Port Renfrew (“Renny”) is a small town — home to tall trees, deep roots, and families here for generations. This is a lived-in community with a lumberjack soul.
Renfrew is also home to the Pacheedaht First Nation (“People of the Sea Foam”), part of what makes this place so special.
A forestry and fishing village first, it is a burgeoning outdoor recreation and eco-tourism destination with new options to eat, drink, and stay in style. What has not changed is the small-town experience and ready access to a big, wild, natural world.
History in Motion
We feel the tug of the past, but this is not a museum. We are proud of our origins, our resource legacy, and our deep connection with the natural world.
Vancouver Island has been an ancestral homeland to indigenous peoples for thousands of years. With traditional territory spanning the southwest corner of the Island, the Pacheedaht First Nation has long called the Port Renfrew area home.
The Spanish and English first explored these coastal waters in the late 18th century. Forestry and fishing have been the drivers for settlement and economic development for well over 100 years. These days, it is the incredible natural wonders — wild forests, primordial trails, and stormy coastline — that inspire visitors.
With new ways to get here, Port Renfrew is gaining recognition as an authentically West Coast town on the doorstep of a unique and spectacular wilderness.
Port Renfrew is a wilderness wonder for whale-watchers, birders, and budding naturalists. The biggies are all here: orcas, grey whales, humpbacks, otters, seals, salmon, sea lions, wolves, cougars, bald eagles, black bears, elk, and deer. Glimpse them from the trail or kayak, or take advantage of a charter or eco-excursion. Nature on this scale demands respect. Be mindful not to disturb fragile habitat and take precautions to limit undesired human-wildlife interactions. Leave no trace applies.
Internet & Cell Service
Here, we are more landline than app, more 3-D nature than 3-D printer. Reliable cell service is not available in Port Renfrew, although access to high-speed Internet and Wi-Fi is offered by many local lodgings and businesses. Time out from tech means more time to relax and gear down.
The village is home to a post office, a pub, cafés and eateries, an elementary school, a library, a general store, and a new gas station. A range of lodgings, services, and outfitters help visitors get into the great outdoors.
There used to be one ATM in town and, at times, it ran out of cash. Now, you can find fully loaded versions at The Renfrew Pub and the Coastal Kitchen Café. Rest assured; major bank and credit cards are widely accepted — we’re not that far off the grid.
Renfrew now has a gas station for the first time in over 30 years! The Pacheedaht First Nation opened a brand new facility in November of 2017. It offers our guests full service regular gas, diesel, and propane and has on-site public bathrooms and a small convenience store. During the high season, it is scheduled to be open from 6am to 10pm, otherwise it opens 8am to 6pm daily. Outside of town, you will not find another option until Sooke or Lake Cowichan, so keep an eye on your gauge.
Groceries, Beer & Wine
The Port Renfrew General Store (“The Everything Store”) is the place to pick up basic groceries, ice, beer, wine, and bait. If you are planning to stay a while, a grocery store visit in Sooke or Lake Cowichan on route is recommend for more variety.
Many Renfrew lodgings are Pet Friendly and some even cater to your best friend.
In wilderness areas, you will want to keep your pets under control for their safety and to minimize damage to fragile ecosystems. Always respect posted signage.
It is best to leave pets at home when heading into backcountry areas — especially bear and cougar habitat — to avoid wildlife interactions.
A car is sufficient for getting around in most areas near town. If you are venturing further afield (say, via logging roads) a more robust 4×4 vehicle is recommended. Check for the latest conditions and keep an emergency kit handy.
Marinas & Moorage
The new Pacific Gateway Marina is next door to the Wild Coast Cottages. The Port Renfrew Marina and RV Park is in an estuary of the San Juan River near active fishing grounds. Both seasonal marinas offer moorage and fuel. The Pacheedaht First Nation also operates a marina and boat launch.
Additional moorage is now available at the public wharf next to the pier and The Renfrew Pub.