A Forest and Beach Day, Saanich to Port Renfrew

Day 12, May 7th, turned to be almost funny. I had planned a 260-km old-growth-forest, big-tree circle trip that would take most of the day. We ended up back at the RV park 10 hours later having seen maybe 1/3 of the route. Hour after hour, one incredible beach and/or forest after another stopped us for a walk, some of them quite lengthy. You really should allow a week to see the route properly.

We left Oceanside at about 10:00 as is our norm, and an hour later, made a detour to see the Sooke Potholes, mostly because it’s an intriguing name. This is a park that requires a day to see, because pretty much everything except this waterfall requires a hike down into the canyon. We simply didn’t have that much time when we didn’t know what the attractions down there were.

Waterfall at Sooke Potholes
This huge chimney and a series of large stone foundations were intriguing but none of the park signs mention them. My guess is that they’re from a massive lodge that used to be here – they don’t appear to me to be industrial.

Huge chimney at the Sooke Potholes
At noon, we were walking down the trail to a beach that a friend had highly recommended – Sandcut Beach.

Trail to Sandcut Beach, BC
Our first look at Sandcut Beach. Oh my! Yes, that’s a superb way to start the day.

Trail to Sandcut Beach, BC
We were enjoying the beach here – the surf and the sun were perfect. Then a fellow stopped and told us about some waterfalls a bit south along the beach, so we continued walking.

Sandcut Beach, BC
Well that was certainly worth the walk!

Waterfall on Sandcut Beach, BC
In the shade around the corner was another waterfall.

Waterfall on Sandcut Beach, BC
Getting behind the first waterfall produced some interesting photos. By the time we got back to the car, an hour and a half had passed. And we were hungry.

Waterfall on Sandcut Beach, BC
We drove through Jordan River just north of Sandcut Beach, then did a U-turn to have lunch at the Cold Shoulder Cafe, a quirky little place with wonderful food. The date squares and macaroons we bought for a later snack were quite exceptional, and didn’t survive until “later” 🙂

Cold Shoulder Cafe in Jordan River, BC
The beach across the road from the Cold Shoulder was lovely, and the regional park at the south end of it would be a great place to spend a day or 4.

Beach at Jordan River, BC
Een though the highway runs along the coast, there are few views of the ocean. Then the loggers arrived. They get jobs, other people get to build homes, I get great views, and more road/trail access to the beach is being created. Win, win, win, win 🙂

Logging along the coast north of Port Renfrew, BC
A wrong turn at Port Renfrew took us across this long one-lane bridge. We didn’t go very far before turning around.

It was a good wrong turn, though – this is the view from the bridge. Cathy and I are pretty sure that we need to end up on the coast somewhere, some day.

A beach at Port Renfrew, BC
The beach attraction at Port Renfrew is Botanical Beach. The loop walk is 2.5 km long, and the first beach you come to is Botany Beach, seen in the next photo.

Botany Beach, BC
As spectacular as Botany Beach is, Botanical Beach is even better, though the power of the place doesn’t come across well in photos. The vast field of flat sandstone pock-marked with tide-pools and edged by rugged rocks are what have made Botanical Beach so well known. This is the view to the south.

Botanical Beach, BC
The view to the north.

Botanical Beach, BC
The forest that lines the beach is very impressive in its own right. The trees are massive – spruce, Douglas fir and red cedar mostly – and the undergrowth is luxuriant.

Forest at Botanical Beach, BC
The ever-present powerful surf. Beautiful, but dangerous if you don’t respect it.

Surf at Botanical Beach, BC
Tidepools at Botanical Beach range from very shallow to about 3 feet deep. Bella slipped into a deep one but recovered quickly.

Tidepool at Botanical Beach, BC
Three-quarters of my beautiful family soaking up the sun and the power at Botanical Beach.

My family at Botanical Beach, BC
Past the rocks that border the south edge of Botanical Beach is this little beach, perhaps even better than the main one. The family was waiting, so I didn’t explore this one.

Botanical Beach, BC
Looking up to the forest canopy on the walk back to the car. Being close to this sort of forest is what I loved the most about living in Chilliwack almost 30 years ago.

Botanical Beach, BC
Almost back to the car. It was after 5:00 when we started the drive back to the RV park in Saanichton. Although we had accomplished little that was on my list (none of the specific big trees), it had been an amazing day.

Botanical Beach, BC

The perfect weather we got was not common here, and highly appreciated for a beach day. The next day, we’d drive towards Tofino, overnighting somewhere along the way.


A Forest and Beach Day, Saanich to Port Renfrew — 4 Comments

  1. “The perfect weather we got was not common here, and highly appreciated for a beach day”. Yeah, no doubt. You also got there at low tide it looks like. Perfect. My problem is making myself stop in time to get back to the car when hiking around there – being the end of the Juan de Fuca trail, you can carry on walking for quite a ways 😀

  2. I have followed your writings for some time and enjoyed the pictures and tidbits of info. Also like your love of dogs also, since our children have always been 4 legged. I live outside Calgary (actually about 20 minutes east of Airdrie) and haven’t had the chance to venture in your northerly direction but envy your travels up there. We have traveled a great deal of BC though. I am a big history nut also (especially BC and railroad history), so figured I would help you with a bit more history of the ruins at Sooke Potholes, if you haven’t already found them. Here is a link to a news article on them http://www.sookenewsmirror.com/community/deertrail-resort-a-ruins-or-a-lost-dream/ . Enjoy your trip. We are hoping to be on the island in September.

    • Thanks for the link, Travis – my extremely limited Internet time makes any research difficult. I’m pleased that you’re enjoying my travels 🙂

  3. Mountains and the interior are great, splendid, breathtaking even…but…there is something about Pacific beaches that is it’s own siren call.

    I know only Northern CA, OR and WA and some sections of AK, but someday hope to fill in the gaps that you are obviously enjoying now.