We are not the boastful kind, but when it comes to the size and scale of nature found here, we are in a league of our own. It is little wonder these aromatic forests are compared with royalty: crowns, towers, kings. Our beaches are protected homes to hundreds of species of plants and animals. It is also the terminus for the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail and West Coast Trail. Hours of fun for beachcombers of all ages can be had.
Dubbed the “Cathedral Grove of Port Renfrew,” Avatar Grove is a unique clutch of old growth in the Gordon River Valley. It is home to giant Western Red cedar and rare Douglas fir, therefore, is the focus of efforts to preserve its arboreal riches. Keep an eye out for “Canada’s Gnarliest Tree” — a whimsical knot of twisted cedar. This is a magical place to peace out and leave your real-world avatar behind.
Botanical Beach (and adjacent Botany Bay) is a mind-blowing must-see. Shady upland trails open to windswept beaches and sandstone moonscapes. One of the richest intertidal zones on the West Coast, the tide pools here teem with marine life: giant green anemones, ruby red starfish, and spiny sea urchins. The cavernous basins are like the footprints of giants.
Surfing is the stuff of legend on Vancouver Island’s wild West Coast. Here, it is an all-season affair; we’re not afraid of a little cold water. Pacheedaht Beach, Jordan River and Sombrio Beach are storied West Coast Road surf spots. Please respect the beaches, locals and the etiquette in the water.
Hit The Trails
Port Renfrew is a hiking hotspot nestled between two of the most beloved and intensive coastal trailheads in the world: West Coast Trail and Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. Still, there is a path for everyone nearby, from walkie-talkie 20-minute strolls to half-day climbs. Keep your eyes peeled, as the many different landscapes host a unique and stunning diversity of flora and fauna.The options are as varied as our visitors, so pick a favourite or two.
West Coast Trail
Few wilderness experiences rival the iconic West Coast Trail (WCT). Built to bail shipwreck survivors from wild Pacific waters, the WCT hugs 75 kilometres of high-drama coastline from Port Renfrew to Bamfield. Part of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, it traces traditional First Nations routes and treats experienced backpackers to some of the most rugged and compelling terrain in the world. Complete it and you can cross a biggie off your bucket list. Renfrew is the perfect place to fuel up before you go.
Juan De Fuca Trail
Newer and shorter than the West Coast Trail, the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is no less spectacular. With many day use options, with easy to moderate access, this is a great option for the whole family. Serious gear and serious fitness are required to complete the entire 47-kilometre trail with a smile. Beginning at China Beach and terminating at the Botanical Beach parking lot, there are plenty of options for unforgettable day hikes and sleepovers in between. Renfrew is the perfect spot to reward your hard work.
With names like Fairy Lake and Lizard Lake, there is 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.