At Hot Springs Cove, geothermal springs trickle out of the lush, coastal rain forest and into a series of pools overlooking the ocean.
Less than 30 nautical miles northwest of Tofino, B.C. — Vancouver Island’s unofficial surfing capital — vacationers slip into their swimsuits without the hassle of a wet suit. At Hot Springs Cove, part of Maquinna Marine Provincial Park, mineral hot springs trickle out of the lush, coastal rain forest and into a series of rock-rimmed pools overlooking the ocean. Bathers take turns weaving through narrow pools and snapping photos of waves crashing onto sea stacks. These geothermal springs are accessible only by private boat, float plane or a 90-minute charter-boat ride from Tofino hosted by multiple outfitters, including West Coast Aquatic Safaris (about $90-$105 U.S.; whalesafaris.com). The boat ride offers dramatic views of Clayoquot Sound’s fjords, mountains and islands, part of a UNESCO-protected biosphere reserve. Our boat spotted 10 gray whales, colonies of sea lions and several otters. Keep an eye out for wolves and bears on shore. This day trip gives visitors a quick glimpse of the wildness and beauty of Vancouver Island’s western coast, while allowing plenty of time to get back for dinner at one of Tofino’s many popular eateries. A long soak and a weekend in Tofino, reached by a 4½-hour, curvy drive from Victoria, can feel like a world away. • More information: tourismtofino.com