Hot Springs Cove - Tofino & Clayoquot Sound Trails
Hot Springs Cove is a wonderful day trip from Tofino. Lots of whale watching companies offer whale watching/hot springs tours for very reasonable prices. The boat ride is out on the open ocean is quite fun and there is a fair bit to see, not least the whales that you hopefully encounter. Along the beautiful, open ocean coastline of Vancouver Island, the swells are huge and the scenery incredible. All sorts of marine wildlife can be seen on the 50 kilometre journey to the Hot Springs. There is even a locally famous eagle nest on a small island just minutes from Tofino. The huge resident stares menacingly down as you cruise past, and even so far above the boat, looks massive.
The whale watching/hot springs tours take less than two hours each way to Hot Springs Cove, and they drop you off at the dock and pick up about three hours later. The hot springs themselves are wonderful, and the 25 minute walk to them is unexpectedly beautiful and interesting.
Intricate cedar boardwalks and bridges move you up and through massive trees and wind through the forest. Years of interesting carvings into the boardwalk planks adorn the route. Hundreds of names of visiting people, groups, and vessels, give the walkway a historic and artistic feel to it.
Along the boardwalk there are a couple very nice viewpoints looking out to the ocean beyond the forest. Upon reaching the hot springs there are some nice, beautifully built, cedar changing rooms and yet another viewpoint. Finally a very short trail takes you to the hot springs.
Flowing through fissures in the rock the amazing 50 degree water (122F) flows from a small waterfall and continues through five wonderfully natural pools that lead to the ocean. Ocean waves occasionally burst into the lower pools in a wonderful contrast of breathtaking cold and wonderful warm water. Keep in mind that there are no food and beverage facilities convenient to the hot springs. Bring lots of food and drink and of course nothing glass in the hot springs. Unlike many other BC hot springs, swimsuits are required here. There are several ways to access Hot Springs Cove. You can take a quick and pricey float plane, whale watching boat tour, or even the leisurely InnChanter Bed & Breakfast cruise.
More Tofino & Clayoquot Sound Trails
Meares Island was the centre of dispute in the 80's when the Nuu-chah-nulth protested Macmillan Bloedel's intent to log the island. The Nuu-chah-nulth together with environmental groups blockaded the island and fought in the courts. The court ruled that until the Nuu-chah-nulth's land claim to the island was settled, no development can occur on the whole of Meares Island. This tremendous victory enabled the creation of The Big Tree Trail and its breathtaking star feature, the Hanging Garden Tree. This monster of a tree. A Western Red Cedar, estimated to be older than 1500 years, is enormous. 18 metres around and magnificently tall, it easily is included among Canada's greatest trees. Flores Island Provincial Park is located just a 40 minute water taxi ($20 scheduled or $25 on demand) ride away. This beautiful, remote and wild feeling island is a popular beach camping destination, relatively close to Tofino. Some of the beautiful beaches have excellent vantage points for whale watching as Gray whales pass here on their annual migration between Alaska and California. The Wild Side Trail runs through a beautiful jungle forest of massive Sitka trees and passes along Whitesands Beach and Cow Bay and leads to Mount Flores. Lone Cone is the wonderful cone shaped mountain that dominates the skyline in Tofino. It is just 6k from Tofino on the north-western end of Meares Island. Lone Cone is an incredible hike to do while in Tofino. There are several attributes that make it fantastic. First, its location. Very close to Tofino. Just a short and very scenic boat taxi takes you to the trailhead. Second, is it is such an abruptly steep hike that you go from the ocean to absurdly sweeping views in just over an hour. Due to the location of Lone Cone requiring a water taxi to access, ensures that it remains serene and quiet most days. In the 15 minute, fast taxi, you will see a quick look at the spectacular scenery that has made Tofino famous. Vargas Island Provincial Park is a popular Kayak camping destination due to its wonderful location close to Tofino. It has wonderful, wilderness camping for free and a beautiful feeling of remoteness from the world. And if you are lucky you might see whales pass in the distance from Ahous Bay. The relaxing trail from the Tofino side of Vargas Island to Ahous Bay is 3 kilometres. Making this an easy day-hike from Tofino or Ucluelet at just 6 kilometres roundtrip, trailhead to trailhead.