FIsherman's Wharf is Victoria's hidden treasure waiting for discovery! It's so close to downtown, and has a vibrant atmosphere with funky floathomes, fishing vessels and marine life! You get a front row seat on the harbour, and it's a perfect place to have lunch on the docks and grab an ice cream before heading out on a kayaking adventure! There's lots of things to do for the whole family: a park for the kids to play on, whale watching tours leave directly from there, and it's dog friendly! You can also take a Victoria Harbour Ferry from downtown to there, and it's a great way to enjoy an afternoon in the sun!
I live in Victoria but I had friends visiting me from England and I wanted to show them a unique area of Victoria so I took them to Fisherman's Wharf for lunch. There is no other place like it on Vancouver Island! We had fresh fish tacos and fish and chips on the dock and were entertained by children feeding fish to the resident harbour seals. Living here, I'd seen it before but I loved the look of surprise and anger on the faces of my friends as the seagulls snapped the fish up before the seals could! Our picnic table had a front row seat on the harbour to see floatplanes, ferries, kayaks and water taxis. For dessert it was sea salt and caramel ice cream from Jackson's which we took to go and we walked the docks. At one end we watched fisherman unload the catch of the day or sell Dungeness Crab from their boats, to the other, where people live in a lively mix of floathomes. Each one unique, they are colourly decorated, some with murals and artwork, while others had flowers bursting from window boxes or hanging baskets. We watched kayakers setting out for a guided kayak tour and listened to returning whale watchers regale their whale sighting stories. Next it was Grillagan's for the best mini donuts and we crossed the parking area to Fisherman's Wharf Park. The city of Victoria has made great additions to the park. Instead of a large playing field, there is a huge sunken garden with a bridge that crosses it. When it rains the pool fills and various birds visit. There is a sand filled beach area with driftwood and a pirate ship for the kids to play on. My friends and I had a great time at Fisherman's Wharf and I highly recommend you discover it for yourself!
This area is an easy walk from central Victoria. There are seals there that will rise up to be fed, but the most interesting thing to see, in my opinion, are the unique and colourful houseboats. Each one is unique to an extreme degree and each one is worth a photo on its own. You can also see the seaplanes taking off and landing nearby.
Fisherman's Wharf has moorings available for recreational & fishing boats, live aboard vessels and floating homes. Was surprised to see so many "floating homes" all architecturally different from one another.
Another attraction was the playful harbor seals swimming around the docks. Maybe looking for a hand out??
I was extremely tempted to list Fisherman's Wharf and its Park under the "Tourist Trap" tips, but there is already a collection of material listing it here under the "Things to Do" category, and so here is where I shall put it.
Fisherman's Wharf Park is located in a residential neighborhood on the far west side of the downtown area. It is close to several hotels, and is accessible from the Waterfront Walk as well as standard city sidewalks.
The park itself is mostly open grass with game playing fields. The far west end of the park has a small playground in it with most of the equipment having a boat or pirate or navigation theme of some sort. There are benches, a gravel pathway, and a few picnic tables. As the park is somewhat elevated above the water edge, there is somewhat of a view of the water offered over the roofs of the businesses on Fisherman's Wharf. However, it isn't high enough to really provide a good view, so most of the view is of the backside of Fisherman's Wharf businesses.
On the northwest edge of the park, it comes into contact with the inner harbour, and thus an entire network of docks with various tourist activities located on it. This includes a booth offering various whale watching trips (assuming the season is open), a sea food store that lets you feed fish to the local sea lions, and various other facilities that comes from turing a once active fishing terminal into a tourist attraction.
I didn't spend that much time at Fisherman's Wharf, but there wasn't that much there that impressed me. It seemed like a lot of the places were closed for the winter. In a different season and a different mix of tourist trap hawkers on the docks, maybe this reaction will be different, or maybe not.
The web site below is actually a web page from one of the many businesses located on Fisherman's Wharf. It is one of the few web pages I could find that listed a number of the various business concerns operating on Fisherman's Wharf.
If you want to get a glimpse of some sea life while you're visiting Victoria and don't happen to have time to go on a sightseeing tour or are there at the wrong time of year for whales, or just don't have access to a boat, head down to Fisherman's Wharf to spend some time with some seals. We were there on a cold, drizzly day in the afternoon, and I saw up to five seals together at one time. There is a stand on the Wharf called The Fish Store, and you can buy fish there for $1 each (or a better deal for $5, but I can't remember exactly how many, I just overheard) to feed to the seals.
For someone who comes from the landlocked prairie provinces, it was pretty cool to see seals in their natural habitat.
A little walk around Fisherman's Wharf is always kind of an adventure...this is the predominant place where the fish boats tie up in the region and there's always lots of people coming and going...especially on a sunny day.....the views of Victoria's Inner Harbor are certainly worth the cost of admisson....FREE of charge but you must pay for parking if you're driving to get here [the lots os just beside the wharf area and is well marked ]....otherwise its an EASY walk along Belleville Street where you can catch another public walkway just south of where the Clipper and the Coho tie up..The Coho and the Clipper are ferry boats that tie up within the Inner Harbor..you really cant miss the walkway from there...There's also a Harbor Ferry that you can catch from different places around the Inner Harbor...Getting here is quite easy...
There is a hodgepodge of informal eateries along the dock closest to the shoreline as well as whale watching tours at Sea King Adventures...or grab some fish and chips at Barbs or take home the "catch of the day" from The Fish Store or even just grab a coffee from the Moka House to wander around with...
When I lived here....just a few blocks away from here I would sometimes go and grab a few crabs to cook up for dinner...nowadays I just go and have a look...sure enough...there was crab available at $ 8.00 Canadian per pound...it was tempting but it would have been a song and dance to get myself and my tour mates invited to someone's house to make use of the kitchen...in fact the way things worked out there was to be no time available for such a luxury...so we just walked about for a little while people watching mostly..
As luck would have it...over the Labor Day Long weekend [we were in town then] the "floating home" community which docks right next door had made there homes available for touring...just for people to have a look inside..so we took advantage of this and explored a few of the homes that had made themselves available for this charity event...we chipped in a few dollars and the monies collected were being used for something in the community...
So if you have any interest in checking out the fish boats or just hanging out in a place thats a little different....go check this out
Fisherman's Wharf was unlike anything I'd ever seen before! It basically is a floating fishermen village, where streets have been replaced with piers and where seals are the most common house pets! Visitors are welcome to walk up and down the streets/piers and stop at one of the two restaurants: Barb's Place, renowned to serve Victoria's best fish & chips, and Grilligan's. You can also buy fresh fish and seafood at the fish shop, which also sells herring that visitors can buy to feed the neighborhood's seals.
Fisherman's Wharf, Victoria, is absolutely nothing like its namesake in San Francisco! So don't expect the razzmatazz of the more southerly Fisherman's Wharf. This place is really more like a marina, with floating pontoons being docks for fishing boats and an eclectic collection of houseboats. Yes, Fisherman's Wharf is actually a floating suburb of Victoria, albeit a small one with a transitory population, I was told.
My reason for walking out to Fisherman's Wharf from the downtown waterfront area was to have dinner at Barb's Place - a well known restaurant on the 'wharf'. My walk followed the coastline and gave great views of seaplanes landing. After dinner, I was entertained by two harbour seals convincing the odd tourist to buy some fish for $1 and feed it to them. The fish shop next to Barb's Place was the counter to go to for this. The crafty harbour seals worked out when they were going to get a food by watching to see whether people went to that shop's counter. Even more cleverly, they knew the fish was coming when the blue plastic bowl was passed to the customer. It, of course, contained the fish tourists could feed to the harbour seals.
Fisherman's wharf was a pleasant blend of low key tourism and real life, as fisherman chatted with locals and visitors while they cleaned their vessels and equipment after a day at sea.
To get back to the town centre, I took a neat little harbour ferry for $C4, but not before I had finished the evening off with a divine maple-walnut icecream in a cone from the ice-cream shop with the yellow awning in the photo (on the red houseboat).
Check out Fisherman's Wharf for a variety of reasons. Of course you can eat outstanding fish and chips there. After that stroll the docks to check out the interesting floathomes here as you are walking you are likely to spot some seals popping up right by the dock. They love to be fed by the fisherman.
The area is known for it's famous seafood take-out restaurant - Barb's Fish & Chips. The food must be good....it was so crowded people were eating everywhere along the docks. Lines were too long so we didn't bother.
Instead we just wandered around the docks and took photos of the floating homes.
Victoria's Fisherman's Wharf isn't too big and doesn't get as much attention as San Francisco's but it's definitely worth a visit. Fishermen work and some live on the boats that line the wharf. There's a restaurant, Barb's Place, that sells fish and chips and also a booth that sells fresh fish. Seals live in the area - and, at certain times of the day, they swim around the boats for all to see...you can buy small fish for about a dollar to feed them. When I was there, a pit bull was living on one of the boats...he roamed the dock freely and turned out to be a friendly dog.
Take a tour around the cute little houseboats, buy some fresh fish or crab to cook for dinner or visit Barb's fish & ships shop for great seafood and a great atmosphere. Also don't forget to look for the resident sea lions who like to hang out under the docks looking for scraps!