Tofino's Hot Springs Cove: How to Have This Amazing Canadian Experience

Insider Guides
by Ashley Welton Dec 21, 2017

Deep in the Clayoquot Sound is Hot Springs Cove, a remote collection of geothermal pools arranged along the ocean’s edge. The heated waters that pour from the rocks are pipin’ hot, averaging about 122°F, but they cool significantly as they get closer to the ocean.

These lands — gorgeous, serene, and secluded — were traditionally used by the First Nations people, specifically the Hesquiaht, Ahousat, and Manhousaht bands. This sheltered cove, once known as “Refuge Cove”, now Hot Springs Cove, provided calm waters for fishermen to wait out inclement weather.

The hot springs, found within the Maquinna Marine Provincial Park, are accessible only by boat or plane from Tofino. By boat, your chances of seeing wildlife — sea otters, whales (in season), sea lions, and bald eagles — are really good. You can choose to take a tour that will certainly stop for all wildlife, or a water transport taxi that probably won’t.

Once you’re dropped off, the adventure begins. A 2km (1.2mi) boardwalk weaves its way through old growth forest before depositing you to the site of the geothermal waterfalls which have been running for thousands of years. Bring sturdy shoes, because you’ll be doing a bit of rock scrambling to get to the pools. Once there, enjoy the soak for as long as you’re able — this is one adventure you don’t want to rush.

How to get there

Hot Springs Cove is accessible by boat or air. There’s a list of companies that currently have a Park Use Permit on the Maquinna Marine Park website. Most of them do tours from Tofino, but you can also arrange a water taxi service for pick up and drop off.

Need help getting to Tofino? Check out these directions.

What to consider

  • Hot Springs Cove is a remote location and requires a full day to see properly.
  • The boat trip takes about 1.5 hours and the plane ride is 20 minutes.
  • The 2km boardwalk to reach the springs has some 800 steps and may not be suitable for people in poor physical condition.
  • Clothing is NOT optional, keep yer britches on.
  • No glass containers in or around the pools, and no alcohol is permitted inside the park.
  • Also, no bathing with soaps etc. is allowed in the pools.
  • If you want to camp, there’s a private campground at the north end of the park (the pools are located on the south end).
  • Camping is rustic and self-pay ($20/per tent per night), with small tent sites.
  • No fires are allowed in the park.
  • There are no stores on site, so bring your provisions and water or you can stop for lunch at the floating Copper Moon Cafe, which is moored at the pier where the sea planes and ferries drop you off at.

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