Rainforest Hike to Hidden Hot Springs

Hot Springs Cove on Vancouver Island

Located on the far flung rugged west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Tofino is set on Clayoquot Sound, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with old-growth rainforest, barely touched beaches, and mountains skyrocketing from the sea. If you just have a day here, don’t miss Hot Springs Cove, a hidden waterfall of hot springs cascading into a series of natural pools that flow out to the sea. The oases have been in creation for over 160 million years, as water running through a fault 3 miles underground gets heated, then pushed up through fractured rocks. The result is pure wilderness magic. Reached only by boat or floatplane, followed by a 1.25-mile hike through a rainforest, the naturally occurring pools at Hot Springs Cove range from super warm to just right (or try the hot-cool prickly mix where the ocean merges with the springs). Go by boat with Whale Center outfitters and you're likely to see grey whales en route, along with bald eagles and sea otters. Disembark at the cove and make your way along a beautiful boardwalk through lush green forest that's purely meditative. At the hot springs, change into your swim gear (water shoes recommended too—the entry points are rocky and slippery). Then sink into a bone-warming 105 degrees. Moving from pool to pool takes you from hot to cool. Bring a picnic or belly up to Copper Moon Cafe at the dock, where you can get everything from burgers to hot chocolate before saying goodbye to this unforgettable adventure.

STAY: There's a reason Tofino's Wickaninnish Inn was just named the #1 resort in Canada for the second year in a row by Travel + Leisure. With the Pacific right outside its doors, and an old-growth temperate forest in the background, the rustically elegant 75-room gem is set exclusively on Chesterman Beach. All rooms have views of the ocean or the beach and feature floor-to-ceiling windows. The Pointe Restaurant here offers delicious West Coast cuisine, and regionally sourced wines from the Okanagan make nice pairings. It’s a splurge and it’s worth it.

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