Post Summary: Visiting Hot Springs Cove in Tofino, British Columbia
You did it! You booked that epic weekend trip to Tofino, and you’re ready to have the time of your life exploring this wild part of the west coast.
From the insane ocean swells to breaching whales, this part of the Pacific Northwest is full of unexpected adventure.
If you’re ready to take your Tofino trip to the next level, why not take to the water and explore Hot Springs Cove?
With a boat trip (or floatplane!), a dreamy walk in the rainforest, and being surrounded by the amazing scenery of this gorgeous part of Vancouver Island, the journey is just as amazing as the destination.
In this post, we’re sharing everything we know about Hot Springs Cove near Tofino, and how you can prepare to make it the best part of your trip. Make sure to read to the bottom to get all our juicy tips (and tricks on how to get it all to yourself) to have the best adventure yet.
Have you packed your suit yet? Let’s go!
Book This Epic Adventure To Hot Springs Cove In Tofino, British Columbia
Love hot springs? We do too!
From Oregon, Idaho, and beyond, Berty and I have made it an adventure to try and share the best hot springs in the Pacific Northwest and we’re stoked to share this new adventure with you! Before we begin, here are some of our favorite PNW hot springs to explore (so far!):
- Scenic Hot Springs In The Cascade Mountains
- Alvord Hot Springs in the Oregon Desert
- Burgdorf Hot Springs in the Forest of Idaho
- The Boiling River in Yellowstone National Park
And finally, we’re sharing a refresher on proper hot springs etiquette. Following these guidelines will help you have a clean, relaxing experience, and preserve these delicate spots for years of enjoyment for you and others. Thanks for caring for them with us!
- If you pack it in – pack it out (and then some, too). Bringing back more trash than you came with can set a new standard of cleanliness at natural hot springs.
- Don’t add anything like shampoo or soap (even if it’s ‘biodegradable’). Hot springs water can be stagnant or maybe even run downstream to delicate ecosystems. Keep chemicals out of the water to preserve these systems.
- Keep your pets out of the water. Keeping them out helps keep others healthy and keeps your pet safe from too-hot temperatures.
- Be respectful of other visitors. People come to visit hot springs for various reasons. Be respectful of space, time, and your actions when sharing a soak.
How to Get To Hot Springs Cove In Tofino, BC
There are two ways to reach Hot Springs Cove in Tofino – by boat or by seaplane. The journey is a 20-mile (32-kilometer) trip to the north end of the Clayoquot Sound.
Depending on the time of year and the ocean’s swell, you’ll either take the open ocean route or wind your way through the inner islands (the “inside” route). We’ve mapped the inside route below for your viewing.
Many tour companies in Tofino provide daily excursions to Hot Springs Cove. We encourage you to check out each company and find out which one is right for you. Here are some Tofino tour companies to start your research, but there are still many more to read about!
Hot Springs Cove Boat Tours: (~1.5-hour boat ride each way)
Hot Springs Cove Seaplane Tours: (20-minute flight each way)
Prices vary depending on the time of year, and whether you’d like to be booked on a private hot springs tour or a regularly scheduled one. However, you can expect to pay anywhere between $130 and $150 per person. (as of March 2020)
Getting to Hot Springs Cove, BC By Boat
To begin our own journey to Hot Springs Cove, we ended up choosing Jamie’s Adventure Center for our reservation.
Coming in the winter, we booked our trip on the earlier side of our trip because we knew the weather caused frequent cancellations.
We reserved early (as in the first few days of our trip) so that we could leave a little wiggle room for a reschedule. We’re glad we did because the first day was canceled, but we got booked free of charge for the next day on their tour out!
We arrived early at 9:00 am for our scheduled departure. After checking in and signing some waivers, we were guided to Jamie’s docking site. Here, we met our captain, the other people coming on the tour, and ran through some safety guidelines for the tour.
Our speed boat could fit about 10-12 passengers and the boat captain. It was fully covered, which was nice because, on the way there, it rained and the waves crashed over the side of the boat and got the windows wet!
There was also a back section where you could walk outside and take pictures from the observation deck. It was pretty windy, but a fun experience if you wanted to peek outside.
On the way, we weaved through the inside islands where we were told to keep our eye out for wildlife like wolves and bears onshore, and whales and sea otters on the water. We didn’t spot any on-shore creatures, but we got to see some cute sea otters fishing for their morning breakfast near the boat!
After a little over an hour at sea, we reached Hot Springs Cove on the Openit Peninsula of the northern Clayoquot Sound.
You will dock at the Hot Springs Cove Pier, where your boat captain will wait for you as you enjoy the journey to the hot springs. Listen for the callback time and make sure you plan your day to return for your boat departure time.
Taking The Trail to Hot Springs Cove
- Trail Length to Hot Springs: 1.5-kilometers each way
- Time It Takes Walking To Hot Springs Cove: 30 minutes
Before embarking on the 1.5-kilometer boardwalk, you’ll see some information posted about the trail (like a map and posted news) on a wooden sign. The trailhead is also an opportunity to use amenities like bathrooms and covered picnic areas. We suggest you use these bathrooms, as they are generally better stocked with toilet paper and a bit cleaner.
The hot springs area is protected under the Maquinna Marine Provincial Park, and day-use fees to the park are covered in your tour booking fee!
The journey to Hot Springs Cove is just as beautiful as the springs itself! Take some time to enjoy the quiet ambiance of the rainforest, and be in awe of the ancient giants that surround you.
Reaching Hot Springs Cove
Reaching the end of the trail to Hot Springs Cove feels like you’re walking into a secret corner of the island. You’ll notice the steam come up onto the boardwalk from the river below, and the rocky shores come into view.
At the entrance to Hot Springs Cove, there are bathrooms, two changing stalls, and a covered area with hooks to keep your things out of the rain while you soak.
Love Hot Springs? Check Out The Complete List of Pacific Northwest Hot Springs
Getting In The Hot Springs
Hot Springs Cove in Tofino has seven geothermal pools to choose from. The closest ones to the entrance are the hottest, and then progressively get colder as you reach the ocean.
We found only the first 3-4 to be warm enough to soak in, but you can still climb over the rocks to check out the farther ones for yourself!
Tips For Visiting Hot Springs Cove on Vancouver Island
So, what can you do to make your trip to Hot Springs Cove memorable and fun? Here are some tips to help you have the best time possible!
Pack A Change of Clothes, Water Shoes, and A Towel
To maximize comfort on your trip to Hot Springs Cove, BC, we suggest you bring your swimsuit and change on-site. We chose to bring day packs to carry all our gear.
We also think that packing a pair of water shoes is a good idea since the rocks in the pools can be sharp and/or slippery. You WILL do some climbing to get around in them, so having sure footing is important.
Bring Water and Lunch
To stay hydrated and energized, bring a full water bottle and some snacks to eat before and after your soak at Hot Springs Cove. We opted to pack some of our freeze-dried food from Mountain House and used our Jet Boil to heat up water, but that’s because we had all our camping gear with us!
Alternatively, you can easily stop by a Tofino restaurant and pick up a to-go order and eat it at the hot springs. Just make sure to pack out all your garbage because no receptacles are on site.
Don’t Feed The Dogs
Located at Hot Springs Cove is a pack of dogs from the neighboring community that love to beg for food from visitors. They swim across the water every day, just to see if they can catch a fallen crumb off your sandwich…or steal it all together!
They can become quite a nuisance, so there are plenty of signs that discourage you from feeding them.
If the dogs get used to being fed, they won’t find a reason to return home, and they may get more aggressive. Please leave the dogs alone and don’t feed them (no matter how cute they are!)
Bring a Dry Bag (or something for your phone)
Because Berty and I are travel photographers, we wanted to make sure we documented this trip for you (hence this blog post 😉 ).
Therefore, we brought a dry bag with us into Hot Springs Cove filled with our DSLR camera, our phones, and a small towel as a cushion. We carried it around with us as we switched between pools, setting it on the drier rocks above the water.
If you want to bring your electronics to the pools too, here are some other water-safe cases for you to consider for your trip:
*Bonus*: If you bring a dry bag with you, you can pack away your wet suit and towel on the way out!
Watch Your Step (It’s Slippery)
From frequent use, growing algae, and hot water over the rocks, this place is a jagged slip n’ slide ready to take out its visitors.
If you can, we suggest bringing a pair of water shoes to help you steady your grip when climbing around on the rocks. We also would recommend the three-point rule: keeping at least three points of contact (like two feet and one hand) on the rocks at all times to prevent any accidents.
Book a Trip at the Earliest Possible Time
Departing on our Hot Springs Cove tour from Tofino at 9:00 am sharp, we were the first boat to arrive at the docks. This meant our little group of 8 had the pools to ourselves…but only for about 20 minutes.
After a quick solo soak, several other groups came in one after the other. At the end of our time, there were probably 30 people all squished together in the pools.
We found this to be a good opportunity to meet some new friends (we were literally all touching knees in the pool, haha) but we noticed some people were getting quite frustrated with the crowds.
Before visiting Hot Springs Cove in BC, it’s important to remember that this is a popular tourist attraction. This means it can get crowded, especially on the weekends. Now, we still think it’s worth visiting – we just wanted to tell you this so that you can manage your expectations and still have a great time!
Don’t Want To Share The Hot Springs?
If solitude is important to you, there are a few options to consider – however it is going to cost you a little more time and money. You can book a private charter floatplane to arrive earlier/later than the regular tour groups.
You can also book an overnight stay at Hot Springs Cove Campsite ($20/night), and arrange a private water taxi service for a pick-up the next day. This allows you to walk to the pools in the evening when the tour groups have already left for the day.
Alternatively, you can also book a tour to depart on a weekday. The weekends tend to be the busiest times to visit, so coming on a Tuesday may bring a little more peace and quiet!
Is It Worth The Trip?
So, with the water taxi bookings, crowds, hungry dogs, and the time commitment this brings…is it worth it?
Berty and I say YES! There’s a reason it is popular – the fun soak with crashing waves in the distance, the dreamy rainforest boardwalk, and remoteness of it all is the quintessential adventurous Vancouver Island experience.