What do you get when you are in the middle of nowhere in Clayoquot Sound, and there is a crack in the Earth’s crust that allows superheated mineral water to escape to the surface? You get Hot Springs Cove. During my first adventures in Tofino, I was upset that I couldn’t squeeze a trip out to the Hot Springs. I am back though and I am making a day trip to Hot Springs Cove with Jamie’s Whaling Station a top priority. I better pack my swimming trucks because I’m going to soak in a natural hot springs.
There are a few marine adventure companies in Tofino that offer Hot Springs Cove tours, but the reason I chose Jamie’s Whaling Station is that they are the first to visit the Hot Springs each day. Arrival time is 7:30 am and at this time of the year the sun is just starting to warm the sky. There is a parking lot behind the main office that overlooks the marina, and this is where I park my Honda Accord for the day.
Inside the office, there is some paperwork to fill out and when all of our group has checked in we head down to the dock and our boat to meet Captain Eugene, our guide for the day.
It is life jackets for everyone and then a short safety briefing followed by a brief talk about what to expect for the day. It will take us about 1.5 hours on the water to get to Hot Springs Cove, then we have a 2 km hike to get to the Hot Springs where we will have approximately 1.5 hours to enjoy ourselves. After hiking back to the boat the return journey should take another 1.5 hours which totals up to a 5.5 to 6 hour day. Of course, we may spot some wildlife along the
Of course, we may spot some wildlife along the way and if we do Captain Eugene promises us that we will stop for pictures. As we pull out from the marina we spot our first Bald Eagle of the day. It is just sitting there observing us all. The top of the aerial food chain in Clayoquot Sound.
That first Eagle wasn’t all we saw on the way out to Hot Springs Cove; it was the first of many. We also spotted quite a few Sea Otters floating along the top of the waves. It was a bit too choppy and far away for me to snap any pics that are worth showing, but we did see them.
The last stretch of water is the roughest as we round a point into calmer waters and the dock where Captain Eugene will wait for us while we trek off to the Hot Springs. Last spot for a bathroom break until we hit the springs, so we take advantage of it before beginning the hike.
The hike itself is easy. It is a 2 km walk along a boardwalk constructed through Maquinna Marine Provincial Park. The only thing difficult about the hike is that the boards can be a bit slippery. We are in the middle of a rainforest after all. I find the hike to be meditative as the only sounds I hear come from the forest around me and by focusing one step at a time the 30 minute journey melts away in no time.
I’ve finally reached my destination. I can see steam rise from the geothermal stream of water that is flowing beneath and beside the trail. The trail ends at a changing shack with outhouses located behind for privacy. After a quick change, it is time to explore the springs.
The Hot Springs themselves are in their natural state. As the water escapes the Earth, it flows down into a series of pools and then cascades over a small cliff to form a waterfall and more pools below it. The closer to the top you go the hotter the water is. These pools are natural and not shaped by man, so our group of 11 gets creative and shares the space. It is very uneven and rocky to get to the pools, so I leave my camera behind. I can handle a scrapped knee, but not a broken phone.
If you think an hour or so in the pools are magical you are correct. It really is something you have to experience for yourself. With 30 minutes left of our time at the Hot Springs, I jump out to change and eat the box lunch I brought with me from Long Beach Lodge. I wasn’t alone eating my Chicken and Brie Sandwich as a Stellar’s Jay was watching me the entire time. We aren’t supposed to feed the wildlife but I couldn’t resist sharing my crust just a little bit.
It is time to head back to the boat and return to Tofino. Since we left at 8 am the sky has cleared up and blue sky is above us which makes for easier wildlife spotting.
About 20 minutes from Hot Springs Cove Captain Eugene spots a plume of water. We have an Orca, Killer Whale, sighting. It turns out to be a Transient Pod with two females, a male and two calves. We must observe at least 100 meters distance from them, but this is the cherry on an already amazing day. For 45 minutes we coasted and watched while the Orcas swam and played in the waters in front of us. In fact, one of the Calves breached the water four times for us. WOW is all we could all say.
It is getting time to head home, and we must say goodbye to the Orcas. This is a Hot Springs Cove adventure and wildlife sightings are not guaranteed, but it is AWESOME when it happens. I can’t stress enough how much fun this day was and how glad I am that I was able to make it happen on this trip. Well worth you giving it a try in my opinion.