Activities and Attractions
Vancouver Island is known as one of the
most beautiful places on the planet to visit and many tourists
comment at how lucky we are to live in such a place. They
are absolutely right and we know it!
In fact in 2003 the city of Victoria took top spot and was
named the best city in the America's by Condé Nast
Traveler magazine. Condé Nast Traveler also consistently recognizes
Vancouver Island as one of the best islands to visit in North America.
The Sooke River provides a great
place to cool off in the summer.
If you like beautiful coastal scenery,
a year round moderate climate, clean fresh air, very few pesky
insects, abundant wildlife and sea life, a slower relaxing
Island lifestyle and an endless selection of outdoor activities
to enjoy, then you need to visit us here on Vancouver Island.
If it takes more than a west coast salmon
fishing trip and a 30-pound plus chinook salmon on the end
of your line to excite you, then look at what else we can
On Vancouver Island you will find numerous world class golf
courses, some of the best scuba diving on the west coast (many
of Canada's decommissioned naval destroyers are now artificial
reefs in prime diving areas), skiing in the winter months
(Mt. Washington receives the largest annual snowfall in B.C.),
surfing on the west coast beaches, ocean wind surfing that
will test any ability, ocean kayaking, horseback riding and
some of the best summer and winter fresh water fishing found
A Few Facts About Vancouver Island
For those of you who will be first time
visitors to our little paradise on the west coast, here are
a few answers to questions we are asked frequently.
The cliffs along the Sooke River
are great places from which to dive or jump
The Island is 282 miles long and is 62
miles across at its widest point, for a total land mass of
12,408 sqare miles. Population is over 750,000 of which most
is concentrated in the south and along the eastern shores.
Summer temperatures are usually in the mid 70's and up into
the low 80's (Fahrenheit) with low humidity. Temperatures
occasionally reach the 90's.
There are often light cool coastal breezes near the ocean
beeches. Coastal fog on the west side of the Island can create
summer temperatures that are cooler over the ocean.
Winter temperatures can dip down to freezing overnight but
it is more common for our 50-degree ocean waters to keep daytime
air temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees.
Most precipitation falls in November and the early spring
and southern Vancouver Island receives half the annual rainfall
of both Vancouver and Seattle!
Sooke & Victoria Attractions (so much to do and so little
|The Galloping Goose Trail attacts
hikers, cyclists and equestrians.
The Galloping Goose Trail is a reclaimed
railroad line that at one time was used to transport timber
and lumber between Sooke and Victoria. The trail is now used
by both hikers and bicyclists and provides a scenic route
over its 60 km (40 miles) length between Victoria and Leechtown.
Scenic highlights along the trail include Roche Cove Regional
Park, Matheson Lake Regional Park and the Sooke Potholes Provincial
Park. Both the Potholes and Matheson Lake are busy and popular
summer swimming areas. Bring your own bikes or rent them locally.
Other hiking areas include East Sooke Park which features
a day hike along a rugged and scenic coastal trail.
|The scenic Galloping Goose Trail
as it passes Roche Cove near Sooke.
Other beaches worthy of exploration include
Weirs Beach, French Beach, Sandcut Beach, China Beach, Sombrio
Beach, Mystic Beach and Botanical Beach. The Juan de Fuca
Trail connects most of these beaches as it cuts its way through
47 km of coastal rainforest.
For those with less time to explore, the beaches are also
accessible by trail heads connected to Highway #14. The tidal
pools at Botanical Beach, just west of Port Renfrew, should
be included as a must see for anyone visiting the area. Check
for low tides which present the best viewing of this wonder
A great site for complete info and pictures of all the beaches
and parks is found at the BC Parks Recreation Juan
de Fuca Provincial Park site.
For bike rentals and tours check the following links: Cycle
BC Rentals, and Sport
For the most serious of hikers you can
reserve a date to hike the West Coast Trail. Limited numbers
of hikers are allowed on the trail at one time and must pay
a fee for the privilege of this 5-day adventure.
The route follows an old lifesaving trail established in the
early 1900's which gave those sailors who ship wrecked and
made shore on Vancouver Island's West Coast a chance to walk
out to safety.
Excellent pictures of the trail can be viewed at VancouverIslandOutdoors.com,
and good place for detailed info can be found at Victoria
The Vancouver Island is a golfer's paradise.
World class courses that remain open year round offer endless
challenges and enjoyment in breathtaking locales.
Local golfers are a spoiled bunch. Courses such as Victoria
Golf Club, Royal Colwood Golf Club, Uplands Golf Club, Gorge
Vale Golf Club, Olympic View Golf Club, Cordova Bay Golf Course
and the newly opened Nicholas-designed Bear Mountain Golf
Club are only a few of the links available on the lower Island.
Most of the private clubs do welcome visitors. If fishing
and golf are two of your outdoor passions then let us put
package a trip for you that combines a chance at catching
your chinook salmon trophy and shooting your all time lowest
round.. Good information about local courses with many direct
links are found at Greater
Orcas put on a spectacular show
Whale watching has become one of the most
popular activity enjoyed by visitors to the southern Island.
Whales spotted regularly include 3 pods of southern resident
killer whales (salmon hunters) numbering about 85 family members.
Local waters also see numerous visits by smaller pods of transient
killer whales (sea mammal hunters), grey whales, a few humpback
and minke whales.
The local resident killer whales are the most popular to watch
as they are the most playful and entertaining and often put
on an awesome show. It is almost as if they know they are
being watched and do their part to entertain with leaps that
clear the water or chase each other at top speed.
You may be lucky enough to watch the resident whales take
a hooked salmon from an angler's line or a transient pod as
they take a seal.
Race Rocks located close to Victoria is a haul out and feeding
area for Stellar and California Sea Lions which often number
into the hundreds. This area is often included as a must see
on whale watching trips departing from either Victoria or
Sooke. It is here that the best chance of seeing the transient
killer whales hunt down and take a seal exists.
There are some great live web cams located on Race
Rocks with close up views of the sea lions as well
as underwater cams showing bottom life.
Three hour whale watching trips are offered during the whale
watching season by a long time local operator. We will gladly
help you set up a trip with him. Visit him online at Sooke
The coastal waters of British Columbia
offer some the best
|There are many places to explore
via kayak all around the southern tip of Vancouver Island.
boating (sailing and power) opportunities
on the west coast of North America. Rugged untouched outer
waters and beaches, beautiful and extensive coastal inlets,
the Gulf Islands and San Juan Islands located near Victoria
are a mariners paradise and attract pleasure craft of every
description from all parts of the world.
Calm, sheltered and scenic waters make it an ideal playground
for sailors, kayakers and power cruisers. There are countless
islands to explore and coastal island towns to visit.
Catch a small commuter ferry from Sidney for a day trip to
Sidney Island and Sidney Spit Marine Park. Relax on one of
the best and longest sandy beaches in the area or hike the
trails which lead you through the forest and out to a field
where hundreds of Fallow Deer graze.
Facilities here include docks, (summer months) moorage buoys,
toilets and campsites. (tents only) Salt Spring Island (the
largest of the Gulf Islands) is home to many well known artists.
Ganges is the largest town of the island and is a great place
to visit by boat or by car. Bare boat and skippered charters
are available as are kayak rentals, tours and lessons.
Victoria hosts the largest offshore yacht racing event held
in the Pacific Northwest. Every May hundreds of sailing enthusiasts
gather in the Victoria Inner Harbour for the chance to mingle
and compete with fellow mariners.
The Swiftsure International
Yacht Race began back in 1930 when 4 boats entered
the first race. Today the race draws up to 450 vessels from
all over the world to this weekend event.
When you book a fishing trip on this May weekend you get the
added bonus of having one of the best seats in the house to
watch the yachts as they transit Juan De Fuca Straits.
The 2004 event is scheduled for May 29-31.
|A tranquil beach makes an ideal
place for a lunch break after a morning on the water
Kayaking info, tours and rental links:
West Coast Adventures,
Ecomarine Ocean Kayak Centre,
Vancouver Island Canoe and Kayak Centre,
and Ocean River Sports.
For info on a 3-hour sailing tour departing from Victoria
go to www.eco-correct.com.
For extended tours aboard a 80' motor sailer with excursions
along the entire B.C. coast (including the Queen Charlotte
Islands) check out Explore
If you prefer a houseboat vacation on one of the largest inland
lakes on Vancouver Island you can book a boat with Vancouver
Island Houseboats. They are located on Cowichan Lake
about 1.5 hours north of Victoria.
Salmon Spawning (fall)
Goldstream Park is located just 15 minutes
from downtown Victoria and every year it draws thousands of
people to watch an annual spectacle of nature. From mid-October
until the end of November salmon in the tens of thousands
leave the ocean and return to the Goldstream estuary and then
make their way upstream to spawn.
The park offers easily accessible riverside trails which allow
for close up encounters with large pacific salmon as they
complete their life cycle. At many points along the stream
the salmon are right at your feet as the trails and river
banks are one and the same.
Down at the river estuary their are dozens of bald eagles
which gather to feast on the carcasses of the dead salmon.
They perch in the trees and can be observed from a nature
centre that has a powerful video camera set up to allow very
close up views of these large birds of prey.
The nature centre also has exhibits explaining the life cycle
of pacific salmon, the different salmon species and also the
various birds found within the park. Also watch for the massive
Cedar trees found along the park trails, some were young trees
when Columbus discovered America in 1492.
Ample parking is located just off the Trans Canada Highway
(#1) and adjacent the river and trails.
Bring a camera!!
More info on the park, trails and campsites can be found here
at the BC Parks Recreation Goldstream
Provincial Park site.
Ocean Shore Fishing (Salmon)
So you think hooking and landing a large
chinook salmon on light tackle while fishing from a boat would
be an ultimate challenge. Try landing that same fish from the
rocks at Otter Point without the maneuverability a boat affords.
Otter Point is one of the popular shore casting spots where
local and visiting anglers try their luck against the mighty
pacific salmon. The tides of Juan De Fuca Strait draw migrating
salmon in close to the beach where shore fishers can reach them
with weighted casting lures.
The largest chinook salmon caught from the rocks at Otter Point
in the past few years went 45 pounds. The angler who caught
this fish needed the help of a fellow fisherman to land the
The story begins when the lucky angler decides to stop and try
his luck when passing by the area while on a lunch break. He
didn't have a landing net with him as he wasn't planning on
doing any fishing. After hooking into the big fish and fighting
it for some time it became apparent he wasn't going to be able
to get the big salmon up onto the rocks. The water drops off
quite quickly so getting into the water to hand gill the fish
is not an option either.
As a last resort he managed to get the attention of a passing
boat. That fisherman beached his small boat just west of the
Otter Point rocks, grabbed his landing net and scrambled up
the rocks to where the he could help land the big fish.
The team effort resulted in the 45 pound chinook finally being
A good casting rod and reel fully loaded with 12 to 15 pound
test line, a good landing net, a selection of lead casting lures
and a tidal water fishing licence is all that is needed to enjoy
a day fishing from Otter Point. Wearing a life jacket is a good
idea as the rocks can be slippery close to the waters edge and
the tides that bring the salmon here are very strong at times.
(children should always wear a life jacket when near the water).
The rocks and Provincial Park at Otter Point are easily reached
from highway 14# about 6 miles west of Sooke.
The summer sea and wind conditions in
the Sooke area offer a reliable opportunity for a day combining
morning salmon fishing and late afternoon or early evening windsurfing.
|Catching a wave at the Jordan River
During the summer months a typical day in Juan De Fuca Straits
begins with flat calm seas which persist all morning. In the
early afternoon as daytime temperatures peak the thermal winds
begin to build from the SW, often reaching 25 to 30 knots. These
strong afternoon and evening winds present a challenge and a
lot of fun to the experienced windsurfer.
Gordon's Beach and Tugwell Creek are popular windsurfing spots
because there is public access to the beaches and the afternoon
winds arrive here before any other place within Juan De Fuca
Straits. Both are found after a 6 mile drive west of Sooke and
about 1 mile from the fishing hot spot at Otter Point.
Ocean water temperatures don't change much here from the 9`C
(50`F) norm, so a wet suit is a necessity.
Book a couple of mornings fishing with us and enjoy the challenge
of both landing a 30 pound salmon on light tackle and then later
riding a board propelled by a 30 knot ocean breeze, all on the
The winter months are when frequent offshore storms send large
ocean swells crashing onshore and where the surfing community
waits to ride them. Jordan River and Sombrio Beach are the 2
favorite spots where you will find the right conditions and
waves for surfing.
Jordon River is a small community about 33 KM (20 miles)west
of Sooke and Sombrio Beach is another 24 KM (15 miles) west
of Jordon River. A popular site with up to date info is located
here at www.bigwavedave.ca.
The Pacific Northwest is well known as one of
the best places on the planet to scuba dive and explore the
ocean depths. Colorful and diverse sea life, excellent underwater
visibility, sunken artificial reefs and hundreds of wrecks
attract divers here from every corner of the world.
Vancouver Island is smack in the centre of what is commonly
known as the "Graveyard of the Pacific". Many sailing
ships and modern era vessels have been lost over the years
and lay on the bottom and are accessible to most competent
More recently many of the Canadian Navies last generation
of outdated destroyers were stripped of all hazards and contaminants,
prepped for easy accessibilty to inside compartments for divers
and then sunk in strategic local diving areas which offer
safe conditions to dive these artificial reefs.
Mackenzie was sunk just off the town of Sidney. Check
out the Artificial
Reef Society of BC site for more info.
Other popular local dive sites and info can be found on VancouverIsland.com's
British Columbia's wilderness areas are known
world wide by camping enthusiasts. Provincial and private
campsites offer endless camping possibilities in almost every
corner of the Province.
For those who really enjoy getting away and from it all and
finding their own little paradise away from home it gets now
better than Vancouver Island. Countless inland fresh water
lakes, streams and thousands of miles of ocean coastline are
waiting to be explored by visiting outdoor enthusiasts.
Almost all the prime saltwater and fresh water fishing areas
are assessable by roads and campsites are located close to
All you need is a good map and some free time to enjoy the
camping holiday of a lifetime.
Our vessels are located at Sooke Harbour Marina which conveniently
has a RV campsite on site and offers full hookups. If you
rent a RV from Alldrive Canada Inc you can receive a discount
voucher for a 15% discount off our regular charter prices!
You will find Alldrive Canada Inc. on-line at www.alldrive.com.
The Sooke Harbour House Restaurant
A driftwood themed parking lot
Enjoying local cousine is one of the most
pleasurable experiences when you travel to new destinations
or revisit your favorite retreats.
Vancouver Island is blessed with an abundance of fresh local
produce, herbs, local farm raised meats which even includes
ostrich, the freshest and most flavourful seafoods with pacific
salmon and shellfish being a specialty and our own Vancouver
Island and B.C. wines. The food, the wines and the chefs who
prepare your gourmet meals have been recognized around the
world with many top culinary awards.
Sooke is home to one of the top recognized restaurants and
hotels in the world.
Harbour House Hotel is world renowned for both its
unique gourmet food made from locally produced organic ingredients
and its unmatched romantic ambience. The hotel has also won
top awards for its extensive wine selection (Wine Spectator),
and goes the extra mile with fresh greens, herbs and edible
flowers it grows in the beautiful gardens surrounding the
The Sooke Harbour
House Hotel also features locally made works of art
of every description through out the hotels, rooms, hallways,
common areas and the outside grounds. Most of this artwork
is for sale and your favorite piece can be purchased.
Another longtime favorite Sooke restaurant is
Mom's Cafe. This popular local diner has been serving up generous
portions of tasty home cooked fare for decades. When you dine at
"Mom's" you will feel that time has stood still. Milk
shakes are still served in the old style aluminum mixing machine
They still make their own pies in their adjacent bakery and they
serve a well known local favorite called "Bluenose Seafood
Chowder". A seafood chowder which is served in a bread bowl
and it will remind you what a seafood chowder should taste like.
A great place to fill up after a day of fishing or for a hearty
breakfast to give you the energy to fight the big one..
A short 45 minute drive from Sooke to downtown
Victoria puts you in the middle of a shopper's heaven. The city's
layout encourages you to stroll, explore and browse through the
many downtown shops, markets and alleys. In downtown Victoria you
will find everything from antiques, local crafts and art, native
art and jewellery, specialty shops of every description and souvenirs.
Along Government Street you will find shops selling chocolates,
teas, coffees, bone china from England, woolens, tartans from Scotland,
Irish Lace, Christmas decorations and local souvenirs. Turn up Fort
Street for blocks of antique shops featuring rare china, silver,
coins, toys, furniture and much more. Fort Street is also known
as Antique Row.
At Fisgard & Government Streets is the entrance to Canada's
oldest Chinatown. Enter through the Gate of Harmonious Interest
for shops featuring art, curios, home furnishings and Asian wares
and Chinese foods. Find north America's narrowest street at Fan
Tan Alley. Once a notorious place with many opium dens and gambling
houses, Fan Tan Alley is now lined with shops and restaurants.
Other places of interest include Trounce Alley, Bastion Square and
Market Square all located downtown and an easy walk will get you
to see all of them.
For those who are restricted in the distance they are able to walk
there are many Kabuki cabs available downtown and local buses offer
great service downtown and out to the surrounding areas. You can
even catch a harbour ferry from numerous pickup docks and either
transit to the opposite shore of the harbour or take a complete
And don't forget to take in very popular high tea at the Fairmont
Empress Hotel, which is located on the harbour downtown.