Tofino is a magical little peninsula located on the west side of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. If you haven’t been, think pristine beaches, small town, and epic surfing. Often I find myself daydreaming how simple life could be as a Tofino surf bum… wake up, surf, get breakfast, surf, get lunch, take a nap and then… the crux of the day: surf and sleep or hit Shelter Restaurant and socialize into the night.
For committed surf bums, this is enough entertainment to last a lifetime. For those on the brink, this routine can make you go a little loopy. That is why it is important to break free (like Ariana Grande), hop on a boat or plane and pop the bubble the beach dwelling culture affords. From water or sky (we recommend both), view the pristine coastline and many magical islands surrounding Tofino, and realize how expansive of a place Vancouver Island really is.
Or at least, this was the case for me… I had spent so much time in Tofino surfing, eating and house partying but had never ventured farther than the surf break. To change this, I grabbed some friends and set out to Hot Springs Cove. If you have a boat (a real boat not an explorer 3000) you can go out without a tour, but if you are like most of us, to get there you will have to join a tour. We signed up with Ocean Outfitters on their boat & fly package to the Hot Springs Cove, talk about setting up for #TumblrGold! On our way there we weaved through the islands and into the open water. While venturing 27 nautical miles north-west of Tofino, we saw grey whales breaching, spouts of water spewing and seals lounging on their private islands. It was like we received a bonus wildlife boat tour on the way to the dock that marks the start of the trail to the hot springs.
The walk in is half the fun, the trees are so beautiful and the path is a hovering deck that journeys above the forest floor with carved out messages from previous visitors. It is easy to get lost in the surroundings as you venture through the rainforest towards the springs. Eventually, you can start to smell the sulphur and see the steam rise from a waterfall to the left. Excitement sets in and we ended up semi sprinting to drop the bags and get our butts down to the cove for some good ol’ BC hot springin’. The hot Springs are nestled in a cove of rocks rushing out from the waterfall above, here is where we parked ourselves. There were so many hidden nooks that it was easy for the other groups to find a secluded area to warm their bodies in the natural hot spring. The feeling you get from Hot Springs is amazing, if you have never experienced it, this gem is a wonderful place to try for your first time.
After some serious soaking, we headed back to the docks to wait for our float plane. This was almost the best part. I had never been in a float plane, so the surreal experience of boarding a plane floating on water and sitting so closely to the pilot was unreal. We lucked out and had a perfectly clear day, allowing us to shoot photos of all the islands littering the coastline.
Like all good things, the 20-minute flight came to an end and we walked away with an SD card full of heaters and smiles from ear to ear.
Thinking about travelling to Tofino? Here are 5 must do’s to help you better plan your trip:
1) Stay here: Pacific Sands
2) Eat here: Shelter Resturant
3) Don’t do this: Stress about finding WIFI or Cell Service… it can wait.
4) Do this: Check out all the local shops, cafes, and the brewery along the main road. My favourites are Tofino Coffee Co., Merge, Storm Surf Shop and The Tofino Brewing Company.
5) Try this: Surfing… don’t let the cold water scare you!
Like the photos in this post? Check out more photography from Nathaniel Atakora on his Instagram.
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