awaiting exploration

Beaches

Spectacular beaches define Port Renfrew, since the village is entry to kilometres of unrivaled coastline. Sandy, pebbled, or piled with driftwood, they’re good places to breathe deeply and take it all in.

The unique intertidal zone at Botanical Beach makes it a top-ranked destination. The half-moon of San Juan Beach adjacent to the Pacheedaht Campground has a long sandy shore popular with birders and wildlife enthusiasts. It’s also a great launch site for kiteboarders and windsurfers seeking bluster.

The beaches all along the West Coast Road from Sooke to Port Renfrew make even West Coasters giddy. With outlooks to the Juan de Fuca Strait and the Olympic Peninsula, getting here is half the fun.

Parks

Major national and regional parkland in and around Port Renfrew includes Juan de Fuca Provincial Park (extending from China Beach to Botanical Beach and site of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail), Pacific Rim National Park Reserve (site of the West Coast Trail) and Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park. Can’t choose? Ask a local for the inside track.

Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park

Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park is a wilderness and recreation area 20 kilometres north of Port Renfrew. The 16,365-hectare old-growth sanctuary is host to ecosystems undisturbed for hundreds of years. Some of the world’s largest trees grow here — a number more than 1,000 years old. See the rainforest in a whole new way from the Three Sisters elevated viewing platform.

Field Notes

  • The park is remote and rugged with private logging road access
  • Visitors should have a reliable vehicle and be prepared for challenging conditions
  • Check trail conditions before you go

Lakes

With names like Fairy Lake and Lizard Lake, there’s surely magic here. The popular swimming, camping and paddle spots are just a stone’s throw from town. In warmer months, visitors and locals recline on their sandy shores.

You can’t miss the lone tree growing from a rock in the middle of Fairy Lake. Lizard Lake comes by its name honestly: amateur sleuths can try their hand tracking the resident newts (salamanders). The lakes are prime spots for trout fishing — if lizard-spotting isn’t your thing.