Outlying Communities, Victoria
Witty's Lagoon, French beach, China Beach and Mystic Beach all have nature Trails that go from the Parking to the beach and take 20-60 minutes respectively. There are quite a few "mountains" in Victoria. Mt. Finlayson on Goldstream Provincial Park is about a 20 minute drive from Downtown Victoria. Goldstream also has camping and RV parks nearby.
You can take a nice easy strol throught the nature along the river or take several trails leading into the hills. Mt. Finlayson is a bout a 90 minute hike up the mountain and involves some light rock scaling near the top. Don't worry. You don't need any speacial equipment but it is not recommended to bring small children.
The view from the top is amazing!
Carmanah Valley is Between Victoria and Tofino. It has many trails and can take you days to hike through. It is a protected area so take only whay you bring and so pictures and PLEASE leave nothing but your memories.
You will want to tell someone of your plans and when you will return because it is very easy to get lost in the trail network. You will have to carry all of your food, water and supplies with you.
This also applies to the West Coast Trail which is vey famous and more controlled. Only a certain number of people are allowed on the trail per year and you have to book in advance (the wait list is about 2 years). You will want to be in good shape and observe al rules of conduct when on this 6 day, 75km trail.
This pic was taken on the Juan de Fuca Trail Between China Beach and Mystic Beach. This Trail has several entrance points. Overnight parking is $5/ night and you can stay as long as you want. To avoid parking chages you can take the West Coast Trail Bus that runs up North of Port renfrew. This trail has easy and difficult points depending on where you start and where you want to go. There are natural bridges, trails, suspension bridges and all camping is on the beach. *YOU MUST TAKE ALL FOOD AND SUPPLIES WITH YOU*
**DO NOT DO THIS TRAIL ALONE**
There are mzny great hiking trails in Victoria and all over Vancouver Island. You can go for an Easy stroll, a Day Hike or an Overnight Hike.
If you park anywhere along the inner harbour from James bay, Ogden point to Esqimalt (Head Street) You can enjoy a nice stroll next to the ocean that is easy to access and easy to leave so you can walk for 5 minutes or 5 hours.
The Galloping Goose is a 70 Km trail which was a train track at some point in time. No it is an easy walk whick you can access at many points and will take you from Victoria to Sooke. There is no camping along this trail so it is a good idea toplan whick part you want to hike. From Metchosin to Sooke the Trail has the most Nature and is the most quiet.
You can also take a nice stroll Along The Breakwater at Ogden Point in James Bay or at Wiffin Spit in Sooke.
Thetis Lake has a trail that takes about 1 hour and goes through the woods around the lake and there are some nice trails at Beaver and Elk lake as well.
The Quw'utsun' Cultural and Conference Centre is located in the Cowichan Valley, 45 minutes from both Nanaimo and Victoria in the southeast corner of Vancouver Island.
It's a world-class tourist attraction, owned and operated by the Cowichan Tribes, the largest First Nations band in British Columbia. It is situated on the Cowichan River, a BC Heritage River that produces significant salmon runs at different times of the year.
Rich in colour, craftsmanship and cultural tradition. You are treated to a wide variety of entertaining and educating experiences. This was a memorable & enjoyable experience, a cultural interpretation of the history, legends, stories and the teachings of the Elders.
The Great Deeds theatre presentation, often referred to as the thunder and lightning show, is always a highlight. This stunning multi-media production thoughtfully outlines the origins, beliefs and legends of the Cowichan People.
The mid -day Salmon BBQ is not to be missed and includes a full multi-course meal with salmon barbequed over an alder fire.
The story-telling begins with a warm Cowichan welcome at the fire circle. You will then be beckoned by the sound of the drum to the feast house, where the salmon is barbecued in the traditional way and served hot off the fire! Take a seat in the main hall, under the 1,000-year-old cedar beams, where you will be treated to an entertaining performance by First Nations singers and dancers. Unforgettable!
In Oak Bay, next door to Victoria, is the Oak Bay Marina. The dock area is often frequented by at least 3 frisky, curious (and always hungry) seals. More interesting than an aquarium, because they're free, these seals are a great treat to see.
I thought you might be interested to see how the 'other half' lives. Not me, I assure you! The home featured in this photo is a magnificent old mansion in Oak Bay, next door to Victoria. The owners decorated this guest bedroom in a style to complement the wonder of this great home.
If you want to see something equally magnificent, and even more historic, then do be sure to visit Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria. It was featured in the dance scenes of Winona Ryder's 'Little Women" movie.
Otherwise known as Sidney-by -the -Sea...this tranquil little sea side community is another little hideout where one can explore some of the beauty of Vancouver Island...beautiful shoreline walkways...pretty little parks, a busy marina,picturesque scenery,some pretty good restaurants,and a really easy pace of life..
Sidney is a fairly newly developed town....only being incorporated as a "town" in 1967...the population is only about 11,000 people and its really considered a "retirement" community...however it has become more and more an alternative to Victoria for accommodation as its location is fairly close to Butchart Gardens,the airport,and Schwartz Bay Ferry terminal...
Sidney is on the Saanich Penninsula about a thirty minute drive North from Victoria and just a few minutes South of the Schwartz Bay Ferry Terminal....you'll drive right by it on the Pat Bay Highway if you might be coming or going to the ferry to or from Vancouver..its well worth a detour here to have a look
Most of the time that I have spent in or around Sidney has been related to kayaking...and of course this is the closest community to the Victoria airport [YYJ].There is also a Washington State ferry that runs between here and Anacortes Island and Friday Harbor on San Juan Island in Washington State.
Sidney is also where you can get a water "taxi" to take you over to Sidney Spit...a Provincial Park that has some great beaches and some little trails for hiking.....at the end of Beacon Avenue is the wharf where you can find the ticket office and "taxi" departure and arrival point.
Here at the same wharf you will find a Fish Market building and a small restaurant called the Pier Bistro where you can also book harbor and wildlife tours [seals I'm guessing].
Sidney is a cute little town...if you detour here for an afternoon I'm sure you'll be happy that you did!
Chemainus, tucked in the heartland of the Cowichan Valley, was once primarily a mill town, and home to the largest covered-in sawmill in North America.
Today it is known world-wide as the world's largest outdoor art gallery
In 1982, the North Cowichan council initiated a downtown revitalization project to give a fresh new look to a tired main street in Chemainus.
Businessman and Chemainus resident, Karl Schutz, came up with the concept of painting history on the walls of Chemainus.
Today, there are 33 murals painted on the downtown business walls.
The paintings are images of real people, and life in the early years.
Youbou, the town on Cowichan Lake. In 1985 when I was 5 years old, we went on our first family vacation and stayed in a cabin in Youbou. Youbou is located on the north shore of the lake. Cowichan Lake is north-west of Victoria, just west of the city of Duncan. See my Youbou page for the entire travelogue of that 1985 trip!
Just north of Victoria by the Swartz Bay ferry terminal is the town of Sidney, also called "Sidney by the Sea". If you decide to visit Sidney, be sure to check out the Haunted Bookshop. Don't let the name fool you! It's a small, enchanting used bookstore run by very friendly staff. It feels like the bookstore has been around for decades upon decades (and it has! Since 1947). And as their card says, it's 'Vancouver Island's Oldest Antiquarian Bookshop'
If you are planning to go north on the island, DON'Tstart by taking the highway. Take route 17 a to Brentwood in Saanich and take the Brentwood Bay-Mill Bay ferry to cross Saanich inlet. It takes EXACTLY the same time, as going on the highway (including the 10 minutes waiting for the ferry, the upload and download) but it's more fun and much more beautifull. The crossing itself takes 15-20 minutes.
Check scadule on website
Cowichan Valley, Duncan BC is the Home to the Cowichan Tribe of the Coast Salish Nation. There are approximately 80 totem poles located downtown and along the Trans Canada Highway. The totem pole project was started in 1985 and many of the totems on display were removed from original sites and private collections.
For a self-guided tour of 41 totem poles follow the yellow footprints, which start at the Cowichan Valley Museum .
If you've found Brentwood Bay you might want to give this little hole in the wall spot a look see...its set at water level close to the dock of the Mill Bay Ferry...
The Seahorse is definitely all about ambiance and views...I cant speak for the food...we didn't eat here....we stopped here for coffees after a walk on a rainy day at Island View Beach...about a fifteen minute drive from here...To access the cafe...you must walk down an inclined ramp down to wharf level where you'll find the entrance to the place..On a sunny day there are outdoor tables with umbrellas that you can enjoy sitting outside under... or when you walk indoors you'll find that the walls in the dining area are floor to ceiling windows so you can see the comings and goings of the wharf area...
We enjoyed the setting...essentially on a floating platform attached to the docks at Brentwood Bay...
This gorgeous provincial park is approx. 25 min. drive North from downtown Victoria. There are numerous hiking trails and if you go at the end of October, early November you can observe the salmon spawning. The park isn't just on one side of the highway you can walk across the highway via an tunnel and there in only a 2 min. walk you will see a beautiful small waterfall. You can hike up behind the waterfall to a train trestle (takes approx. 30 mins.). If you aren't afraid of heights or getting run over by a train you can walk out into the middle of the train trestle and have a great view. On this side of the highway there is also a trail to an old mining tunnel. There are maps throughout the park to show you where you are and what trails are available. Be sure to check out my many photos.
Parking is $3 in the lots but if you park on the highway it is free; just be careful because of the traffic whizzing by. There is a visitor centre which often offers free educational programs. There are picnic tables, firepits and washrooms.
Brentwood Bay is just a short thirty minute drive North of Victoria about half way up the Saanich Peninsula...essentially a suburb of Victoria,this little community offers restaurants,a marina and some amazing views of the Saanich Inlet.This is the home port of the Mill Bay ferry.. a small vehicle and passenger ferry that goes back and forth to Mill Bay...a twenty five minute trip across the Sannich Inlet.The Victoria Butterfly Gardens and the Brentwood Bay Lodge & Spa are also attractions that are close by..
Close to the ferry dock [no terminal here]..really its just a tiny ferry...you can walk a short and picturesque trail that starts just beside the Seahorse Cafe called Saunders Lane...or if you want to get out on the water....you can rent kayaks here as well...
We stopped for a coffee at the Seahorse Cafe...a nice little waterfront pub that offers up some great views of the ferry coming and going as well as the shoreline across the Inlet..
Butchart Gardens is also just a short drive from Brentwood Bay so if maybe you're exploring Butchart Gardens without a tour this might be an ideal spot to get away from the crowds and enjoy some quiet time..
If you're interested in a change of pace and really looking to slow it down for an afternoon I would highly recommend taking the trip out to Brentwood Bay..I think you'll be glad that you checked it out...
Esquimalt is a suburb of Victoria to the west of the city centre. Today, the city hosts Canadian Navy's Pacific Fleet. CFB Esquimalt includes HMCS Naden, Fleet Maintenance Facility - Cape Breton (FMF-CB), a Fire Fighting and Damage Control School, and the Naval Officer Training Centre (NOTC Venture). CFB Esquimalt usually offers free bus tours of Naden and the Dockyard during the summer. The bus departs from Museum Square parking lot in the Naden part of the base at 10am Monday through Friday. Naden is located just off of Admiral's Road at Woodway, and the route to the museum is clearly marked on the road. Being a military site, all visitors must bring picture ID.
In 1855, the navy constructed three hospital buildings on the harbour to treat casualties of the Crimean War. In 1865, the British Royal Navy relocated the headquarters of its Pacific fleet from Valparaíso, Chile, to the Esquimalt Harbour. In 1887, a military base was located at Work Point. In 1905, the Royal Navy abandoned the area, but the Pacific base of the new Royal Canadian Navy replaced it in 1910.
The Esquimalt Graving Drydock in the dockyard was built in the late 1800's as a condition of Confederation. It is still the largest solid-bottom commercial drydock on the West Coast of the Americas and has serviced ships from Royal Navy square riggers to the most recent CF Naval vessels.