Making the Most of Our Backyard
Being a Calgary boy, I am used to dry, pastoral landscapes and no noteworthy bodies of water. Your escape to the outdoors requires an hour and half-ish drive to the Banff National Park area.
Now, I am not complaining about my hour trek from Calgary to one of the most beautiful places on earth (maybe some bias), but Vancouver Island and its surrounding area is a whole different game. There are all the amenities that Alberta offers, plus more: the coast, and no snow!
With this being said, I am trying to explore as much of this paradise as I can while I am here. I have found some gems as close as five minutes from school, all the way into the Gulf Islands. Although I have only just scraped the top layer of all the adventures surrounding us, here are some of my favourite spots to date:
1. Cadboro (Caddy) Bay
I feel as though Caddy Bay is near and dear to all UVic community members. Just a 5-10 minute walk down Sinclair Rd. from campus and you are standing on sand, and catching whiffs of that salty air. No picture to showcase here, so it is your job to get down there and see it for yourselves!
2. Cadboro Bay Beach
Possibly my favourite beach within reasonable distance from campus. This beach looks like it stretches for days, and is dangerously peaceful. A great spot for a stroll, throw the frisbee, catch a sunset, or anything in between.
3. Breakwater/Beacon Hill Park
Almost right downtown, Beacon Hill Park, has plenty of walking paths, a dog park, and a beach.
Just beyond Beacon Hill Park is the Breakwater (photo right). Definitely a worth while trek downtown for these two spots, and their surrounding activities.
4. Trestle Bridge Hike
The further from the downtown core, or UVic, the most craggier the hikes get. The landscape starts to turn into dense forest, and rocky mountains (almost…).
The trestle itself is spectacular, and the hike is relatively easy. Some may recognize it as is notorious for some social media posts.
BEWARE if scared of heights.
5. Sombrio/China Beach Area
Sombrio beach came as a complete mistake while searching for Mystic Beach. Although Mystic is still on my “to do” list, Sombrio did not disappoint.
Softest sand I’ve seen on the island, and the water was too tempting to not go for a cold dip. If you have access to a vehicle, the windy drive takes roughly an hour and half each way.
6. Salt Spring Island
Over reading break, my girlfriend and I ventured to Salt Spring Island. Via car and 45 minute ferry, we had reached our destination. With rocky coast, and various mountains to hike, days fly by.
At night time, on a clear night, the stars illuminate the canvas overhead like nowhere else I have seen. Proximity allows for one to adventure to the island for the day, or relax over a couple!
As I mentioned before, this is a minuscule sample of some of the exploring to be done in our backyard. My future adventures include Mystic Beach and Sooke.
I would love some recommendations, or insight if anyone has some noteworthy destinations they are willing to share!
Thanks for the great reminder of all the nature near Victoria.
Try some of the BC Parks located on the island. My favourite is Rathtrevor in Parksville. Great camping and when the tide goes out you can walk about a kilometre out to the water’s edge. I also like Miracle Beach just past Courtenay and Strathcona Park for a fresh water experience.
If you’re willing to go a little further up island, there is the lovely Gabriola Island, home to many artists (look for their semi-annual studio tour), Coombs, which has the best local market under a sod roof that is maintained by a family of goats, and the exotic bird sanctuary just outside of Coombs, which houses many parrots and cockatoos who had become homeless.