Hot Springs Cove

Geothermally heated waters bubble up through the rocks before tumbling into the sea at one of Vancouver Island’s most remarkable natural attractions.

Nature becomes a luxurious spa at Hot Springs Cove, a secluded corner of Vancouver Island’s coastline where thermal waters cascade into the ocean. This wilderness waterfall is not only a geothermic marvel, but also a scenic natural escape. Dip into the heated pools and gaze out at the open ocean views.

The water here flows through a fissure deep underground, where it is heated to temperatures as high as 228 F (109 C) before being forced back to the surface. Once back in the open it gets cooler in natural pools of about 122 F (50 C). Watch the steam rising off the river, giving an immediate impression of the water’s warmth.

Stroll along a boardwalk through the woodland to find a swimming spot. The walk, which takes about 30 minutes, leads through a grove of green cedar trees and runs alongside the river as it cools.

Soak in one of the still pools and sit beneath the torrent of the waterfall for a powerful natural shower. The consistent warm water temperatures ensure comfortable visits at any time of year.

Although the springs are popular, local authorities have resisted the temptation to turn the cove into a tourist hotspot and the area remains largely undeveloped. Relax and enjoy the uninterrupted scenery along the other side of the cove. Watch for the whales that frequent the waters around Clayoquot Sound.

Beat the crowds to the springs by staying nearby. Accommodations are available near the cove, which allows visitors regular access to the geological phenomenon.

Hot Springs Cove is not an easy destination to find. Join a tour group from Tofino, which is about 30 miles (50 kilometers) southeast of the springs. Guides will then take you by boat or seaplane to this exclusive spot on the rugged coastline of Vancouver Island. Combine your trip to the springs with whale watching or a longer exploration of the island’s beautiful shores.