Sunset Magazine's Tour To Hot Springs Cove


Recently we took Sunset Magazine on a tour from Tofino to Hot Springs Cove in Maquinna Provincial Park, 27 nautical miles northwest of Tofino. The 1.5 hour boat ride offers stunning coastline views and the possibility of spotting wild life along the way. Once you arrive at the Hot Springs dock you embark on a 1.5 km cedar boardwalk trial through the rainforest. Be sure to look at the boat names carved into the wooden boardwalk! Pick from seven natural geothermal rock pools that successively cool as you approach the ocean, and enjoy the feeling and the views.

Here is an except from Sunset Magazine's Hot Springs experience: 

So I join a few fellow adventurers from Canada and around America for an hour-long boat ride up to Hot Springs Cove, where geothermally heated water flows through a series of pools at the edge of the ocean. Tim, our captain and a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, guides us around rocky islets and punches through big ocean swells. Along the way, we spot soaring bald eagles, otters, and sea lions. 

Though it’s not raining, I do manage to get plenty wet with salty spray by standing outside the boat cabin, scanning the horizon for whale spouts. Far ahead and just off to the port side, I finally see one. “Two o’clock!” I relay to our captain, who guns the engine and then brings us to a stop in Cow Bay. For the next ten minutes, we watch gray whales—some with bright patches of orange barnacles on their snouts—surface and dive. 

Further north, Tim drops us off at a weathered dock, and we follow the boardwalk trail to the hot springs. Soon, we’re sitting in steaming water that smells faintly of burnt matchsticks, a good 30 miles from the nearest road.

where I end up talking with Pat, a 50-something woman from Ontario with a friendly, ruddy face who admits she’s a bit out of place here. “I’m more of a toes in the water, butt in the sand, beer in the hand kind of gal,” she says. “But I came here to see this—and to hug a big tree.” The previous week, a friend had shown her some photos of this same hot spring; the next day, she dug her bathing suit out of the closet and booked the trip, letting her husband and two adult daughters stay back at home. It’s her first trip to B.C., and she’s here to celebrate a pretty big milestone—after being diagnosed with cancer in 2012, she’s just passed her final screening and been declared cancer-free. 

I mention a bog forest between Tofino and Ucluelet, a place where the red cedars are ancient but stunted and gnarled—forlorn things that could especially use a good hug. “I’m going to check that out,” she says matter-of-factly. 

To escape the heat, I break off from the other bathers and head toward a protected pool of pure ocean water not far from the spring. If the thunderstorms aren’t going to give me the bracing soak I’ve come for, I figure, I’m going to have to do it myself. I inch my way in, then dive forward. But I’m not there for long: One Mississippi, two Mississippi, and I’m back up on the rocks, trying not to howl. Pat’s looking down, bemused, from the ledge above. I make some comment about how there’s nothing like an ice-cold dip to make you feel like you’re really alive, one second before mentally kicking myself. But she just smiles and laughs. - Luke Sykora

To read more about Sunset Magazine's epic west coast adventure click here