Southern Vancouver Island provincial parks are home to some amazing beaches, all within a one- to three-hour drive from Victoria. My family and I have been exploring these parks since moving here from Vancouver in 2012, and we have discovered that each park offers a unique character.
Situated on the southwest corner of Vancouver Island, this park runs 47 km (29 mi) from Botanical Beach, near Port Renfrew to China Beach, just west of Jordan River. It is home to the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, a challenging trek that can be conquered in three to four days, or tackled in smaller sections.
Here you’ll find a slew of memorable beaches, including China Beach and Sombrio Beach, each accessible from their own parking lots off Highway 14. Don’t miss Mystic Beach, or the spectacular sandstone tidepools at Botanical Beach. China Beach has a fully accessible campground, and other beaches along the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail allow backcountry camping.
Also on the southwest coast, French Beach is located about 20 km (12 mi) west of Sooke. The park includes a campground, and gorgeous white sand strewn with driftwood. The beach boasts spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains in Washington State. Easily within reach of Victoria, French Beach is ideal for day trips. Pack a picnic when it is sunny, or bundle up when it’s stormy, and watch the waves crash.
The sheltered stretch of coastline between Nanaimo and Campbell River on the east side of the Island is home to some of the province’s most spectacular beaches. When the tide is out at Rathtrevor, the ocean recedes almost a kilometre (0.6 mi). And as the tide rolls in over sun-warmed sand, the shallow water is perfect for swimming and splashing. Add a range of child-focused programs and activities, and Rathtrevor is a favourite spot for families.
Like Rathtrevor, Miracle Beach seems to stretch to the horizon when the tide is out. It’s a family-friendly spot with a Nature House, great opportunities for biking, and child-focused activities through the Jerry’s Rangers program (also available at Rathtrevor). Miracle Beach has become my family’s favourite annual camping destination. And not just because of the trio of craft breweries in the Courtenay-Cumberland area nearby.
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