Victoria boasts temperate climates that allow for outdoor experiences nearly 365-days a year.Alongside the perfect combination of mountains, forests, oceans, lakes and beaches, it’s a safe bet that Victoria is a mecca of outdoor activities. It’s hard to not take advantage of it; the city makes it so easy. No matter your pace, skill level or interests, there’s bound to be the ideal outdoor activity waiting for you in Victoria. Check out some of the top selections below.
Kayaking or SUP Boarding
Seeing Victoria from the water gives a unique vantage point of the beautiful, heritage cityscape that makes up the downtown core. Plenty of kayak rental companies are scattered around various locations including the Inner Harbour and Fisherman’s Wharf. For those seeking a bit more adventure, tours go out to the Discovery and Gulf Islands and in around Victoria’s different waterways.
If you like to test out your balance or find the idea of sitting on your butt all day a little daunting, SUP Boarding might just be the activity for you! A unique sport that has been slowly incorporated into the West Coast, it can be a challenging and extremely fun way to take to the seas. There are even companies that will deliver boards to your location.
Regardless of which suits your pace, there’s nothing more satisfying than that slight shoulder ache of a day well spent paddling around the waters of Victoria.
Whale Watching or Fishing
Victoria is quite famous for two ocean-based activities, Whale Watching and Saltwater Fishing. If you want to get out on the water with a little bit of motorized power, either is an excellent choice.
Whales can be seen nearly any time of year in Victoria. Pods of Transient Orcas hangout pretty much 365-days of the year, while Minke, Gray and Humpback Whales can also be spotted depending on the season. Aside from whales, most tours also spot Seals, Sea Lions, Porpoises and a multitude of marine birds. Cutting through the Pacific waves in search of a whale tail or two makes for an exhilarating day out on the water.
If you’d rather have something to show off at the end of the day other than photographs, try your hand at catching dinner for a day. Seafood is a major staple for this west coast capital of British Columbia, and for a good reason. Salmon is a priority, but you can often haul up Lingcod and Halibut as well.
Landlubbers can rejoice at the option of keeping both feet on dry land while still basking in the sound of the crashing waves of the sea. Due to its coastal location, Victoria has a number of beaches. Pat on some sunscreen, grab a picnic, some towels and the umbrella, and head out for a day ocean-side. Many of the beaches have nearby parks for a shady stroll to break up the afternoon, as well as playgrounds. Some of the local favourites are Willows Beach, Cadboro Bay and Gonzales Bay.
Ps. If freshwater is more your style, check out Thetis Lake Regional Park and Elk/Beaver Lake Park – there are sandy lakeside beaches and crisp, fresh water to swim in.
The landmass that makes up Vancouver Island is riddled with all types of different terrain. Within and just outside of Victoria itself are plenty of hills, forests and trails that allow for some superb hiking. Visit Witty’s Lagoon for easygoing paths that still payoff with a waterfall and beach reward. Inside the boundary of the city are Mount Doug and Mount Tolmie, which both give you the eagle-eye overview of the city, while surrounding you with delightful greenery and a modest incline (although you can always just drive to the top parking lot…). Goldstream Provincial Park is a convenientfavouritelocated a mere 20-minute drive North of the city. There you can explore the trestle bridge and take in the stunning Niagara Falls, or continue on your way to more heady hikes like Mt. Finlayson. There’s also GowllandTod nearby, which shows off with some stunning views of Finlayson Arm, the Gowlland Range, Juan de Fuca Strait and the Olympic Mountain Range.
For something a little slower paced than a hike, there are plenty of perfect destinations right in Victoria for a casual stroll. Choose between urban or a little more rural to set the scene and you’ll be on your way. Some of the best urban sites to explore on foot include the Inner Harbour and Fisherman’s Wharf, as well as Ogden Point for a visit to the lighthouse and its extending Dallas Road Walkway. If grass and path is more your style, check out Beacon Hill Park – there are 81 hectares of space to delve into, with more than a few hidden surprises to stumble upon. If you find yourself checking out the quaint Sidney-by-the-Sea, the sculpture and historical walk along the waterfront is an easy-going and easy-on-the-eyes delight.
Those who prefer two wheels to two feet are in luck: Victoria is not only the capital city of British Columbia, but is also the biking capital of Canada. There are hundreds of kilometers of bike lanes, bike routes and bike paths that wind their way in, throughout and around the city. The most extensive and scenic are the Lochside and infamous Galloping Goose Trails, which connect the region all the way from Sidney to Sooke. The trails will take you through all types of terrain, from scenic, coastal pathways, to trestle bridges and stretches of forest. There are plenty of Mountain Biking trails, as well as a BMX Track for those who seek a bit more adrenaline. Food and brewery bike tours are also available for an immersive exploration of the city.
Camping, of course, is the ultimate outdoor adventure. Luckily, there are plenty of areas surrounding Victoria for those who seek to spend both day and night away from the commodities of home. The solitude of the forest waits at Goldstream Provincial Park Campground, where you can combine your campout with day hikes in and out of the park. Another favourite option is the Sidney Spit campground, which is accessible via a short boat ride from the Sidney-by-the-Sea harbour. From there you’ll be immersed in a coastal and forest environment within a unique, provincial park. Of course, those are only two of the closest options. Don’t be afraid to venture a little bit farther to hunt down the park and campground that appeals to you most – there are plenty to be found nearby the city.
These activities are just the tip of the iceberg. Honorable mentions include diving, visiting Victoria’s numerous gardens, canoeing in the lakes and nearly anything else outdoorsy you could imagine. After all, there’s a reason Victoria’s MEC store thrives.