If you want to experience a great day trip from Victoria the Pacific Marine Circle route is 255 km long and show cases some fantastic views of the Juan de Fuca and Georgia Straits. If you head West from Victoria towards Sooke on Highway 14(about an hour from downtown Victoria) it is worth stopping in Sooke at the Sooke Region Museum to pick up historical information about the area. From May to September the Museum is also the site for the Summer Thursday night markets from 5-8 pm where you will find food trucks, local artisans and musicians performing.
If you have time you can turn right before the bridge and check out the Sooke Potholes which is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike. The water is clear and cool with many waterfalls and pools and picnic spots.
Remember to gas up in Sooke as there is no gas station until you reach the Cowichan Valley. You may want to stop for lunch at the famed Sooke Harbour House near Whiffen Spit. If any rooms are empty you are usually welcome to have a look at one of the uniquely designed suites or view their local art gallery.
Need a book to read on the beach? At the corner of Sooke and Church Road is a gem of a second hand book store – Well Read Books – The Next Chapter. Fancy a freshly baked pastry and a cup of tea? A new addition to Sooke’s restaurant scene is Jenny’s Country Pantry and Tea Shoppe located in the same building. At Sooke Road and Otter Point there are some funky local shops – Barking Dog, A Sea of Bloom and Stick in the Mud Cafe to check out as well.
Between Sooke and Port Renfrew there are some gorgeous beaches including French, China, Mystic and Sombrio Beaches. Definitely worth a stop near Port Renfrew is Botanical Beach. Port Renfrew is also the “ starting point” for the West Coast Trail and the “ finishing point” for the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail. From here you can veer north along a newly paved logging road where you will come across Fairy and Lizard lakes. About 25 km north east from Port Renfrew is the site of the gnarliest tree in Canada at Avatar Grove.
Head East towards Lake Cowichan where a popular past time is renting an inner tube and floating down the Cowichan River in the summer. Lake Cowichan is great for fishing and camping. Continue on Highway 1 and travel through Duncan and back towards Victoria down the Malahat.
Pacific Marine Circle Route: http://www.pacificmarinecircleroute.com/
Sooke Museum: http://www.sookeregionmuseum.ca/
West Coast Trail: http://www.westcoasttrail.com/the-trail/