If you’re both a bath and nature lover like me, what could be better than soaking in a natural hot spring located in the remote north end of Clayoquot Sound while listening to birds warble and the surf gently rush in?

Each time I travel to Tofino, friends tell me that I must visit Hot Springs Cove. This time, I finally had my chance with Ocean Outfitters, an adventure tourism company that offers several exciting excursions such as whale and bear watching, fishing charters, private charters, kayaking, and nature cruises.

Ocean Outfitters also provides an informative, fun and relaxing six-hour excursion to Hot Springs Cove which is located 30 nautical miles from Tofino, British Columbia, in Maquinna Provincial Park. It includes a three-hour (return) boat ride that explores both the outer islets along the west coast and the inner tranquil waters of Clayoquot Sound. You get three full hours to explore and relax in the hot springs once you’re there!

Wildlife Viewing

Travis, who has worked with Ocean Outfitters for four years and previously on tall ships, was on the lookout for wildlife the entire time.

DSC_2450 Travis, our guide (left) and the rest of the group

We found loads of sea lions, seals, a couple of sea otters, cormorants and other sea birds. We even spotted a humpback whale on the way back!

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The Hesquiaht First Nations Community

Travis also shared historical tidbits about Clayoquot Sound such as the Hesquiaht First Nations community situated at Hot Springs Cove. It existed previously at the head of the bay at Refuge Cove until the 1964 tsunami decimated the village and displaced the community. It was rebuilt here in 1972 and has a current population of 55.

_TVP9156 The Hesquiaht First Nations Community in the background

A Floating B & B

Travis also pointed out a very cool floating bed and breakfast anchored in Hot Springs Cove called The Innchanter. It provides luxury accommodations and meals prepared by a gourmet chef! It includes five state rooms and a 700 square foot sundeck. Now, wouldn’t this be a unique place to stay?

Three Hours of Relaxation!

Once we arrived at the government wharf in Hot Springs Cove, we had three full hours to explore this beautiful remote location.

The hot springs are an easy 1.5 kilometre, or half hour, boardwalk hike through a beautiful evergreen rain forest. It took me approximately half an hour to meander my way there.

I knew I was close to the hot springs when I noticed steam rising from a forest stream. I was excited to find the hot spring pools and test the waters!

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Being Prepared

If you’re wondering whether to wear your bathing suit underneath your clothing or just bring it, there is a covered shelter with private change stalls at the hot springs location. Pack a bag with a towel, bathing suit, and any comfy clothes you’d like to change into later for your relaxing walk back to the zodiac.

Be sure to bring lots of water. It’s easy to dehydrate in a hot spring. Also pack yourself a picnic lunch since you’ll be gone for a long period of time. And, of course, on hot summer days, wear sun screen and a hat.

Travis had warned us before leaving the zodiac to remove any silver jewelry before dipping into the hot springs. The reason for this? Silver tarnishes when exposed to sulphur-containing gasses! You can test this out with a silver spoon and boiled egg yolk in a closed container. Or, like me, you can forget to take your silver ring off. My ring turned a dark brown. Argh! Luckily after a few days the tarnish rubbed off and my ring is back to normal.

One handy addition to my day pack that I’d bring the next time are water shoes. The rocks in the hot springs are slippery!

The Hot Spring Pools

A pleasantly hot waterfall cascades into a few small pools. Each pool becomes a little cooler the closer you wade to the ocean. The first pool is fairly hot, like a hot tub would be.

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The further pool is warm and infused with cold ocean water each time a wave rushes in. It’s rather refreshing!

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Everyone had a great time with Ocean Outfitters. Travis took good care of us and gave us an amazing tour of Clayoquot Sound and its wild inhabitants. The hot springs are a definite must when visiting Tofino!

One enthusiastic member of our group really didn’t want to leave. I can’t blame him! It’s amazing! He seriously considered skipping the boat ride back so he could spend the night enjoying the hot springs. That didn’t happen as Ocean Outfitters was responsible for us, but if that’s something you’re interested in doing there are options. You can charter a boat and camp for $20 per night or, of course, you can stay at the Innchanter Bed and Breakfast!

Making a Difference

I was thrilled to learn that Ocean Outfitters supports local environmental projects and programs, and is actively involved in efforts to support local wolves, bears, cougars, and wild salmon in Clayoquot Sound.

Most of the trip fees go towards the numerous initiatives Ocean Outfitters is involved with including:

  • Tranquil Watershed Restoration Initiative
  • Cedar Coast Field Station Initiatives
  • Tribal Park Allies
  • Climate Action
  • Wild Salmon Initiative
  • Coexistence Initiative
  • Community Leadership
  • Get Wild Sponsor
  • Green Business
  • Synergy Composting Initiative
  • Tidepool Guardian Program

More About Ocean Outfitters

Ocean Outfitters offers several exciting adventure excursions led by experienced and knowledgeable guides, many of whom have grown up exploring Clayoquot Sound.

Shop for outdoor gear, garments and books in their amazing store, or even relax and have a hot bevvy! Find them at 368 Main Street in Tofino, BC. Visit their website or call them at 1-250-725-2866