A Boat Tour to Hot Springs Cove, Maquinna Marine Provincial Park

Most of Day 16, May 11th, was taken up by a visit to Hot Springs Cove. I’ll start this post by copying the review that I posted on TripAdvisor, where I rated it “Average”: “I visited Hot Springs Cove in 1991 and had fond memories of it. Four of us had this spectacular place to ourselves. Last week, our boat with 10 people was the first one there, and that was already far too many people. Four people can soak comfortably at high tide – any more get less and less hot water to sit it. By the time we left there were about 25 people and it was ridiculous – the changing facilities are also inadequate for more than about 15 people. It’s a great boat ride to get there (our captain with Ocean Outfitters, Travis, was extremely good), and the forest boardwalk is spectacular, so I might do it again some day, but I probably won’t bother even bringing a bathing suit. BC has some incredible hot spring experiences where you can have a wonderful soak in amazing scenery – this one doesn’t belong on that list.”

We’ve been getting a lot of rain, but this morning it got heavier and heavier, and by the time we started for Tofino just before 09:30, it was really coming down. Because of the rain, for the first time ever, I took Cathy’s little Nikon, a Coolpix L840, rather than my expensive Canon.

Heavy rain at Green Point Campground, Pacific Rim National Park
Ocean Outfitters is a very professional operation. They have every aspect of running tours down to a quick and simple process.

Ocean Outfitters, Tofino
Walking down to our boat, the “Miss Chief”, which is the furthest yellow one.


C-GIJN is a 1976 Cessna A185F Skywagon that’s operated by Atleo River Air Service.

C-GIJN, a 1976 Cessna A185F Skywagon that's operated by Atleo River Air Service.
A better look at the Canadian Coast Guard ship “Bartlett” that we’d seen in the harbour the day before.

Canadian Coast Guard ship Bartlett in Tofino
Another Coast Guard vessel, the “Cape Kuper”, had arrived while we were walking to our boat. She’s a SAR Lifeboat that was built in Victoria in 2005, and is now based in Victoria.

Coast Guard SAR Lifeboat Cape Kuper
Our boat is a fine piece of equipment – fairly new, powerful, and comfortable – and Travis really impressed me both as a captain and a tour guide. The seas were reported as 1.7 meter swells, so not bad. Certainly nothing like what we had back in ’91 – I remember that as being a very rough/nauseating ride.


This looked like a good place for sea otters, and Travis told me later that that’s why he pulled in, but we didn’t see any.


I was thrilled by the number of Steller sea lions that were on Cleland Island – hundreds of them.

Steller sea lions on Cleland Island north of Tofino, BC

Steller sea lions on Cleland Island north of Tofino, BC
The rain kept pounding down but the visibility wasn’t bad so it was okay. Two women got seasick, though. One did it silently off the back of the boat, but the other spewed in the cabin a few times despite the captain’s requests to get outside. I got some paper towel from him to stem the nasty flow under the seats.

A rainy boat tour day out of Tofino, BC
This little lighthouse sits on Sharp Point at the end of the Openit Peninsula, close to the hot springs.

This little lighthouse sits on Sharp Point at the end of the Openit Peninsula, close to the hot springs.
This dock is the main access point to Maquinna Marine Provincial Park, the core of which was created on January 7, 1955, to protect the hot springs. On the opposite side of the inlet is the Hesquiaht First Nation village of Hot Springs Cove.

Hot Springs Cove, Maquinna Marine Provincial Park
Park information panels at the shore end of the dock.

Hot Springs Cove, Maquinna Marine Provincial Park
A boardwalk has been built for the entire 2 km route from the dock to the hot springs. Many of the planks have been replaced with carved ones made by boat owners. It’s a pretty cool form of ship signature.

Boardwalk at Hot Springs Cove, BC
The old-growth rainforest you walk through to reach the hot springs is extremely impressive.

Boardwalk at Hot Springs Cove, BC
This is where you first see the hot water of Sharp Point Hot Springs.

Hot Springs Cove, BC - Sharp Point Hot Springs
This is Hot Springs Cove, once called Refuge Cove and used as a small safe harbour.

Hot Springs Cove, BC, once called Refuge Cove
This hot waterfall feeds the pools.

Waterfall at Hot Springs Cove, BC - Sharp Point Hot Springs

Waterfall at Hot Springs Cove, BC - Sharp Point Hot Springs
Except at very low tide levels, this is the main pool. The further you are from the waterfalls, the less hot the water is. Judging it against my hot tub which I keep at 105°F (40.6°C), this pool is about 102/38.9 degrees. An earthquake in January 2015 shut off the heat to the springs for a short while, but it apparently was soon back to pre-quake temperatures.

Hot Springs Cove, BC - Sharp Point Hot Springs
Four people in the main pool, another couple in the next pool towards the waterfalls.

Hot Springs Cove, BC - Sharp Point Hot Springs
A look at the entire hot springs from the sea, an hour and 20 minutes before high tide.

Hot Springs Cove, BC - Sharp Point Hot Springs
As I started to walk back to the dock just before 2:00 pm, the rain had almost quit.

The boardwalk and old-growth forest at Hot Springs Cove, BC

The boardwalk and old-growth forest at Hot Springs Cove, BC

The boardwalk and old-growth forest at Hot Springs Cove, BC
Outhouses are located a few hundred meters/yards from the hot springs.

Outhouses at Hot Springs Cove, BC
This large sea cave is on the Openit Peninsula.

A sea cave on the Openit Peninsula

Travis took a long wandering route back to Tofino, through an intricate series of channels. It was exceptionally scenic, but I didn’t take any photos because the camera had died as I left the hot springs. Oh well…

The weather improved greatly, and Happy Hour this evening was spent whale watching from the front windows of the RV while sharing a large bottle of beer from Tofino Brewing. It was quite successful – in one 10-minute period, we saw 4 grey whales cruising by quite close to shore.

Whale watching from our RV at Long Beach, BC


Comments

A Boat Tour to Hot Springs Cove, Maquinna Marine Provincial Park — 1 Comment

  1. I revisited this post and enjoyed again the ocean and travel shots, though it’s easy to see how the specialness of the day and location can be ruined somewhat by a few too many fellow travellers or the wrong mix of folks. What a great location, would be fun to see it on a sunny day and through the lense of your better camera.