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.

Visiting Victoria wineries

Visiting Victoria wineries has been one of the great success stories for tourism on southern Vancouver Island. A few years ago there were very few vineyards on the island but now, for example, one of our member bed and breakfasts has four on their road alone.

Our local Saanich Peninsula vineyards are typically small family affairs who are rightly proud of their craft and are pleased to share stories with you as you sample their wines. Your bed and breakfast hosts can help you plan a Victoria wine tours itinerary to visit the local vineyards.

Imagine the setting: driving around the rolling countryside of the peninsula (north of Victoria, south of Sidney) through its farmland and small communities. Every ten minutes or so you pull into a winery or perhaps a fruit stand for some sustaining fresh fruit for your travels. You are then greeted at a tasting room, probably by the family winery operators. With pride, they tell you about their vineyard: its soils and setting, its grapes and, most importantly, its wines.

Do not think that these small wine-making operations produce inferior wines compared to the large wineries; they often win awards internationally. Most BC wines are white, light and fruity.

Visiting Victoria wineries is always a delight. You can also tour local cideries, two distilleries and even a meadery all in the Greater Victoria area.

So plan a few hours to tour them all and sample their wares. Buy a bottle to enjoy in the evening at your bed and breakfast and take a few souvenirs home. Bear in mind that some of these wineries are only open on summer weekends so plan accordingly ask your Victoria bed and breakfast hosts about this.

If Victoria wineries are not to your taste, there are many craft breweries with a large selection of beers, in Victoria and on the Saanich Peninsula.