We love Hot Springs, but we have always ended up at Hot Springs that are at a resort and therefore in a pool. It was about time we took a chance to experience some natural Hot Springs and in picturesque Tofino, Maquinna Provincial Park was a great place to start.
We were originally going to take all the kids with us, but they needed a break to just play at the park and beach. I always say that when you travel with kids that you need to plan your desired activities and then look at the list and get more realistic, perhaps even cutting the list in half. If you take a look at what we got up to on our trip to Vancouver Island in just a week, you’ll see that we didn’t do a great job of it this time. All the early mornings and jam-packed days were taking a toll and we didn’t want to keep pushing, the girls especially. So since we had my sister traveling with us, being the great guy Darcy is, he suggested that he would have a park day with the girls and Diana and I could go have some sister time. Since Jacob was obviously still so reliant on me (two months old), I opted to take him with us. That morning we were also waiting around to check into the new hotel, so I didn’t have the chance yet to pump and store the milk for him. So, we decided the best option was to bring him on a fun adventure.
The boat ride was a scenic hour and a half to Hot Springs Cove, 26 nautical miles north of Tofino. It was a 30 foot covered cabin cruiser, so it was comfortable to sit with Jacob inside and take turns stepping out to the stern viewing deck to take photos of the stunning scenery. Our Skipper Tim was fabulous. He took the time to make sure everyone was doing well and check on the kids that were on board (a couple were feeling seasick), as well as make sure Jacob was doing well. Jacob was a trooper. Even when we hit some rough waters on the way there, the motion put him to sleep and he was just completely chill the whole time.
Once you step off the boat onto the dock, your walk to the Hot Springs begins. It was a half hour walk with many steps; it wasn’t wheelchair friendly at all. The walk was beautiful. Nature totally makes me geek out as I look around in wonder at my surroundings. I’m the one that gets excited to see all the different hues of green mixed together over stumps, or the trees with the Spanish Moss dangling off the branches like hair.
It was fascinating to see the hot springs trickle out of the Coastal Rainforest and into the pools overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I’ll admit that the main Hot Springs area where everyone wanted to cram into wasn’t as big as I thought it would be, but it was still possible to get a spot for a nice soak. It was quite slippery and a little hot for Jacob, so I didn’t take him in too far, but it was still so refreshing and Diana was wonderful helping me out and taking turns with me with Jacob so we could both enjoy the experience.
The water at the very top of the Hot Springs sure was HOT! We couldn’t sit in it, let alone step into it for more than a couple seconds. The water cooled down as it cascaded toward the ocean. And, after you got yourself nice and toasty, it felt so good to jump into the cold waters of the ocean before going back in the Hot Springs to warm up again.
The day started off cloudy in Tofino, but we were headed towards the blue sky and by the time we got back to downtown Tofino, it was beautiful and sunny there too, so Darcy’s day with the girls turned out awesome as well with some time at the park as well as Chesterman Beach. The trip was six hours, so he got in a lot of quality time with Madison and Sadie. And the girls loved every minute of that from what I heard that night. After hearing their stories, I knew we had made the right decision.
What was exciting about this trip as well is all the wildlife we were able to spot during the ride. We were glad that Tim was willing to stop for a few minutes to make sure everyone had a quick look. On the way there and back we spotted some Grey Whales, a Stellar Sea Lion and a Sea Otter laying on his back just chilling in the kelp, floating away with the movement of the water. They were all so fun to see, but we were completely mesmerized by the Grey Whales.
I’ve split up the photos below into the boat ride, the Coastal Rainforest walk to Hot Springs Cove and the Hot Springs. We have so many photos we want to share with you that we thought it best to split up the photos. You will find some of our favourite wildlife photos from the day in our next post right here.
Scenic Boat Ride
Rainforest walk to Hot Springs Cove
Hot Springs Cove
Know before you go:
- If you have some good walking sandals that have good grip (ie. Merrell), you’ll have an easier time climbing over the slippery rocks and through the hot springs area. Water shoes work well, too.
- There is not anywhere to lock up your valuables, so you will want to have a plan. A lot of people put their stuff on the rocks right before the Hot Springs so they could keep an eye on it. I wanted to bring my nice Canon 70D for the boat ride, for the chance we might see some Grey Whales (and we did!) so that is what I did and everything turned out fine. The rest of our stuff went up in a cubby.
- Be prepared for a walk and a lot of steps for you to get to the Hot Springs. It’s about a half hour walk, so you’ll get in a little workout as well.
- The trail is not wheelchair or stroller accessable.
- I wouldn’t recommend it for kids under five, unless you have two hands available to be helping the whole time.
- The boat ride can be rough, so if you’re prone to getting sea sick, be prepared. I have heard it works to start taking Gravol when you go to bed the night before your trip.
- You’ll want to pack a lunch and plenty of water as there is not anywhere to buy any food or drinks.
Have you ever been to any natural Hot Springs? Where? How was it?
Disclaimer: Our Hot Springs experience was sponsored in-part by The Whale Centre in Tofino, BC, but as always, our opinions are our own.