When the weather isn't great for skydiving, we try to take advantage of the downtime by exploring other businesses and destinations on Vancouver Island. Yesterday we finally got to experience a place we have wanted to go to for many years ~ Hot Springs Cove near Tofino. I cannot fully capture in pictures or words how amazing the entire trip was, however, I will do the best I can to share with you why you should add this experience to your Destination Bucket List!
We made this a day trip and left Qualicum Beach at 7:30 in the morning to make the 10am suggested arrival time at Ocean Outfitters in Tofino. Getting there with enough time to check in, I was super excited to see that they offered a full coffee bar right in their office and a beautifully laid out waiting area. The natural design and flow of Ocean Outfitters made us feel right in place with the West Coast vibe. The check in process was quick and the safety briefing was understandable, concise, and educational. As we made our way down to the covered tour boat, our guide Oren was there to greet us and already had the heat cranked inside the boat! There was 10 passengers on the tour and the boat allowed plenty of room for us all. We were allowed to stand or sit and even explore the outside back deck as we felt comfortable to do so.
Our boat tour journey begin by heading up the Inside passage past Ahousat on Flores Island. We tried to look for some whales and wildlife along the way but Mother Nature wanted no part in that as the snow began to fall over the water. It was hard to see anything but it added a different sense of anticipation to the journey. Oren, our guide, was telling us some great information about the area and his experience growing up on Wickaninnish Island. In just over an hour we were coming around the corner to the Hot Springs and feeling the fun of the open ocean waves. As we docked, we could see that we were the first to be up to the springs that morning as there was about 2 inches of snow on the dock and not a single foot print. It was truly a beautiful sight and one Oren said he had only seen a couple times in all the years he has been travelling up to the Hot Springs.
Once off the boat we began the trek along the boardwalk that craved it's way through the beauty of Vancouver Island's Rain Forests. We were awed by the mere idea that someone had once discovered these Hot Springs and decided to build a boardwalk so that others could enjoy it! It turns out that the boardwalk actually was built in the 1800s by early settlers who followed the trails created by the local Natives. In 1995 it was rebuilt by BC Parks. The boardwalk in of itself was a stunning experience that after a good 30 minute walk lead you right to an outside changing area that overlooked the Hot Springs and ocean.
What we loved most about the Hot Springs themselves, is that they weren't altered by man in anyway. You had to carefully walk down to them and find a spot among the 3 pools that sat nestled between huge rock walls. At the start was a stunning waterfall that was like sitting under a hot shower. Each pool had a slightly different temperature with the hottest being closest to the waterfall and the coolest closest to the ocean. It was the most relaxing moment I believe I have ever encountered.
After spending a good hour in the Hot Springs we made our way back to the boat where we were pleasantly greeted by a West Coast Snowman! He was pretty clever and photo bombed a few of our pictures! By this time the snow had stopped and the sun began to break through some of the blue holes in the sky!
If we had thought that this trip couldn't get any better, we were about to be blown away! Just 10 minutes into our journey back to Tofino we had the awesome privilege to watch a family of killer whales celebrate after a successful hunt! It was incredible to see these beautiful creatures and after a spectacular 30 minute show we continued on our way. Oren explained that it was herring season and that was beginning to attract some of the wildlife known to the area like the whales. We saw a few eagles also taking in the opportunity to feed, along with seals, and sea otters. Then there was these birds that seemed to always be racing the boat (and might I add kicking our butt). Surf Scoters (I think that was what they are called) are said to travel at speeds reaching 100km/h and they are a bit smaller than a seagull.
Just when we thought our adventure was complete, we came across not one but 2 huge Grey Whales searching for their feast along the shore lines. These big guys seemed to also be enjoy the sunshine as they surfaced a few times for us to say hello. It was an absolutely perfect way to wrap up the six hour tour adventure and a rare opportunity to see all that the the wonders of the west Coast has to offer!
Without question it was an amazing day! Everything from the awesome staff at Ocean Outfitters to the final drive home. With a final stop to take in the sunset at Incinerator Rock. We are so incredibly blessed to live on Vancouver Island where some of the best destinations are right here at our door step! Whether you are planning your getaway or just looking to escape the everyday, we strongly recommend a trip to Hot Springs Cove!