Filled with beautiful character homes and sandy beaches, Oak Bay is one of Victoria's oldest and most well-known neighbourhoods and offers some of Victoria's most outstanding year-round active recreation. The community boasts several beautiful, sandy beaches and bays with easy access tidal pools for ripe for exploration. Here are some great activities that you can do on your next visit to Oak Bay.
1. Explore The Avenue
Oak Bay Village, a quaint strip of Oak Bay Avenue, is lined with a number of unique, locally-owned shops who sell art, books, chocolate, imported Italian food products and wine, just to name a few. Shopping is unhurried and sidewalks, coffee houses, tea rooms, and pubs are filled with chatting friends and acquaintances.
Grab a Lavender Vanilla Matcha Latte from Just Matcha Tea Shop, stop in at Vis a Vis for an afternoon glass of wine and charcuterie plate, or enjoy some comfort food and a pint at the English-style Penny Farthing Pub. For dinner, make a reservation at Confit Food & Wine for a rustic, French-inspired meal.
Tip: If you happen to be in town on the second Wednesday of the month (June-September), you can attend the Oak Bay Night Market, a European-style street market that features a wide range of fresh and local produce, artists, artisans, and entertainers.
Image: The Penny Farthing Pub
2. Enjoy Green Spaces & Beautiful Views
The region is fortunate to enjoy a variety of green spaces from small quiet places to relax to full-facility parks with a selection of amenities. Many have historical significance or are important for conservation as well as for enjoyment, education, and relaxation.
Several of Oak Bay's parks feature points of access to the waterfront for shoreline exploration, while those of a higher elevation feature panoramic views of the sweeping coastline and Olympic Peninsula. To see the best of Oak Bay's views, head out on a Natural Beauty Tour with Mark from HikeVictoria.com.
Image: HikeVictoria.com Natural Beauty Tour. Photographer: Mark Vukobrak
3. Visit the Oak Bay Marina
Tip: Go say hello to the harbour seals! There are several resident seals who live in the waters around the marina, who you can often see splashing around the docks.
Image: Oak Bay Marina and Restaurant at dusk
4. Explore like a Local
Beach Drive is always a popular choice for both advanced and recreational cycling. Well-maintained roads, good signage and places of special interest along the route make for enjoyable cycling experiences, and the relaxed pace of life in Oak Bay is perfectly suited for two-wheeled adventures.
The seaside touring route closely hugs the shoreline and passes glorious gardens, heritage houses, and quiet parks. There are many places to stop for a break, have a picnic or simply admire the view. For an easy cruise, rent an electric bike with Pedego Victoria or take a guided tour with Bike Tours Victoria and explore Oak Bay's luxurious neighbourhoods in stride.
Image: Pedego Victoria
5. Get in the Water (or float on it)
Okay, it might be a little bit chilly for a swim, but you can always dip your toes in! If you'd like to go for a paddle, Oak Bay is a great place to do it. The waters around the Chain Islands (just off Oak Bay's shore) are home to large colonies of seabirds and seals, as well as the occasional passing whale! It's a wonderful way to experience Victoria's unique coastline as you've likely never seen it before.
Oak Bay's waters can be easily and safely paddled most months of the year as the area is generally protected from prevailing winds and waves. Rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard from Ocean River Kayak Adventures - they also offer guided kayaking tours of Discovery and Chatham Islands and Oak Bay's coastline.
Image: Sunset paddleboarding off Willows Beach
6. Make a Sandcastle
Spend an afternoon at Willows Beach; one of Victoria's best spots for a swim or to relax. A true sand beach, it's perfect for laying out, building sandcastles or constructing driftwood forts. It also features a shaded children's playground and a large, grassy area that is perfect for picnics or games.
Tip: Hit up the Kiwanis Tearoom at the park for summer for drinks and snacks, or walk to nearby Estevan Village for fish and chips after your day in the sun.
Image: Sandcastles and a driftwood fort near Willows Beach
7. See Public Art
Oak Bay recently installed several large pieces of public art, including thirteen pieces of public art and four hand-painted pianos that can be played by passersby. Check out this downloadable PDF map of the art pieces and their locations.
Image: One of the four public pianos in Oak Bay. Photographer: Mark Vukobrat, HikeVictoria.com
8. Stay the Night
If you're charmed by the character and history of Oak Bay, choose to stay overnight at at the recently renovated and restored Oak Bay Beach Hotel. Built in 1927, the hotel has been a landmark in Victoria for decades, now boasting a reputation as a true luxury, oceanfront resort. Tip: make sure you allow some time to relax poolside!
Image: Oak Bay Beach Hotel pools.
There you have it, eight wonderful ways to experience the charms and joys of Victoria's Oak Bay neighbourhood. If you're still looking for more options, check out our things to do page and see what inspires you!