Now that you've completed Part 1 of the Ultimate South Island Road Trip, it's time to head back down Vancouver Island's west coast toward Victoria. In these final two legs, you'll explore Port Renfrew and Sooke, plus lots of great spots to stop, eat and adventure along the way.
Fourth Leg: Port Renfrew to Sooke(69 km, around 1 hour and 17 minutes):
Discover stunning beaches and forests along the rugged coastline on this stretch of your trip. Walk a portion of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail (44 km in full), watch the surfers at Sombrio Beach or find the ancient petroglyphs etched into the rock at East Sooke Park.
Image: Sunset surf at Sombrio Beach, photographer: Nik Dunn
What to do: Stop in at the Shirley Country Market, every Sunday from 10am - 4pm, where you'll shop local produce and handcrafted goods, have your tarot cards read and and meet local artisans. Stop in at Sheringham Distillery to take a tour, enjoy samples and take home a bottle of small-batch, locally handcrafted spirits.
Discover the bounty of the sea and join Vancouver Island's local "Seaweed Lady", Diane Bernard, for a seaweed harvesting tour. Learn about the health, nutritional and wellness benefits of over a dozen different wild seaweed species and visit their seaweed facility where they design and manufacture Seaflora wild organic seaweed skincare.
Where to eat: Feast on fresh, locally sourced fare at West Coast Grill or Wild Mountain Food & Drink. With a commitment to serving sustainable, organic foods, both restaurants work with local farmers and fishermen to create truly local dishes. The menus change with what is in season or can be found that day.
Where to stay: Get one with nature with an overnight stay at one of the many campsites and RV Parks between Port Renfrew and Sooke. Popular sites are located at China Beach, Jordan River and French Beach. You can also camp on the shoreline at Mystic Beach, which is a fantastic spot but does require a 20-minute hike in with your gear.
Image: Rope swing at Mystic Beach
Final Leg: Sooke to Victoria(41 km, around 45 minutes):
On the final leg of your journey, enjoy the transition from rural landscapes to magnificent heritage properties in downtown Victoria. Ditch the car and enjoy walking all of downtown wandering from cafés to boutiques, and sample delicious bites and perfectly crafted cocktails in the city's restaurants and cocktail bars.
Image: Fisgard Lighthouse on a bluebird day.
What to do: Tour through secret bunkers, military command posts and original 19th century buildings at Fort Rodd Hill, a west coast artillery fortress on active duty from 1895 to 1956. On the same site, walk through Fisgard Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse on Western Canada's coastline. Make a stop at Hatley Park National Historic Site in Colwood and take a guided walking tour through the colourful gardens and first floor of the property while learning about the history of the site. You might recognise the building as Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters in the Marvel X-Men films!
Image: Hatley Castle at Royal Roads University
Where to eat: Be sure to try both of these two tasty spots in one: Fol Epi and Agrius. Fol Epi Bakerynow has a downtown location serving their wonderful fresh breads and pastries using flour milled on site and baked in their brick oven. Sample a flaky croissant, tasty house made tourtiere or sausage roll. Agrius Restaurant is their intimate 36-person restaurant open for lunch and dinner featuring an extensive selection of creative dishes made with local ingredients including nose to tail charcuterie and meat prepared in house.
Where to stay: Treat yourself to a little luxury at the end of your adventure. Stay at one of the city's most iconic properties, The Fairmont Empress, which has just completed an extensive restoration including a fresh new look, drawing inspiration from Vancouver Island's breathtaking natural beauty while staying true to its heritage roots. Grab a cocktail at Q Bar and gaze out over the Inner Harbour as you unwind. Tip: If you're visiting on a Thursday, get there for Toast to Thursdays happy hour between 4 and 7pm!
Image: An evening view over the Inner Harbour toward the Fairmont Empress
Don't forget to take lots of photos along the way, and share them with us! Use the hashtag #ExploreVictoria on Twitter and Instagram for your chance to be featured on Tourism Victoria's social channels. We always love to see your photos from trips like the Ultimate South Island Road Trip.
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