Day Trips

Day trips

  1. Drive out beyond Sooke towards Port Renfrew along the West Coast Road. There are several parks (China Beach and French Beach are the largest) and beaches along the way and a major hiking trail (the Juan de Fuca Trail) which can take days to complete.  Rather than retracing your steps, you can drive back across the island to Cowichan Lake and south to Victoria through Duncan.

  2. Visit Duncan via the Malahat Drive, stopping at the viewpoints along the way.  While there, be sure to visit the Raptor Centre and see the display of free flying owls, eagles, vultures etc.  The adjacent Forest Discovery Centre is largely geared for children, but does explain quite a lot about the forest industry in BC.
  3. Visit Salt Spring Island – take the ferry from Swartz Bay.  The island is very “arts and crafts” oriented and there is a farmers’ market on Saturday mornings.  A drive to the top of Mt. Maxwell gives some great views.  To make a round trip there is another ferry from Vesuvius on the NW side of Saltspring to Crofton on Vancouver Island.  It would be about a 90 minute drive back to our home from there.  Doing the trip the other way (ie clockwise) allows you to stop at the viewpoints on the Malahat Drive which are only accessible when northbound.
  4. Visit other of the Gulf Islands by ferry.  Our favourite (and with the best public beach access) is Pender Island – but be sure to plan your return trip as the ferries are very infrequent.  If you just want a mini cruise, you can park your car at Swartz Bay terminal and go on as foot passengers for a 3-hour cruise round some of the Gulf Islands.   Be warned that the food services are minimal and take a picnic if necessary!

  5. Visit the wineries of the Cowichan Valley.  (In the foregoing link, choose Vancouver Island and then zero in on the area around Duncan.)  There are many of them, making very pleasant, light wines.  The whites tend to be better than the reds.  Our favourites include Zanatta (try the bubbly), Alderlea, Cherry Point and Blue Grouse, but there are several that we have not tried as they have multiplied greatly in the last 5 years.  Vignetti Zanatta and Merridale Cidery have excellent lunches.  Remember that the breath alcohol limit in BC is .05 and that car insurance is not valid if impaired.  Spitting of samples into the provided buckets is perfectly acceptable.

  6. Take the Coho Ferry to Port Angeles, Washington and go up to Hurricane Ridge.   It is a beautiful drive on a nice day with spectacular views and there are many walks/hikes at the top.  Be sure to have a reservation as this ferry is very popular in the summer.