The One Thing You Have to Do in Tofino

This reading break, my best friend and I hopped into a car full of warm clothes and snack food and drove up to Tofino. We didn’t have much planned other than a trip to the hot springs, which turned out to be too good to be true and I couldn’t help but share it.

A week before the trip, I was searching through the Tourism Tofino site and came across some pictures that looked straight out of a lifestyle blogger’s Instagram. As it turned out, there was a natural hot spring just a boat trip away from the shores of Tofino. I’d never been to a hot spring but could picture the steam rising from the water as I sat among rocks with an ocean view spilling out in front of me. As romanticized as sounds, it turned out to be true.

I booked a tour to the hot springs through Ocean Outfitters, a company of adventure specialists that offers whale watching, fishing, kayak tours, and much more. The tour was offered at a lower price during the winter seasons, which suited my bank account just fine. They offered a covered boat or a zodiac for the hour and a half boat ride to the springs. Being the adventure savvy go-getters we are, we chose to take the zodiac.



We suited up into some wacky life vest onesies, designed to keep us warm and alive if the trip suddenly went south. Our boat captain Martin was happy-go-lucky and cheerfully insisted he would stop the boat at any sight of wildlife so we could get a full adventure experience. His promises held true as we zipped across the water and pulled up to a pair of bald eagles perched on a tree. We continued to travel along, with tropical-looking mountain ranges surrounding us and the cold air and sun encasing our bodies. Before too long, we had stopped again, and this time to see a whale! We hadn’t paid for whale watching, but the tour guide was doing his best to show us what nature had to offer. We watched a large female whale surface twice, blowing water and waving her tail before she slipped back into the calm sea.

After an hour and a half, we pulled into Hot Springs Cove and hopped off the boat. We peeled off our onesies, looking like astronauts returning from a space mission, and began our hike to the springs. It was a half-hour trek through the rainforest along a beautiful wooden boardwalk. The smell of rotten eggs and steam rising from the earth greeted us as we entered the springs. The pictures did not disappoint: the area was absolutely gorgeous. We got changed and climbed down the rocks into the hot springs.

Directly to the right, there was a waterfall of cascading bath-temperature water. We wove and climbed among black rock to find shallow pools of water that felt like a hot tub. The last small pool before the ocean was privy to an ocean breeze as the waves crashed onto the rocks.




The tour gives about two hours at the springs before you need to start your hike back in. We had been warned that the pools would be packed, as it was the long weekend, but we had no problems finding a few cozy spots to sit down, relax, and chat with the adventure buddies we’d made along the way. We popped out of the water after an hour and a half to have a snack and enjoy the view before heading back.

On the way back to Tofino, we stopped a few more times to see a few otters, a cave, and a fabled rock wall. The boat ride back was so relaxing my friend even fell asleep. The entire journey took six hours in total, and the chunk of time is well worth what you get to experience. The trip to Hot Springs Cove was the highlight of my Tofino getaway, and I think it would probably be yours, too!