Victoria inner harbour and the Fairmont Empress hotel | Fairmont Empress

Pacific Marine Circle Route

1 to 3 days, 289.08 km (179.63 mi)

This coast to coast journey on Vancouver Island offers panoramic views of the Juan de Fuca, Haro, and Georgia straits as well as the Saanich Peninsula.

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This content has been developed with spring 2022 travel conditions in mind. Stay up to date on local health orders and recommendations, spring driving, and more at: hellobc.com/know-before-you-go

Part 1

Victoria to Sooke

Victoria's Inner Harbour marina with the Parliament Buildings | Reuben Krabbe

Begin your journey in Victoria, BC’s capital city, with a tour of the Parliament Buildings. Sheltered from the ocean, this seaside destination boasts a mild climate with lush, green vegetation inviting residents and visitors alike to explore its many beaches and parks. Often referred to as the City of Gardens, the mild coastal climate allows blooms to spring as early as February.

There are city bus tours or horse-drawn carriages readily available, as well as new and historic shopping districts featuring antiques, arts and crafts, art galleries, malls and markets. Treat yourself to high tea at the ivy-covered Fairmont Empress hotel, built in 1908, or indulge in brunch at the House of  Boateng just outside of town in Langford. The menu includes cuisine from West Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Northwest.

Head north via Highway 1, and then travel west along Highway 14 to Sooke. Choose one of many bed and breakfasts to tuck into for the night. En route, make time to stop at East Sooke Regional Park for bird watching. The park also has a network of hiking trails to explore.

Part 2

Sooke

Nearby at Sooke Potholes Provincial Park, explore the geological marvels carved deep in the bedrock from the last ice age. Hikes and walks abound and offer views of the jagged coastline and inspiring vistas of Juan de Fuca Strait and the Olympic Mountains. Fishing enthusiasts can enjoy catch-and-release fishing along the Sooke River, an important spawning river for coho and chinook salmon. The park is an ideal place to watch the annual salmon-spawning run in the fall.

After all that exploring, relax over a pint at one of Sooke’s three craft breweries, or treat your taste buds to a new experience at Western Canada’s first meadery. Don’t miss the Sooke Region Museum and plan to dine at Sooke Harbour House—an award-winning west coast restaurant that only uses local ingredients.

Continue to Port Renfrew, home of both the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail and the historic West Coast Trail.

Part 3

Port Renfrew

Juan de Fuca Trail, Port Renfrew | @matttracy

Between Jordan River and Port Renfrew, signs will guide you to campgrounds and the entry points for hikes along the 47-km/29-mi Juan de Fuca Marine Trail—good for day hikers and overnight trekkers alike. Get out on the water with a whale watching tour or a fishing charter. Port Renfrew is an ideal base for salt or freshwater fishing trips, available year round. Extend your stay with a seaside cabin at Wild Renfrew.

Drive from Port Renfrew to the quaint community of Lake Cowichan.

Part 4

Lake Cowichan

Along Cowichan Lake, Vancouver Island’s second largest lake, campgrounds dot the shoreline. Take a dip, explore the lake by boat, or cast a fishing line. There are several hiking trails in the area, including a one-hour loop covering both sides of the Cowichan River in Cowichan River Provincial Park. Take in spectacular views of the canyons and gorges in BC’s temperate rainforest from the restored 66-Mile and Holt Creek railway trestles on The Great Trail.

Travel southeast to the city of Duncan to experience the wineries and farms surrounding the town.

Part 5

Duncan

Merridale Cidery | Tourism Vancouver Island/Jordan Dyck

In Duncan, take a self-guided Totem Tour Walk and visit the BC Forest Discovery Centre, which showcases BC’s logging and steam-related history through interactive exhibits and live ecosystems displays. Hop aboard a historic locomotive as it winds its way over a wooden trestle and around the museum grounds. For an adrenaline rush, visit Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit and get behind the wheel of a high-performance sports car, or let a pro do the driving while you enjoy the thrill.

Next, enjoy the fruits of the Cowichan Valley at the area’s many wineries. Spend an afternoon sipping and savouring in tasting rooms and shops, or take a guided tour of the wine-making facilities and vineyards. Head south to Cobble Hill for a hand-crafted cider and a memorable meal at Merridale Cidery & Distillery.

Part 6

South Cowichan to Victoria

Malahat Skywalk | @melaniewonder

As you head south, a visit to the Malahat Skywalk is an absolute must. Stroll the spiral boardwalk to the top (or take the stairs) and admire stunning views from 250m above the Salish Sea. The way down also comes with options—go back down the way you came, or channel your inner kid on the 20-m spiral slide.

As you head south toward Victoria, consider a stop at Bamberton and Goldstream provincial parks or the Spirit Loop to stretch your legs. Follow this scenic stretch of highway, known as Malahat Drive, or detour to Mill Bay and board a BC Ferries vessel to Brentwood Bay. This 25-minute ride, dubbed “Vancouver Island’s most beautiful shortcut,” leads to the renowned Butchart Gardens. From there, Highway 17  takes you back to Victoria.

Heading on your voyage soon? Check out the BC Ferries website for special offers and promotions. 

Driving Directions

Part 1 - Vancouver
  • 6.25 km
  • 12 min
Show Map & Driving Directions

Book the Experience

Bird Watching, Whale Watching, Wildlife Tours, Sightseeing, Accessibility

Orca Spirit Adventures

Orca Spirit Adventures is Victoria's premier whale watching company, offering carbon neutral tours led by captains and naturalists whose knowledge...

Phone: (250) 383-8411

View Listing

Attractions, Accessibility

The Butchart Gardens

Come enjoy our breathtaking 22 ha (55 acres) of gardens year around. In Spring, countless tulips, daffodils and hyacinths will give you a buffet...

Phone: (250) 652-4422

View Listing

Attractions, Museums & Heritage Sites, Accessibility

B.C. Forest Discovery Centre

This museum educates visitors about British Columbia's large and historic logging industry.

Phone: (250) 715-1113

View Listing

Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries, Campgrounds & RV Parks, Accessibility

Merridale Cidery & Distillery

Merridale is a delicious destination in Cowichan an apple orchard, craft cider house, small batch distillery, and event venue. Join us for a cider...

Phone: (800) 998-9908

View Listing

Spas & Wellness, Hotels, Resorts & Wilderness Lodges

Sooke Harbour House Hotel & Resort

Sooke Harbour House Resort Hotel is located on Southern Vancouver Island overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Olympic Mountains, and has direct beach...

Phone: (250) 642-3421

View Listing

Parks & Wilderness Areas, Storm Watching, Campgrounds & RV Parks

Juan de Fuca Provincial Park

Phone: (250) 474-1336

View Listing

Indigenous Culture, Attractions, Sightseeing, Accessibility

Malahat SkyWalk

Malahat SkyWalk is opening July 2021 as the newest outdoor experience providing the ultimate natural high on Vancouver Island – located 35...

Phone: (833) 625-2428

View Listing

Wineries & Wine Tours, Farms & Markets

Tugwell Creek Honey Farm and Meadery

Tugwell Creek Honey Farm and Meadery was liscenced in 2003 as the first Meadery in Western Canada. At our oceanside honeyfarm we hand craft the...

Phone: (250) 642-1956

View Listing

Bird Watching, Whale Watching, Wildlife Tours, Sightseeing, Accessibility

Orca Spirit Adventures

Orca Spirit Adventures is Victoria's premier whale watching company, offering carbon neutral tours led by captains and naturalists whose knowledge...

Phone: (250) 383-8411

View Listing

Attractions, Accessibility

The Butchart Gardens

Come enjoy our breathtaking 22 ha (55 acres) of gardens year around. In Spring, countless tulips, daffodils and hyacinths will give you a buffet...

Phone: (250) 652-4422

View Listing

Attractions, Museums & Heritage Sites, Accessibility

B.C. Forest Discovery Centre

This museum educates visitors about British Columbia's large and historic logging industry.

Phone: (250) 715-1113

View Listing

Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries, Campgrounds & RV Parks, Accessibility

Merridale Cidery & Distillery

Merridale is a delicious destination in Cowichan an apple orchard, craft cider house, small batch distillery, and event venue. Join us for a cider...

Phone: (800) 998-9908

View Listing

Spas & Wellness, Hotels, Resorts & Wilderness Lodges

Sooke Harbour House Hotel & Resort

Sooke Harbour House Resort Hotel is located on Southern Vancouver Island overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Olympic Mountains, and has direct beach...

Phone: (250) 642-3421

View Listing

Parks & Wilderness Areas, Storm Watching, Campgrounds & RV Parks

Juan de Fuca Provincial Park

Phone: (250) 474-1336

View Listing

Indigenous Culture, Attractions, Sightseeing, Accessibility

Malahat SkyWalk

Malahat SkyWalk is opening July 2021 as the newest outdoor experience providing the ultimate natural high on Vancouver Island – located 35...

Phone: (833) 625-2428

View Listing

Wineries & Wine Tours, Farms & Markets

Tugwell Creek Honey Farm and Meadery

Tugwell Creek Honey Farm and Meadery was liscenced in 2003 as the first Meadery in Western Canada. At our oceanside honeyfarm we hand craft the...

Phone: (250) 642-1956

View Listing

Plan Your Adventure Now

Know Before You Go

Learn about key travel restrictions and how to travel safely in BC this season.

Travel Updates
CAMPER'S CODE

The Camper's Code has nine rules that are really easy to follow. When all campers follow them, good things happen.

Take the Pledge
Adventure Smart

Always check trail conditions before you head out, and no matter what outdoor activity you are planning, be prepared.

Plan Your Route
Plan Your Route

Check Drive BC for the latest information on road closures around the province.

Check Conditions
Travel Responsibly

Follow these tips to travel safely and responsibly in BC this spring.

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