Orca Whales, Hot Springs & Rough Boat Rides
03.01.2013 - 03.01.2013 9 °C
Today after extending our stay at the Whalers Inn Tofino, due to not having locked down any concrete plans going forward and where we were going, we took a spontaneous trip with local company Ocean Outfitters to the well known Hot Springs Cove, which is apparently the number one Hot Springs in North America. Today was a brilliant day and the sun was actually out for a few hours so we really lucked out.
The trip was around 6hrs and there were about 10 people on the trip so we managed to go out. We took a 30 foot boat out and headed off into the open water. The waves were extremely rough with some good 2-3 metre swells throwing the boat around. I am usually good on boats but this time my sea legs were battling and I was very close to visiting the back of the boat. At one point we dove nose first into a massive wave and everyone just sat still looking a little terrified that the boat would not make it to our destination.
We headed off into the famed Clayoquot Sound; a body of water on the North West side of Vancouver Island with many inlets, bays and islands. Our Captain asked us to keep a look out for any whale signs (spouts/flukes etc) as there are still a few in the area, even though most migrate south to Hawaii from Alaska over the winter passing through the area. March until October is usually the main whale viewing month. We came across a rocky island in the ocean with massive Sea Lions basking and barking loudly when all of a sudden Captain yelled Orca and right before me out of the water was a dorsal fin from an Orca “Killer Whale”. We stopped and watched them for a while as they moved quickly above and below the water most likely on the hunt for sea lions. Just AMAZING to see them so close and what luck. Usually you have to pay for the whale watching tours and you are never guaranteed to see anything. We saw 2 Orca Whales swimming about with their dorsal fins heading straight for the boat.
Very difficult to get good pictures as they move around so fast. We also spotted lots of other wildlife – Bald Eagle sitting atop a rock, a pod of giant sea otters lying on their backs lazing about. They apparently spend very little time on land and mainly float about all day. We bypassed one of the major islands – Flores Island; also know for its extremely tall trees and it is just a massive island covered from bottom to top in trees. On a few of the islands and Vancouver Island there are a number of local Indian Reservations who setup communities along the coast. The one we passed is the Hot Springs Reservation and others along the route of the Hesquiaht group. Much of the area and the islands can only be accessed by water taxi and sea plane. We were then off to the Hot Springs Cove and the springs located in the Maquinna Provincial Marine Park.
You take a 30 minute hike along a boardwalk trail made by locals passing massive cedar trees and dense forest growth before emerging at a rocky cove where the natural hot springs are located. Not the biggest but damn hot and bordering the icy waters of the bay. Just the tonic to relax a tired body and recover from the high seas. We were lucky to have a small tourist group in the winter as one can only imagine how crowded the hot springs get in the spring. We spent around 2 hrs here until properly wrinkled up and then headed back along the trail to the boat. The boat trip back was a long one but much easier to handle. Again we spotted some more sea otters and bald eagles.
All in all ANOTHER great day out in the wilderness.