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Sooke and Port Renfrew

 

Sooke to Port Renfrew

Northwest of Victoria, along the southwestern coast of Vancouver Island, lie the communities of Sooke and Port Renfrew. Linked by Highway 14, these two communities are known for their rugged coastlines, tall trees and unspoiled natural beauty. The town of Sooke is located just 40 minutes outside of Victoria and is even accessible by bike along the Galloping Goose Regional Trail. From local artisans, cafes and extensive parks and hiking trails, Sooke is a popular seaside getaway. Tracing the coastline just over an hour further is the village of Port Renfrew. The area is known as the Tall Tree Capital of Canada, being home to spectacular old-growth forests and untouched nature.

Scenic seascapes and rugged coast

Be sure to stop at East Sooke Regional Park, where hiking trails range from casual walks to full-day missions. Birdwatchers will enjoy Whiffin Spit, a natural breakwater between the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Sooke Harbour. Inland, the crystal-clear waters of Sooke Potholes Regional Park are perfect for swimming.

Further west, the highway leads to some of the Island's most beautiful beaches along the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. While the entire trail can be completed by experienced hikers over several days, there are also many entry points for day use. French Beach, China Beach and Sombrio Beach are all easily accessible from the road. At the end of the Juan de Fuca Trail, Botanical Beach’s spectacular tide pools offer unique glimpses into underwater worlds.

Port Renfrew also stands as an entry point to the West Coast Trail, a world-class multi day hiking trail through Pacific Rim National Park. Don't miss nearby Avatar Grove, a unique swath of old growth forest in the Gordon River Valley. Keep an eye out for "Canada's Gnarliest Tree" - a whimsical knot of twisted cedar.

Wild Activities

Being perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, it is no surprise that Sooke and Port Renfrew both have many marine activities to offer. Whale watching and sport fishing are both popular pastimes, with several companies available to take you on professional excursions. Those looking to catch some waves will also be impressed by the surfing in Jordan River. In Sooke, rent a kayak or paddle board to explore the coves and inlets, or take to the trees for an exhilarating zipline tour.

Feast on local fare

Chefs work closely with fishermen, farmers and foragers to bring the best and freshest culinary delights straight to your plate. Visit farm-to-table restaurant such as West Coast Grill for outstanding local cuisine in Sooke or bring your own catch to be cooked how you like it at Bridgemans West Coast Eatery in Port Renfrew.

Stay the night

If you want to extend your stay beyond just a day trip, there are accommodation options for every budget and level of comfort. For the true west coast experience, campgrounds are available at French Beach, along the Juan de Fuca trail and in Port Renfrew. Settle into an oceanfront cottage at Handsome Dan’s Port Renfrew, or one of the many options ranging from private suites to shared hostels at Wild Renfrew. For a truly indulgent stay, check out the Prestige Oceanfront Resort in Sooke.

Image credit: Matt Shannon Photography

Pacific Marine Circle Route

Sooke is a perfect starting point for a drive on the Pacific Marine Circle Route, which leads you on a breathtaking self-guided trip along the southwest coast to Port Renfrew, east across to Lake Cowichan and then south again through Duncan and Cobble Hill.