Eco-Adventures around Victoria, BC, Canada
Nature's Gallery near Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island
Vancouver Island is a picturesque island on the Pacific Coast of British Columbia, Canada.
Located on the southern tip is Victoria, BC, the capital city of British Columbia and a tourist mecca with museums, historical buildings and trendy patio cafes.
The Inner Harbour is the center for arts, entertainment, commerce and politics. But most visitors don't know that just outside the city limit is an ecotourism paradise.
The town of Sooke, BC (the name rhymes with Luke), is known as Nature's Gallery and offers outdoor adventures including hiking, ocean-side nature walks, kayaking, whale watching and even deep-water fishing. It's a secret spot that most travellers miss when they come to visit Vancouver Island.
Kayaking with Orca Whales near Sooke, BC
Sooke - Things to Do outside of Victoria, BC
Sooke, BC is a nature lover's paradise and is only 40 minutes from downtown Victoria (only 20 minutes from the suburbs), set in the thick temperate rain forest along the shores of southwestern Vancouver Island. There's plenty of things to do in Canada on and off the water for those seeking to 'get away' from their hectic urban world.
Visitors to Victoria, BC will be surprised by the scenic beauty that's so close to a major city. Spread along the scenic shores of the Sooke Basin are forested hiking trails, quiet sandy beaches and boardwalk trails. Bird watching in BC and wildlife viewing are spectacular in the spring and fall as Vancouver Island is on the Pacific flyway.
For those who love the ocean, the cold but fertile water offers great charter fishing expeditions. MASSIVE halibut and salmon can be had just offshore. Also, whale-watching tours take spectators to see Orca, Humpback and Minke whales from March to October as they pass Sooke on their migration route.
Being sheltered from the open Pacific Ocean, the Sooke Basin is an excellent place for beginner & intermediate kayakers. The water is calm and there's little surf as the hills of East Sooke Park act as a barrier to the strong westerly gusts from the Juan de Fuca Strait. Kayakers who discover the smaller coves around the perimeter will be in awe at the quiet, rugged beauty of where the rainforest meets the sea.
A little know secret is the bioluminescent plankton that frequent the waters at various times of the year. On dark nights, these small organisms emit light when disturbed. The waters become a twinkling starry sky as fish, seals and kayak paddles create an underwater fireworks display.
Sooke, BC is located next to a natural harbour that's sheltered by a narrow sand-spit, Whiffen Spit, which separates it from the Juan de Fuca Strait and the Pacific Ocean. The area has been inhabited for thousands of years by the T'Souke people who still call this sea-shore community their home.
The Sooke area is a perfect example of eco-tourism in Canada where you can find adventures on and off the water.
Zipping along in Sooke, BC on Vancouver Island
Outdoor Adventures near Victoria, BC (Vancouver Island)
Even though Sooke, BC can be considered a suburb of Victoria, it has retained it connection with nature and the sea. The economy was once dominated by logging and fishing but is now beginning to be known as an eco-tourism jewel.
Hiking in East Sooke Park
Close by is the rural community of East Sooke which is home to amazing natural scenery & coastal beauty with hiking in East Sooke Park. It's a nature reserve that borders the calm waters of the Sooke Basin on one side and the open Pacific Ocean on the other. The thick rain-forest, with its towering trees, is home to eagles, osprey, heron, bear and even cougar and wolves. The Coast Trail is one of the best day hikes in Canada.
Zipping on the Adrenaline Zipline
Vancouver Island is dominated by coastal mountains (300 meter hills are considered mountains here). Just at the entrance to the Sooke area, you'll find the Adrenaline Zipline adventure where you can traverse through the tree tops!
Ride the Inter-Urban Rail Trail
The Galloping Goose Trail is a 55 kilometer (34 mile) former railway that travels from downtown Victoria to the Sooke Hills. The tracks have been removed and a smooth, wide path meanders through the city then along the shores of the Sooke Basin and up into the mountain wilderness. On a clear day, the snow-capped peaks of the Olympic Mountains in Washington State can be scene from various viewpoints.
Walk the Boardwalk
Near the heart of Sooke, BC is an impressive boardwalk at Ed MacGregor Park. It traverses the oceanfront slope and leads to the long Rotary Pier, built to commemorate the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Enjoy the oceanfront view, watch the marine traffic in the Sooke Harbour or even attempt to catch a crab dinner from the lower dock.
The Sooke Basin experiences a tidal flow twice a day, carrying with it ocean creatures and rich nutrients. Harvest the bounty of the sea at the Rotary Pier crabbing platform or from a private dock at an oceanfront cottages for rent. Crabbing does not require a license but there are regulations on crab size & gender (1-866-431-FISH begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-866-431-FISH end_of_the_skype_highlighting)
Kayak the Sooke Basin
The sheltered waters of the Sooke Basin offers an excellent introduction to ocean kayaking for beginners and intermediates. It's 4 kilometers by 3 kilometers wide (2.5 x 2 miles) and is protected from the large breaking waves of the Pacific Ocean. Launch sites for kayaking the Sooke Basin include: Cooper's Cove, East Sooke Park at Anderson Cove and Whiffen Spit Park.
Go for a Dip
The ocean water along the BC coast is +10 C year round and gives the area the mildest climate in Canada. Some brave soles who dawn wet suits, may go for a chilly ocean dip but there's plenty of fresh water lakes and rivers to enjoy on a hot summer day. Try the pristine waters in the Sooke Potholes Provincial Park or at Matheson Lake Regional Park for great swimming.
Take a Walk on Whiffen Spit
Located just north of the Sooke town center is a sandy finger that extends into the mouth of the Sooke Harbour. It's a natural barrier that protects the Sooke Basin from the ocean waves of Juan de Fuca Strait. Walk the sandy shores or the 1.1 kilometer (0.7 mile) pathway to the unmanned lighthouse. Carry a wind-breaker or sweater as this low-lying shore is exposed to the ocean winds.
The bounty of the Sooke Water attracts all types of birds during migration season. Birdwatching in BC include eagles, herons, turkey vultures that are attracted to the plentiful fish. Along the forest hiking trails, you'll see hummingbirds, robins and woodpeckers darting though the rainforest maze.
Humpback, Killer and Minke whales frequent the waters of Vancouver Island. Tours start from Victoria & Sooke. Sea lions and seals are often spotted along the rocky shores.