Outdoor explorations for adventure-lovers

Outdoor explorations for adventure-lovers

Southern Vancouver Island is build for adventurers

Welcome to the wild West Coast, where ocean meets mountains, forests were made for exploring, and touring is just as often done by kayak or bike.

For nature enthusiasts, a whale-watching tour is a must during a Victoria vacation.

While West Coast waters and shorelines are teaming with fascinating creatures, the true stars of a coastal wildlife adventure are the whales.

Several resident pods of orcas make their home in Victoria-area waters, not to mention numerous minke and humpback whales. Those embarking on this ultimate West Coast experience may also get to share in the excitement of seeing several calves recently born to residents pods.

In addition to the possibility of snapping some pretty memorable photos, there’s lots to learn from the on-board naturalists working with Victoria’s top whale watching companies.

From leaning about the habits and characteristics of these majestic creatures to the latest conservation efforts, learning is all part of the experience.

In addition to orcas, humpback whales are also being seen in increasing numbers. Because of their migratory nature, the best time to view humpbacks is from July to February, however sightings have been reported throughout the year.

Naturalists also share a wealth of knowledge about the many other species often spotted on a given trip.

Choose from two types of whale watching adventures, the speedy, open-air thrill of a Zodiac or the more relaxed approach of a cruiser. Both visit the same areas and travel at the same speed, but offer a different experience.

From one water adventure to another, pick up a paddle and see the city from an entirely new perspective. The varied ocean coastline and numerous lakes mean paddling is one the top pastimes for locals. Fortunately for visitors, rentals and tours are also easy to arrange in many locations around the Capital Region, from downtown’s Inner Harbour to Oak Bay and the far reaches of Sidney and Sooke.

The iconic Inner Harbour is ideal for a morning paddle, or venture to the Upper Harbour and the park-lined Gorge Waterway. Other popular paddling locations include the inlets and bays of Oak Bay and Saanich. From the Saanich Peninsula community of Brentwood Bay, explore Tod Inlet, a picturesque stretch of water between the Peninsula and the Malahat. Fresh-water paddles include Elk and Beaver Lakes in Saanich and in the West Shore community of View Royal, Thetis Lake. Both are about 15 minutes from downtown Victoria.

From open water to solid ground, two-wheel touring is a fantastic way to explore one of Canada’s most bike-friendly cities.

A regional treasure, the Galloping Goose and Lochside trail network will take you from the urban core to the south Island’s pastoral countryside and wild West Coast, 85 kilometres of accessible, picturesque trail along a former railway line – ideal for a scenic tour or a family excursion. The Galloping Goose, a 55k trail from Victoria to Sooke, is the first section of the Trans-Canada Trail. The Goose intersects with the Lochside Trail in Saanich, which ventures out through the rolling farmlands of the Saanich Peninsula.

Cyclists wanting to stick to the city can follow the Scenic Marine Drive, which starts downtown and winds along the picturesque waterfront of Fairfield, Oak Bay and Saanich. Head back to town, or connect with the Lochside Trail to continue out the Saanich Peninsula.

If trails are more your speed, mountain bike enthusiasts will find a variety of opportunities in the region, including mountain bike trails and a jump park at Bear Mountain Resort, and Hartland, on the Saanich Peninsula, with trail options for all levels of riders. For more information – and more locations – visit the South Island Mountain Bike Society online at simbs.com or check in with the Visitor Centre.

Other options for the adventure enthusiast? Take to the trees with AdrenaLine Zipline Adventures in Sooke, or checkout WildPlay, in the West Shore, about 20 minutes from downtown, where the Monkido Aerial Adventure has options for all ages.

Discover more at westcoasttraveller.com.

AdventureBritish ColumbiaCanadaFamily activitiesStaycation secretsThings to doTourismVictoria

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

SD62 bus driver Kerry Zado said it’s common to see drivers lose their patience and pass by his bus while he’s picking up students during the morning commute. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
School bus driver laments motorists who pass while red lights are flashing

All buses in Sooke School District outfitted with stop sign cameras

Nearly 2000 BC Hydro customers in East Sooke lost power around 1 p.m. on Jan. 20. (BC Hydro)
UPDATE: Power restored to nearly 2000 East Sooke residents after blasting

Blasting caused power pole to move and faulted the circuit Wednesday

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

Victoria police are seeking home surveillance video and witnesses following a prowling incident in Esquimalt Jan. 20. (Black Press Media file photo)
Esquimalt prowler removes air conditioner, peers into person’s home

VicPD is seeking video footage, witnesses following Jan. 20 incident

The Victoria Fire Department extinguished a 15 foot tent fire in the 500-block of Ellice Street Jan. 19. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police investigating after 15-foot flames engulf tent

Flames damage nearby business in 500-block of Ellice Street

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Nanaimo RCMP are seeking the public’s help after a man allegedly assaulted a clerk at James General Store on Victoria Road on Jan. 18. (Submitted photo)
Suspect screams at customer then assaults store clerk in Nanaimo

RCMP asking for information about Jan. 18 incident at James General Store

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Seven streets in downtown Duncan, including Station Street, will soon have new native names added to their signage. (Submitted graphic)
New Duncan street signs will be in English and Hul’q’umi’num

Seven streets to get additional names in First Nations language

Most Read