Visit Botanical Beach via Port Renfrew Vancouver Island
Take a road trip to the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. Located off the mainland coast of Canada, Vancouver Island has much to offer. While much of the Island remains rugged, towns and cities also share the space.
There now is a paved road connecting the hamlet of Port Renfrew with Lake Cowichan. A driver may leave the Island Highway at the town of Duncan(city of totems), travel to Lake Cowichan, Port Renfrew, Jordan River, Sooke , Victoria and back to Duncan without retracing his route. In late May I travelled that route for the first time in nearly 50 years. Much has changed, not the least of which is asphalt on the connector. The road is two lane including the bridges. We travelled the Lake Cowichan to Port Renfrew stretch on a Sunday, avoiding the large logging trucks.
Logging has been a major industry on Vancouver Island and remains an important generator of revenue and employment. Active logging is taking place here and a healthy respect for the mass and speed of the trucks carrying logs is crucial. The section between Lake Cowichan and Port Renfrew will take you about an hour and a half. Remember to gas up because there are no services between.
Post Renfrew is gaining popularity as an outdoor tourist destination. It has tourist accommodations varying from campsites to cabins on the water. It is a good idea to check out what is available online and make reservations ahead of time.
This is rainforest territory. Some of the biggest trees in the world have been saved from the lumber mills. The southern end of the West Coast Trail starts here. South from Port Renfrew you can hike the Juan de Fuca Trail. You can hike day trips or the whole 47 km as a multiday hike. This is rainforest and exposed ocean territory so take precautions.
An easy day hike is to Botanical Beach Provincial Park. There is a generous parking lot and a well maintained trail to the beach. No fresh water is available so you should be prepared to pack your own. The trail is not suitable for the physically challenged as some areas have steps and uneven ground. The trail gently slopes down to the beach. Low or falling tide is best for viewing the tide pools.
After your stop in Port Renfrew continue on the road to Jordan River, a former logging camp with scattered homes now being built. Obey all road signs. The road is twisty and most bridges are one lane. Yield to oncoming traffic. There is one particularly tricky section that is being worked on currently. Some wag has posted a sign, “Really, slow down. Motorcycle Launch Area.” You get the message. The Port Renfrew to Sooke road is also paved.
If you have the time, there are many more beaches and trails to explore on your way to the small town of Sooke.
If you go:
· Make sure your vehicle is in good working order.
· Check road conditions before starting out.
· Any trip to the west coast of Vancouver Island may be rainy. Be prepared and hope for sunny days.
· Much of this area is still wilderness. Use common sense and keep children in sight at all times. If you have a dog with you always keep it leashed. Bears and cougars are common in this area but rarely bother anyone.
· Travel time from Lake Cowichan to Port Renfrew approximately 1.5 hours driving. Travel time from Port Renfrew to Sooke about 2 hours driving time.
· Remember your camera.