Escape from the crowds on campus at these tranquil and beautiful beaches
It’s official, Vancouver Island is one of the best vacation spots in the world! At least according to experts over at Condé Nast Traveler, which recently named Vancouver Island one of the 16 best island vacations.
What makes our lovely Victoria such a desirable travel destination? It could be fabulous downtown brunch spots, the Butchart Gardens, or the chance to spot some orcas near the harbour. It may also have something to do with the coastline’s rugged, natural beauty which boasts a milder climate than most of Canada.
Spring and summer bring many visitors to beloved sandy bays like Willows Beach and windy lookouts like Clover Point. But if you prefer somewhere less well-trodden for your beach hikes, or for a moment of tranquility, try one of these recommendations to discover a new hidden gem!
The Gyro Park in Cadboro Bay remains popular with families and students for beach barbecues, but this idyllic bay is worth the extra 15-minute stroll along the coast. Visitors will need to navigate down Cadboro Bay Road to find the road leading up to this smaller-pebbled beach, away from the crowds. This spot is also flat, making it one of the more accessible beaches on the list.
This lovely spot is tucked away in a residential area, but is publicly accessible from Balmacarra Road. Nestled between two cliffs, this bay provides a peaceful place to look out over the waves and enjoy the view of Cormorant Point on one side and Gordon Head on the other. Parking access is limited, but brave a hike from Mount Doug to make this part of a day expedition!
One of the closest beaches to the university campus, Arbutus Cove is another of Gordon Head’s peaceful coastal haunts and is also sheltered by rocky cliffs. Head down Finnerty Road and take a left to listen to the waves in between classes. You could even brave the trails through the surrounding forests if you have time to spare. Locals know that morning is the best time to visit this bay, before the sun escapes behind the trees.
West Beach, Thetis Lake
This dog-friendly branch of Thetis Lake is towards the upper, north side of the lake. Hike or cycle right to the water’s edge from the park’s trails. Unfortunately, there are no change-rooms on this side, but this smaller bay is less popular with the tourist crowd in summer and makes a good place to launch your canoe or paddle board.
A stone’s throw from bustling Downtown Victoria, this spot feels like another world. On clear days, you can also catch a sublime view of the Olympic Mountains over the horizon line. It has a reputation as one of the best bathing spots in Victoria, due to the calm and shallow waters and shielding from harsher winds. However, always check environmental advice from Island Health to confirm swimming conditions before taking a dip.
While it might not feel quite like the island vacation of your dreams, the next time you’re looking to spend some time by the water, consider one of these five hidden gems. Just don’t tell all of your friends.