Hot Springs Cove
Approximately 27 nautical miles northwest of Tofino lies Maquinna Provincial Park and Hot Springs Cove. These hot springs are naturally occurring, geothermal springs that are completely unaltered. You literally sit down among the rocks, relax, and enjoy. The water pours out of the rocks, over a waterfall, and down through a series of rock pools, meeting the open ocean at the bottom. The temperature of the water as it comes out of the rocks can be as high as 109oC (228oF) but in the pools it tends to average 47oC (117oF), with the higher pools warmer and each pool slightly cooler as you get closer to the ocean. The water is nice and clear and there is only a very faint sulphur smell. At high tide the waves wash into the lowest pools and it can be quite an experience to sit in the warm water and suddenly have a cold wave wash over you!
Travel to the hot springs is a bit limited as they are accessible only by boat or plane. Most of the whale watching companies in Tofino also run hot springs tours or you can take a float plane. If you go by boat it is about an hour and a half boat ride and you can quite often see wildlife along the way. Eagles, seals, sea lions, otters, dolphins, and whales are all possibilities. At this time of year tour operators usually take the “inside route” behind the nearby islands since the swell on the outside can be a bit daunting. This means even folks with a queasy tummy should be able to make the trip.
If you really can’t do boats, or you just want to get there faster, Atleo River Air Service offers 20 minute flights to and from the hot springs. Although some of the tour companies are closed for winter, The Whale Centre and Ocean Outfitters are both still taking daily tours, and the best part about going in winter is you usually have the place to yourself.
Once you arrive at the cove, there is an easy half hour walk through the forest along a boardwalk, allowing you to see some forest flora and fauna up close. Then it’s time to relax and soak for a while before making your way back.