Kayaking the Sooke Basin on Vancouver Island
A Beginner's & Intermediate's Kayaking Experience on the Sooke Basin
The Sooke Basin on Vancouver Island is located 40 minutes from downtown Victoria, BC and is a gorgeous place to kayak, canoe or sail. It's a sheltered ocean bay that few people have heard of and offers spectacular views, quiet coves and the convenience of being located just outside of a major city.
Kayaking the Sooke Basin
I love kayaking around the Sooke Basin. In the morning, the air is still, the water is calm and the silence is unbelievable. There are plenty of coves with thick forests down to the coastline and a huge amount of wildlife (eagles, herons & seals).
The Sooke Basin is about 3 km by 4 km wide and is surrounding by the communities of Sooke, Saseenos and East Sooke, BC. We spent a week at a waterfront cottage in East Sooke, on the southwest side of the basin, and leisurely explored Cooper, Roche and Anderson Cove from the convenience of our own private dock. For day trippers, there are three public launch sites located at Anderson Cove (near East Sooke Park), Cooper's Cove (5 km before the town of Sooke) and the Government Dock (located in town).
We started exploring the waters from the southwest side of the basin and went clockwise. In the afternoon, there was a wind from the southwest and we decided to keep it behind us. This meant that on the way back, we would be protected by the hills of East Sooke Park along the southern shore.
From Comfort Cove Cottage, we rounded the small island in front to warm up our shoulders & backs. We were told that the island was sacred to the local T'Sou-ke natives and so we didn't make landing. Besides, another couple was already there enjoying a romantic embrace on a rocky outcropping.
We followed the shoreline to the north and paddled past Head Hill. Not knowing the tide schedule (oops), we didn't enter this narrow channel where the tidal flow would obviously be quite a bit faster. Instead, we slowly drifted past the oceanfront homes and condos along Kaltasin Road. There, tucked into the shore, was a classic longboat that was built in celebration of Sooke's bicentennial landing by Manuel Quimper (June 1790). Its crew was not enjoying the autum afternoon.
Next we went past a small marina that had large yachts parked in its slips. We felt a bit out of place in our narrow, yellow kayaks and so continued to paddle eastward towards Cooper's Cove. The lack of boat traffic on the basin made for a quiet afternoon.
Cooper's cove was a picturesque bay which sheltered some industrial ships and smaller yachts. At the rear of the cove, we could see a large dock with plenty of kayaks. This was where Rush Adventures, a local kayak outfitter, was based. A few days later we would again enjoy the view of Cooper's Cove from the table at the Fuse Waterfront Grill Restaurant.
As we made our way along the shoreline, leaving Cooper's Cove, we had an unexpected chat with a couple walking their dog along the Galloping Goose Trail. They and their dog were enjoying a leisurely stroll along the waterfront trail and asked if we were enjoying the magnificent west coast views. We answered, "How could we not?"
We continued our journey and made our way to the eastern side of the basin to Roche Cove. It greeted us with a small entrance spanned by a wooden trestle bridge. The narrow channel could have been hard to exit if the tide was coming in, but the serene enclave looked too inviting to pass.
Thick forests surrounded Roche Cove and made it seem like this small area was wrapped in a green blanket. The air was still and the water was glassy The secluded cove was about 300m long but still felt cozy. This coastal jewel was truly amazing.
As we exited the cove, an assist from the outgoing tide made the travel easier. We paddled to the nearby Goodrich Islands, a group of three small islands directly in front of the Roche Cove channel. Similar to the other island in the Sooke Basin, we had previously read that these were sacred grounds for the T'Sou-ke people so we didn't venture forth. We could tell that other people had recently landed here to enjoyed a quiet moment together.
We made our way back along the southern shore, skipping Anderson Cove. The afternoon sun began to make us weary and so we leisurely paddled back to the dock at the cottage. Sheltered by the hills of East Sooke Park, the winds didn't slow us.
After we pulled our kayaks onto the large dock, we made our way up to the cottage for some food and rest. We love paddling the Sooke Basin.
Important Local Contacts
- Tide table for the Sooke Basin
- Local weather forecast for Sooke, BC
- Marine weather conditions for southern Vancouver Island
- Rejuvenate at Comfort Cove Cottage
- Kayak Rentals and Tour Operator
- Longboat Tours on the Sooke Basin
- Hiking in East Sooke Park
- Fuse Oceanfront Grill
- Markus' Wharfside Restaurant
- Nautical Map 3411 of the Sooke Basin, Sooke, BC and some of Juan de Fuca Strait.
- Find a romantic place to stay at Heavenly Hideaways.
- Find a petfriendly accommodation at Petfriendly.ca.
- Try going for a hike in East Sooke Park.
- Things to do in Victoria, BC
- Hike the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island. The Pacific Rim National Park is 2 hours north of Sooke, BC.
How to Get Here
From Victoria, take the TransCanada Highway #1 heading north. Turn West at Exit #14 onto Highway #14 (Millstream Road) and head towards Sooke. Turn right at Sooke Road and follow this road (Highway #14) to the town of Sooke, BC.
Flights to Victoria, BC
There are daily direct flights from across Canada to Victoria.