Things To Do In Port Renfrew

Things To Do In Port Renfrew


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. Our beaches are protected homes to hundreds of species of plants and animals. Hours of fun for beachcombers of all ages can be had. Port Renfrew is also 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 20-minute strolls to half-day climbs. CLICK HERE for some easy to use trail maps for some of our local favourites. There is no shortage of things to do in Port Renfrew and we hope the list below will get your started!

Botanical Beach tidal pools

Botanical Beach & Botany Bay

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.

Fairy Lake Bonsai in Port Renfrew

Fairy Lake

This popular swimming, camping, and paddle spot is just a stone’s throw from town. In warmer months, visitors and locals recline on it’s sandy shores. You can’t miss the lone tree growing from a rock in the middle of the lake. The “Bonsai Tree” is actually a Douglas Fir that has grown atop a sunken log of another Douglas Fir – a symbol to many as a “window into nature and rebirth.”

Lizard Lake in Port Renfrew

Lizard 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. It’s also another great place to have a picnic, tan or swim! There are two main areas, one for day-use and one for camping. There is also a dock which allows for great canoeing, kayaking, fishing, or stand-up paddle boarding.

Big Lonely Doug in Port Renfrew

Big Lonely Doug

Canada’s 2nd tallest Douglas Fir is known as “Big Lonely Doug.” It is a sole-standing tree amidst a large clear-cut. Doug has become a symbol of environmental activists around the area that fight to protect old-growth forests. Eden Grove is a less-travelled old growth forest, home to many other tall trees and intricate ecosystems. If you’re planning to visit, wear proper hiking footwear and follow the “Leave No Trace” principles.

Harris Creek Sitka Spruce in Port Renfrew

Harris Creek Sitka Spruce

The Harris Creek Sitka Spruce is a tree from generations past and one for many generations forward. This particular tree was spared when logging was more prominent in the area, but logging has since been restricted (2012). At a whopping 13ft (4m) in diameter and 260ft (80m) tall, you sure won’t want to miss this beauty. This is a great sight for those with limited mobility as it’s located just off of a paved road. When looking for this tree, be sure to drive slowly and watch for the one and only sign on the roadside.

Sandcut beach waterfall in port renfrew at sunset

Sandcut Beach Waterfalls

Sandcut Beach is located between French Beach Provincial Park and Jordan River, just 31 kilometres west of Sooke on Highway 14. There is a well signed gravel parking lot with access to the beach clearly marked. A 15 minute walk from the parking area along a wooded trail will bring you to a beautiful pebble beach with sandstone and waterfalls.

Sombrio Beach waterfall in port renfrew

Sombrio Beach Waterfall

Sombrio Beach Waterfall is a notable waterfall in the area and one worth discovering! Drive 20 minutes from the town of Port Renfrew to Sombrio Beach. A 15 minute walk will get you from the parking lot to the beach and to find the waterfall you’ll need to walk left until you pass a cave-like rock and come across a small stream on the ground coming from the left towards the ocean. Follow the steam inwards and you’ll find two big cliffs of moss-covered rock with the waterfall right in the middle of it.

China Beach in Port Renfrew

China Beach & Hidden Waterfall

This expansive sandy beach is perfect for picnics, building sandcastles and relaxing. It is easily accessible via a 15-minute graded trail from the parking lot, with a long set of stairs to reach the shoreline. A hidden gem of the beach is a stunning waterfall located at the western end, tucked behind a moss-covered rock wall. To get to this beach you’ll look for a well signed parking lot for ‘China Beach, Juan de Fuca Provincial Park.’

Mystic Beach waterfall in Port Renfrew

Mystic Beach Waterfall

To get to this magical place you’ll need to take a 45 minute hike from the parking lot to the beach on a well maintained trail (including a cool suspension bridge) through beautiful old growth forest. The waterfall sits on the east side of the beach and at low tide you can walk right under it. On the western side of the beach you’ll find some small caves that you can explore during low tide as well.

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. Please Note, we encourage you to call the WCT Information Centre at 250-647-5434 for more information as The West Coast Trail requires a reservation to walk any part of it.

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. For more information on booking, please visit


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.

Avatar Grove in Port Renfrew

Avatar Grove


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.