September in Victoria BC

Traditions run deep in Victoria: July begins with a bang, August with a splash, and September in Victoria BC always begins with all the fun of the fair.

The Saanich Fall Fair has shown local agricultural exhibits, music and crafts –  since 1868 at Saanich Fairgrounds in the centre of the peninsula on the Labour Day weekend. A final summer bash.

That same weekend has a delightful sight in the Inner Harbour: the Victoria Classic Boat Festival, now in its 40th year. The boats may not be the biggest or most spectacular but they are classy and beautiful. See a sail-past and a steam boat parade, watch a rowing regatta in the Gorge Waterway and dory races (small shallow-hulled fishing boats).

For me, the best part of September here is the combination of fine touristy weather (an “Indian summer” is not uncommon), the gradual softening of colours as early fall sets in, and the easing off of the busy crowds. It’s a good time to discover Vancouver Island. One might say that September compares to July and August in the words of Robert Frost “I took the one less traveled by, and that has been all the difference”. So come and take the quieter road: September in Victoria BC.

 

 

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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Saanich Peninsula

The weather on the Saanich Peninsula was simply glorious for this past Easter weekend. I daresay it was for much of southern Vancouver Island BC.

 

We were reminded that we live in a wonderful place. It is easy to take things for granted. However, the first full days of Spring re-opened our eyes to the privilege of living in the Victoria area. My wife and I went for a drive circling the Saanich Peninsula from the south west, driving along the short northern tip and then returning down the east coast. Its so compact that you can cover the whole peninsula in a short time but with little traffic, a beautiful place to explore.

We are spoilt. No wonder visitors to our B&B return to Vancouver Island. Let me tell you why: in that short drive we passed all these places, in less than a couple of hours:

 

  • The rolling hills and fields, the woods and lakes, farms and small communities.
  • Wineries. The grapevines are preparing for that process we know and love. You can visit numerous family-run Saanich Peninsula vineyards on summer weekends. Even a cidery.
  • Gardens. Forget The Butchart Gardens, if you can, and imagine little home gardens coming to life. Victorians (we don’t call ourselves that) counted 26 billion (with a b, not a m) blooms in February!
  • Parks. I noticed parked cars at the entrances to hiking trails at some of our parks. We took a walk the following day in the warm sun with great views.
  • The ocean. You are never more than a few minutes from the encircling coastline of southern Vancouver Island. Its an important part of the beauty we enjoy with kayaking, sailing, fishing and crabbing, whale-watching, diving or just beachcombing.
  • Saanich Peninsula attractions include all the above with many others like Butterfly Gardens, Mount Douglas, the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, Sidney the book town, Horticulture Centre of the Pacific, Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre.
  • Golf courses – more than you can shake a golf club at, where you can play golf year-round.
  • Eat and drink at fruit stands, farm markets, restaurants, pubs and coffee shops.

After our jaunt we sat on the terrace of our B&B (strangely, there were no guests that weekend: their loss) with books and glasses of Saanich Peninsula wine. You should join us. Ah, the joys of life!