If you are up to the challenge, abundant outdoor adventures in Victoria and surrounding communities are waiting in the wings, from adventures among the treetops to the bottom of the sea and everything in between. Surrounded by water on three sides, activities of the nautical type are a centre attraction in the capital city.
Outdoor Adventures in Victoria: On the Water
A favourite activity of most visitors to the city is whale watching. Not only will you experience our famous pods of orcas, but you will also see lots of other marine animals plus get a tour of our spectacular southern waters. Trips leave from several locations including Sidney and downtown from the Inner Harbour, which is the main marine activity hub in the region. See our whale watching guide for more information. A few companies to consider, include Victoria’s founding whale watching company Seacoast Expeditions, Five Star Whale Watching, Prince of Whales Whale Watching, and Springtide Whale Watching and Eco Tours. If you want to go really fast — as in cigarette boat fast — take a look at Eagle Wing Whale Watching Tours.
Salmon and Halibut Fishing
Professional guides throughout the region including Sidney, Victoria, and Sooke will be happy to take you salmon or halibut fishing. The main departure points are at the Inner Harbour and Sooke. The search for the big one can range throughout the southern waters depending on the season and where the fish are located, and you can usually expect a de facto wildlife tour during your trip as a bonus. One of the first charter operators in Victoria, Adam’s Fishing Charters is an excellent choice for consistent catches.
Sailing and Paddling
If you prefer to get out on the water for relaxing sightseeing trip by sail, consider a trip aboard the Thane tall ship with Three Hour Sail. The Gorge waterway, Inner Harbour and the small island groups surrounding Victoria make perfect areas to explore by paddle. In Victoria, Ocean River Sports and Great Pacific Adventures and in Brentwood Bay Pacifica Paddle Sports are good spots to rent kayaks. If you prefer a guided tour, consider Victoria Kayak.
BC is renowned for its gorgeous diving opportunities, and Victoria has no shortage of spectacular dive sites. A popular dive site, the Ogden Point Breakwater is a protected Marine Park and is suitable for all levels of divers. Ten Mile Point and Telegraph Bay are also popular advanced dive sites with an incredible array of marine life including spectacular nudibranchs, sculpins, wolf eels, octopus, a variety of crabs, and giant seastars and sea urchins to name just a few. Check out the Ogden Point Dive Centre at the breakwater, and Frank Whites Dive Store downtown for rental and charter information.
Outdoor Adventures in Victoria: In the Sky
Seeing the Island and rugged coastline from the air is a memorable treat. Several tour companies offer scenic flights of Victoria and surrounding area, leaving from the Hyack Float Plane Terminal and Marine Adventure Centre located in the Inner Harbour.
Outdoor Adventures in Victoria: Activities on Land
Victoria is the cycling Mecca of Canada, and many locals ride for recreation and commuting. Select routes throughout the region provide beautiful, scenic riding both on and off the pavement with a low to moderate level of difficulty. Cycle BC Rentals and Tours located downtown offers a full range of bike rentals including electric bikes, mountain bikes and children’s bikes as well as a number of suggested riding tours of various lengths so the whole family can enjoy the experience. Recommended shops for service and support include Oak Bay Bikes-in business since 1934-and North Park Bicycle Shop. Check out the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition for more information on cycling in Victoria including route maps.
Golfing is a year-round attraction, and there are a number of public and private courses spread throughout the Greater Victoria region. If you have reciprocal privileges, check out the Victoria Golf Club, Uplands Golf Club, and Royal Colwood Golf Club. Public courses-and decent ones at that-include Victoria’s newest 18 hole course; Highland Pacific Golf, 9 hole Cordova Bay Golf Course, 9 hole Prospect Lake Golf Course, 9 hole Mount Douglas Golf Course, 18 hole Olympic View Gold Club, 18 hole Cedar Hill Golf Course, Henderson Golf Course, and 9 hole Ardmore Golf Course on the Saanich Peninsula.
Walking and Hiking
Casual walking and hiking trails are scattered throughout the Victoria region and range from flat, paved, wheelchair accessible jaunts to rugged, challenging hikes along the coast or up local mountains. The Galloping Goose Regional Trail is a converted railbed, now multi-use trail, that spans 55km from Victoria through Saanich and the western municipalities of Colwood, Langford and View Royal to Sooke. Completing the linkage, the Lochside Trail, another converted railbed tees off from the Galloping Goose at Blanshard and Vernon Streets, and runs from Victoria to Swartz Bay with a one-way distance of 29 kilometres. The Lochside Trail runs through urban and farmland settings containing a combination of trail and road sections. Easy walking trails also include the Inner Harbour Walkway running from the downtown causeway to Laurel Point, the Songhees Walkway that runs the length of the Inner Harbour’s north shore, Beacon Hill Park, and the Dallas Road Waterfront. Numerous other excellent trails exist throughout the region including the Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary, Mount Douglas Park trail system, Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park and Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park to list but a few. Several challenging trails for hikers include the spectacular East Sooke Park trail network, one of the premier day hikes in Canada, and Mt. Finlayson. The hike up Mt. Finlayson is just that–straight up. However, the views from the top of the Saanich Peninsula are worth the sweat and sore muscles.
Beaches & Swimming
So you are on holiday and don’t want to walk? Have no fear, beaches are near. A number of beautiful sandy beaches lie scattered along the Southern Vancouver Island waterfront as well as many rocky and craggy areas with swirling tides and tide pools just waiting for explorers. Some of the best sandy beaches for swimming and lounging include Willows Beach in Oak Bay, Cadboro Bay Beach, Arbutus Cove along the Centennial Trail Route, Cordova Bay Beach adjacent to Mount Doug Park, Island View Beach on the Saanich Peninsula and Witty’s Lagoon in Metchosin.
Beachcombers who enjoy rocky pebbly beaches should head to Cattle Point just east of Willows Beach, Ogden Point to Clover Point along the Dallas Road Waterfront, and if you feel like a drive, the big Kahuna for tide pools; Botanical Beach at Port Renfrew on the West Coast. The most spectacular freshwater swimming holes are in Sooke at the Sooke Potholes. The Sooke River plunges through a steep canyon on its way to the sea and over time has carved a unique series of potholes – unique geological formations – that offer some of the best swimming in the region. Other lakes suitable for swimming include Elk and Beaver Lakes, Matheson Lake and Thetis Lake.