 8’6″
145 – 165 8’6″ – 9’0″
165 – 185 9’0″ – 10’6″
185 – 205 10’6″ – 11’0″
205 + 11’0″ +


Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) also known as styrofoam

Pros Con
Resin mends with EPS Foam because the foam isn’t as dense and can seep into the foam for better contact. Absorbs water.
Light weight. EPS Foam is expensive.
Easy to shape and manipulate. The chemicals are bad for the environment.
Small repairs are easy to do with Suncure or Solarez. Not to be left out in the sun (need to let the cell breath) because the foam can heat up.
Floats well and flexible. Blank foam templates are machined and not handcrafted.

Extruded Polystyrene (XPS)

Pros Con
The foam is dense making it hard for water to absorb. XPS Foam is expensive.
Light weight. Doesn’t bond to resin as well.
XPS foam is durable. Can easily delaminate.
Easier to shape and sand down to the perfect shape. The foam needs to breath because of gas build up so companies are introducing vents (Thermovents) in these boards.


If you’re able to take anything away from this page it should be volume by surfers weight. When starting out, it is best to have the correct volume to the surfers weight. The more volume the easier it is to paddle and stand up on the board. Maximize your time in the water by finding the correct volume in the chart above. Please understand, the chart above is for an average surfer with intermediate skill level. If you are a beginner you may add a few more liter and subtract a few liter if you’re an expert.

Traditional Surfboard Tail Patterns and What They Do



These days there are so many different types of surfboard tail patterns but the ones mentioned below are what we’ve tested and the most common. Every tail pattern does different things from stability to maneuverability. Match the one that fits your style of riding.

The Squash Tail

The Squash Tail is one of the most common among all surfboards. The tail itself will provide the surfer good hold because there is a little more drag on the tail. Generally, speaking people do start with this tail pattern and shift or test other pattern that defines their ride style. If not sure about what tail pattern to go with, then we would recommend the squash tail because it handles well in all kinds of conditions and progress from there.

The Swallow Tail

From our experience the Swallow Tail does provide the surfer good hold but, the shortboards we generally rode were fast when it was a swallow tail. Trying this tail for the first time can take a bit to get use to as cause of the skatie feeling we go from the boards we tested. These tail patterns are usually on high performance boards. A good example is Mick Fanning riding a DHD swallow tail.

The Pin Tail

A lot of surfers usually select the Pin Tail because less drag on the tail so these tails are usually used for bigger waves to generate enough speed to get in and out of the waves without getting clobbered. It’s not unusual to surf these in smaller waves but, most big wave surfers will use a pin tail.

The Fish Tail

Fish surfboards usually have a lot of volume for smaller waves. These boards are great for bigger wider turns like how you would ride a longboard. The fish surfboards are really fun and one of the popular fish these days would be a Mini Simmons.

The Round Tail

The Round Tail is a little looser as the tail is smooth and there are no hard points. It can feel a little skatie and some times does take time to get use to. With that said, surfers like these because of the maneuverability of this tail and performance is great for more advance surfers.

The Bat Tail

The Bat Tail does have a wider tail and rounded with points so we’ve seen good transition with hold. We’ve seen most of these boards as a quad fin setup and can be surfed in various conditions.


There are many more shapes and sizes but these are the most common. We’ve test multiple shortboards with these shapes and the outcome are listed above.

Build a Portable Shower for under $35

Below are the items to build a portable shower.

1. $14.99 Greenwood 2 Gallon Garden Sprayer. Harbor Freight Item Number 95690

This was purchased at a local Harbor Freight. They had different capacity tanks from 1.25 gallon, 2 gallon and a 5 gallon backpack. The 2 gallon seems like a good size to haul around while giving you enough water to last you about a dozen surf sessions.

Buy on Amazon here: 2 gal. Home and Garden Sprayer from TNM

2. $4.39 3/8 inch x 1/4 inch Push Connect – Push Fit Coupling. Lowes Item Number 748571

Take off the Harbor Freight spray nozzle and connect the barb push connect to the sprayer line.

Buy on Amazon here: Tru-Flate 21-143 1/4″ NPT Male Fitting x 3/8″ ID Hose Barb Type Fitting

3. $0.45 one foot of 1/2 inch PVC Tubing. Lowes Item Number 748277

Lowes sells this tubing by the foot so cut off about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 of the tube with a cutter.

Buy on Amazon here: Duda Energy LPpvc050-010ft 10′ x 1/2″ ID Low Pressure Clear Flexible PVC Tubing Heavy Duty UV Chemical Resistant Vinyl Hose Water Oil

4. $1.48 two count #4 clamps 1/4 inch to 5/8 inch. Lowes Item Number 417876

You’ll need three clamps so buy two bags. Attach and tighten on both sides of the 3/8 inch x 1/4 inch.

Buy on Amazon here: Size 4 (1/4″ ~ 5/8″) All Stainless Hose Clamp, 1/2″ Bandwidth, Pack of 10

5. $6.79 1/2 inch barb to 3/4 inch hose connector. Lowe Item Number 748333

Clamp on the 1/2 inch barb.

Buy on Amazon here: Anderson Metals Brass Garden Hose Fitting, Connector, 1/2″ Barb x 3/4″ Male Hose

6. $4.98 Orbit Metal Compact Dial. Lowes Item Number 417876

Wrap a little teflon tape to the 3/4 inch hose connector to prevent water leaking. Make sure all connectors are tight.

Buy on Amazon here: Best Garden Hose Nozzle (HIGH PRESSURE TECHNOLOGY) – 8 Way Spray Pattern – Jet, Mist, Shower, Flat, Full, Center, Cone, and Angel Water Sprayer Settings – Rear Trigger Design – Steel Chrome Design

7. $1.48 Blue Hawk 0.6-in x 43-ft Plumber’s Tape

Buy on Amazon here: Teflon Thread Seal Tape PTFE Thread Seal Tape 1/2″ x 260″

Watch the video below to put it all together