Explore Victoria by bike or on water

Explore Victoria by bike or on water – Southern Vancouver Island cries out to be discovered on a visit so its well worth planning to explore Victoria by bike or on water. There’s no need to bring equipment with you just rent it locally from Sports Rent.

Outdoor recreation is a vital part of our west coast lifestyle; hardly surprising since there’s so much beauty around waiting to be discovered:-
A gentle stroll through a park or along a beach,
Take an more arduous hike on the west coast, East Sooke Park being the closest,
Thrill on the mountain bike trails at Hartland,
Hire golf clubs and give them a good workout on the many Victoria golf courses,
Cycle leisurely along the Galloping Goose trail (flat old railway line),
Take to the waters of our varied coastline on a canoe or stand-up paddle board (SUP).

Sports Rent have been renting sports goods for over 25 years for cycling and hiking and more. They are in an easy-to-find location just north of downtown Victoria, enabling you to enjoy any of these outdoor pursuits and more. Roof racks are available if needed.

Victoria BC tourism map

What to see, where to eat, what to do, where to stay and how to get there? All vital questions which this Victoria BC tourism map will help to answer.

The map shows Victoria and Saanich Peninsula attractions, recreational activities, restaurants, wineries and other tourism related businesses, and, of course, accommodations. (Victoria is on the southern end of the Saanich Peninsula, the area where you’ll be enjoying your vacation in this beautiful area.)

The map is part of an informative website about Victoria BC tourism. Click on these links to prepare for your visit:

  • Attractions so often guests remark as they leave “We wish we were staying longer. Theres so much to do here”. This page has information and links to downtown attractions, Victoria area attractions, gardens, wineries, and recreation on land and on water.
  • The Butchart Gardens – since this is the place you really should visit we’ve dedicated a web page to these magnificent gardens. Allow sufficient time to explore the varied gardens and enjoy its activities.
  • There are videos about aspects of Victoria and Vancouver Island.
  • Local tourism businesses are listed answering some of those What to see, Where to eat and What to do questions.
  • and lastly, that Victoria BC tourism map. Zoom in and out, click on the icons for more information.

 

Our Greater Victoria bed and breakfasts are located conveniently for your explorations of Victoria and the Saanich Peninsula. We look forward to welcoming you to a memorable stay.

Hiking trails on the Saanich Peninsula

Hiking trails on the Saanich Peninsula can be arduous or can be a relaxed stroll, but all offer lovely views in the natural settings of southern Vancouver Island.

We’d like to suggest some favourite walks, all a short drive from our bed and breakfasts. The Saanich Peninsula is only 30 km / 20 miles north (Sidney) to south (Victoria) so you can include several activities in a day without spending much time driving. The three parks below all provide everything from easy walks to rugged or lengthy hiking trails.

Elk Lake and Beaver Lake Regional Park

It’s likely that you’ll have driven by this largest lake here, in the centre of the Saanich Peninsula flanking Hwy 17 which connects BC Ferries and Victoria International Airport to Victoria.

The whole lake (two in one since they are connected) has a flat 10km / 6 mile path around its waters edge. Apart from a short section by the highway it is an excellent wide cedar path. I enjoy the variety encountered from the open sunny east side to the cedar woodland of the eastern bank. Walking the full circuit will take 2.5 hours or so, assuming you are relaxing and enjoying the scenery (look out for old rail tracks in the SW corner). Alternatively, just walk a short distance and return to your car.

Its principal access for parking is at the southern end reached from delightful little Beaver Lake Road. Nearby is the Victoria City Rowing Club where the Canadian national team train. Hamsterly Beach, at the northern end, is popular with families for swimming.

Mount Douglas Park

Mount Douglas Park is just south of Cordova Bay on the east side of the peninsula. Here you take a short walk or a steep haul up the hill from the bottom parking lot: your choice. Either way, you are rewarded with a splendid 360 degree view of the Saanich Peninsula Victoria to the south and the Gulf Islands to the east.  I confess to always driving to the small parking area at the top and then taking the short walk up to the summit. Mt Doug, as the locals call it, is a good choice for the beginning of your visit to Victoria since you’ll see everything in its context.

Gowlland Tod Provincial Park

For variety Gowlland Tod can not be bettered, with 25 km of hiking trails, from a stroll to the quiet waters of Tod Inlet to stiff rugged climbs up to vantage points over Finlayson Arm.

Tod-Inlet-walk

Above is our favourite family walk, from Wallace Road to the jetty of the old cement factory adjoining the Butchart Gardens (you can peek through fence to see the Ross Fountain). It’s an easy walk and delightful throughout, from old growth forest to flats near the inlet where boats moor and seabirds nest in boxes on jetty posts.

For a greater range of hikes the best parking spot is the McKenzie Bight access off Willis Point Road for the walk down Cascade Trail to the waters at McKenzie Bight or to climb up Timberman Trail. Views are memorable.

West coast sailing adventures

West Coast sailing adventures can be the most memorable part of a visit to Vancouver Island. Darren Tomlin is one of our Victoria B&B innkeepers who offers something very special to his guests and to anyone else visiting Vancouver Island on sailing trips on his elegant 37′ sail boat Desiderata. You’ll enjoy pure relaxation plus the joys of sailing and the challenges of fishing.

From the moorings at Sidney you’ll sail to the island of Sidney Spit and explore protected coves, drop the anchor to relax and watch local wildlife. You might see killer whales but certainly can expect to view seals, porpoises, herons, eagles and other marine life. Darren has fishing rods and crab traps on board so that his sailing guests can land a catch or two.

After informing you about safety procedure Darren will introduce his crew (you!) to sailing including how to hoist the sails and spinnaker and work the deck. You’ll learn a little about tides and currents and about navigation with charts and GPS.

Appetizers and non-alcoholic beverages are provided. Book your West Coast sailing adventures with Darren for $99 per person. Fun and relaxation are guaranteed on this memorable trip.

Lakes and Beaches of Victoria

Relaxing at the lakes and beaches of Victoria should be included in the itinerary of any visit to southern Vancouver Island. Slow down the pace of life for a while.

We can not promise you white beaches and palms but you will enjoy the natural beauty of Vancouver Island’s coastline.

Victorias beaches

Victoria is situated on the Saanich Peninsula, 20 miles (30km) north to south, almost surrounded by water:
Haro Strait to the east with distant views of Mount Baker
Juan de Fuca Strait to the south looking across to the Olympic Peninsula
Saanich Inlet to the west, a deep fjord separating the peninsula from the Malahat region of Vancouver Island.

 

You are merely separated from these distant views by passing boats. Victoria beaches are a mixture of sand and pebbles, along with occasional driftwood adding to their character. Here are a few suggested places where you can stroll or relax with a picnic.

Willows Beach in Oak Bay has the reputation for the best sandy beach.
Another sandy option, though more tidal, is Patricia Bay west of Victoria International Airport where sunsets can be magical.

A favourite sandy beach is Wittys Lagoon in Metchosin which changes character greatly according to the tides. But our favourite is a little known gem (don’t tell everybody) at the end of Norris Road in North Saanich (GPS:48.673499, -123.481127).

Three other suggestions with pebbles and sand are:
– The coastline adjoining Dallas Road in SE Victoria, from Beacon Hill Park to Clover Point,
Cordova Bay,
– Island View Beach,
– beaches in East Sooke Regional Park.

Victorias Lakes

Two inland lakes on the Saanich Peninsula offer differing recreational attractions.

Most obviously, there is Elk Lake / Beaver Lake (two in one) right in the centre of the peninsula. Locals enjoy the northern Hamsterly Beach and the open area at the southern end. A 10km walk around the entire lake will take you about 2.5 hours: the western side with its wide trail through the forest at the lakeside is lovely. Look out for old rails of the old Victoria-Sidney railway of 100 years ago.

Then there’s another of Victoria’s secrets: Durrance Lake, off Willis Point Road. South of the Butchart Gardens it sits surrounded by woodland. You can walk around it in about 40 minutes or take a dip in its fresh water. You may want guidance from your bed and breakfast hosts to locate some of these lakes and beaches of Victoria.

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Messing about on the water

Victoria whale-watching and kayaking are two popular pursuits of visitors and residents alike on southern Vancouver Island: messing about on the water is such fun. The reasons are fairly obvious in different ways.

Exploring the coastline gives a different perspective of the island, a new way to enjoy its beauty. Taking a whale-watching trip adds a thrill to this.

Orca Spirit have their base in Victorias Inner Harbour where the fun begins. You will be in the hands of a long-established whale watching company whose skippers / naturalists will give you a memorable experience whether on their covered ocean cruisers or on a zodiac.

It is unusual not to see whales but they do not breach before your eyes to order! There are three pods (families) of residents and passing transcient orcas so you can hope for the rare whale soup of up to 80 killer whales. Humpback whales appear quite often and you may well see porpoises and seals too. Tours usually visit Race Rocks where sea lions, Steller and California, are draped on the rocks by the lighthouse. And look out for a variety of marine birds. It is a trip you will long remember.

A change of pace comes from peaceful kayaking around our shores. Each summer I rent a kayak from Pacifica Paddle in the glorious setting of the Saanich Inlet at Brentwood Bay, near the Butchart Gardens. The scenery is splendid, the waters warmer and placid and the other vessels not overwhelming.

This summer I went alone to explore Todd Inlet behind the Butchart Gardens where they had the cement factory and jetty 100 years ago. A couple of weeks later my wife and I joined friends on their boat and we moored in the inlet to watch the Gardens fireworks overhead.

There are so many ways to explore the Vancouver Island coastline off-shore, sailing and fishing trips too. Do ensure you include one of these on your visit to Victoria.