Activities

In the Sooke Region, there's an abundance of activities to capture the imagination, with so much to experience right here on our doorstep. Check out the incredible marine creatures living in our surrounding waters. Stroll through one of the beautiful gardens that the Island is known for. Ride a bike, beachcomb, birdwatch. Visit a castle or a museum and take a look back at how things were in the past. Just ask your hosts: it is the mission of the Sooke Bed and Breakfast Association members to help you discover the many memorable, wallet-friendly ways to get out and experience the unique sights, sounds, tastes and adventures offered everyday in this super natural place.
Salt Water Fishing Really Is Fantastic Here ...
Locals anglers know that some of the best salt water fishing in the world can be found just outside Sooke Harbour in the Pacific waters of the Juan de Fuca Strait. For 12 months of the year, one or more species of salmon feed during their growth cycle or are part of the large spawning runs which Mother Nature sends along the Southern coast of Vancouver Island from Port Renfrew, past Sooke, to the Fraser and other rivers and inlets where the salmon finish their life cycle. Excellent bottom fishing is also available with catches of large halibut as well as ling cod and rock fish. The big ones are right out there: In May 2011, after one heck of an exciting fight in 200 feet of water off the Sooke Bluffs, a local fisherman hauled in a 74 inch long, 212 pound "hali"! The Sooke Region also produced the 194.4 pound halibut that won the 2011 and 15th Annual Just for the Halibut Derby, held in the ocean waters off Southern Vancouver Island. Tasty Dungeness crab also abound in Sooke Harbour. Many charter fishers are available at reasonable rates to help you enjoy this sport. They will provide tackle, bait and, for additional charges, freezing, smoking and shipment of your catch.
Fresh Water Fishing in Our Pristine Rivers and Lakes
Exceptional fresh water fishing in Sooke and the surrounding area is also available to discerning fishers. With or without a professional guide, you can enjoy freshwater fly-fishing and drift fishing for salmon, cutthroat trout, steelhead, rainbow and brown trout on regional rivers, such as the Cowichan and Sooke Rivers. Fall, when the salmon are returning to spawn, is the season to join the fishermen in kayaks or canoes drifting along the Sooke River, rods ready, nets hanging over the side, waiting to hook the big one. Just north of the Sooke River Bridge fishermen cast along the river bank, while those with hip waders walk into waist-high water near the Sooke Flats, fly fishermen whiling away a pleasant few hours doing what they love to do. If you prefer lake fishing, the area has much to offer on nearby lakes where you will find cutthroat, rainbow and brown trout, as well as yellow perch and bass. With a four-wheel-drive vehicle you can find a challenge driving the logging roads to fish trout and steelhead in the Sooke Hills near Port Renfrew. If you desire back-country or float plane excursions to glacial lakes, professional guides can satisfy your wishes. Fresh water licences and organized guided excursions can be easily obtained in Sooke.
Whale Watching and Marine Eco Tours ... A Memorable Adventure!
A whale watching expedition in a rigid-hull inflatable zodiac is a memory-making adventure, exploring the Strait of Juan de Fuca and its dramatic coastline, on the lookout for killer whales, porpoises, harbour seals and stellar and California sea lions. Three resident pods of orcas (killer whales) regularly hunt their prey in the vicinity of Sooke Harbour. Despite their name, these whales are quite at ease with humans, sometimes coming right along side of the charter boat to "spy" or "eyeball" the passengers. Migrating grey whales and humpbacks are also seen in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, while birdwatchers are treated to sightings of bald eagles and many species of water birds. You will be toasty warm in your protective flotation suit provided by the tour operators.
Scuba Diving ... in the Crystal Clear Waters off Sooke
Southern Vancouver Island boasts some of the clearest waters found anywhere and scuba diving is an ever growing popular activity along the coastline of Sooke. Jacques Cousteau, diving in these waters in the 1970s, declared them to be among the richest and best dive sites in the world. Sea caves and craggy rock walls -- found at sites with strong currents like Race Rocks -- rival tropical reefs in the abundance and colour of underwater sea life. Divers can swim along through forests of bull kelp with schools of fish, octopus and wolf eels, and see giant green or red anemones, purple urchins, sponges and huge barnacles. A local must-dive site is Race Rocks Underwater Marine Park (www.racerocks.com), considered one of the most challenging and exhilarating dives anywhere. Experience the thrill of rich marine life here while visiting the shipwreck of the "Barnard Castle," or search for debris from over 100 ships that have been wrecked at Race Rocks. Arrangements for expert advice, rental equipment and/or guidance can be readily obtained from the Visitor Information Centre at the Sooke Region Museum.
Ocean Kayaking and Paddle Boarding is So Much Fun for Everyone!
All year around, ocean kayaking opens new water-line vistas and impressions of the Sooke Region coast, inlets and rivers. Try a Full Moon Kayak Tour in the Sooke Basin ... paddling softly in this tranquil setting in the moonlight is truly a memorable experience. Or get out on a sunny day in October, skimming along the Sooke River with the leaping spawning salmon amongst the falling red and golden leaves. Paddlers of all abilities will feel at ease in the all-season sheltered waters of the Sooke Harbour, but most will soon want to get out in the current and surf zone to explore the islets, vertical rock stacks and jagged headlands that line the nearby Pacific Ocean shoreline. Kayak the open coast just once -- rising and dropping with the breathing ocean, senses on high alert -- and you'll be hooked. It's possible to paddle the entire 60 km ocean route from Sooke to Port Renfrew in a lengthy summer day, when the mighty Pacific Ocean can be as well behaved as a sleeping giant. French Beach and Jordan River also offer drive up launch sites for kayaks and ocean canoes. Standup paddle boarding (think of long, wide stable boards with three fins) is new and fun for all skill levels in the calm waters of Sooke Harbour.
Surfing is Truly Challenging in "Cold Water Classic" Waters
Some of the world's best winter surfing is found in the neighbouring Jordan River area. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is wide open to the breakers crashing in directly from the Pacific Ocean. Stormy weather and high tides can combine to cause immense waves to challenge and delight surfers. Another favourite spot to watch or meet local surfers is Sombrio Beach.
Windsurfing and Parasailing
One of the best high wind windsurfing and parasailing locations on Vancouver Island is at Gordon's Beach, 11 km west of Sooke, just before Tugwell Creek. Another terrific windsurfing site is at Jordan River (30 minutes) west of Sooke. Winds are generally lighter than at Gordon's Beach but if the surf is up you can experience true surf sailing with great pealing waves.
Boating & Sailing in the Sooke Region
Boating and sailing opportunities abound in Sooke and its environs. Launching ramps for private boats are available at the local marinas and at some beaches. Sailing adventures in the Sooke Basin and out in the strait will satisfy all levels of seamanship, from novices taking lessons from local instructors to real "salts" who will enjoy the winds, currents and tides just outside the harbour in the open Pacific Ocean. Picnicking, wildlife and birdwatching, gunkholing, rowing, sailing and just "messing around in boats" in Sooke Harbour is a treat for all ages all year around!
Golf, Tennis, Swimming, Skating on Ice and Boarding at Sooke's Sk8 Park
Demamiel Creek is our local 9 hole, par 3 course, a great venue for a game with the family. Bent grass, manicured greens, bunkers and water hazards are all featured at DeMamiel Creek. Club and cart rentals are available. Southern Vancouver Island's several courses which are a short drive from Sooke offer a variety of challenges for the first-time golfer, the weekend golfer or the budding pro. Bear Mountain Golf Course, located 30 minutes from Sooke, was designed by Jack Nicklaus and his son Steve. Set in the foothills of Mount Finlayson, Bear Mountain strikes the perfect balance between playability and a truly challenging year-round golf experience for all skill levels. At Olympic View Golf Club, located just 20 minutes from Sooke, the magnificence of the Olympic Mountains, the roar of waterfalls, harmony of eagles soaring and deer grazing, and the tranquility of twelve lakes will deliver an outstanding golf experience. Nearby Metchosin Golf Course is a friendly and affordable 9 hole public course with rolling greens perfect for all levels of players from duffers to lower handicaps. And yes, the backdrop to your game on these nearby courses will be rugged mountains, lush forest and ocean views and you may find yourself looking at everything except the greens. Now that is a challenge! Ask you host about booking tee times. SeaParc, our public swimming pool and arena leisure complex is located on Phillips Road just past the Museum and Info Centre. Swim and enjoy the whirlpool, sauna and kids wave pool anytime. Take a drop-in fitness class, or work out on the weights. Lace up your skates, or watch a hockey game in the winter ... Play lacrosse and floor hockey in the summer. Fees are reasonable and everyone is welcome at SeaParc. You may also want to keep up your fitness regime at one of Sooke's popular downtown commercial gyms. Sooke SK8 Park, located on Throup Road, is an all-ages unsupervised playground for skateboarding and rollerblading. Sooke Ball Park, and Sooke's two public tennis courts are also located on Throup Road.
Birdwatching
Information coming soon.
Biking, Hiking, Jogging, Walking the Galloping Goose Trail
Information coming soon. --------------------------------------------------------------------
See the World's Oldest and Biggest Trees
Nature in the rainforest is like an outdoor cathedral. Some of the oldest and most majestic living things on our planet are found near Port Renfrew in the forests of the Gordon River Valley and the upper Walbran Valley. Such trees as these inspire awe and reverence, and a sense of connection to nature and to past events.

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The Red Creek Fir, stands tall 15 kilometers east of Port Renfrew. The 1,000 year old tree is the largest standing Douglas Fir in the world. At almost 74 metres tall (242 ft.) and 13.3 metres (43.5 ft.) in girth, the fir has become a must-see destination for locals and for tourists alike. The San Juan Spruce is Canada's largest Sitka Spruce tree with a height of 62.5 m (205 ft.) and circumference of 11.7 m (38 ft.). The Carmanah Giant is taller at 95 m (312 ft.) and there is one wider, but the San Juan Spruce has the largest amount of wood. You can drive right to the tree in the San Juan Bridge Forestry Recreation Site. Visit Avatar Grove to see centuries-old hemlocks, red cedars, firs and a very strange looking evergreen that’s been dubbed Canada’s “gnarliest tree,” in a 10-hectare setting, about a 15-minute drive from Port Renfrew.

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Here in the lush coastal rainforest giant Western Red Cedars, Sitka Spruce and Douglas Fir jut out of the surrounding valley floors like spires from catherdrals. While alive these trees harbour a wide variety of plants, birds and animals, and when they fall, they also provide homes for everything from black bears to fungi. As standing behemoths or fallen giants, they are an integral part of a diverse and unique ecosystem. Ask your hosts about guided eco-tourism walks to see these ancient trees and their amazing habitats.
Victoria City, Castles, Gardens and Many Interesting Day Trips from Sooke
Make Sooke your home base, then head out and discover some of Southern Vancouver Island's treasures. You'll find there's many interesting and educational day trips just an hour or so away by car, bike or bus.

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Visit Victoria, the City of Gardens and Our Provincial Capital

Plan to spend a day or two exploring the City of Victoria, strolling around the vibrant harbour and historic downtown, shopping in unique boutiques along Government Street, Antique Row or Old Town and Market Square. Bus 61 Sooke will deliver you to the heart of the city in just one hour. Enjoy the cultural diversity: explore Craigdarroch Castle, or the oldest Chinatown in Canada. Visit the Royal British Columbia Museum, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, the Maritime Museum of British Columbia and some of the capital's super tourist attractions. Or travel by car along the Marine Scenic Drive through Beacon Hill Park and past gorgeous golf links with sparkling sea vistas. You'll marvel at Victoria's huge hanging floral baskets on lamp standards downtown, and remarkable lush gardens and boulevard trees in the city's historic neighbourhoods. Enjoy your day in the world famous City of Gardens ... then come home to Sooke for a beautiful sunset and a peaceful sleep in the countryside.

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A Perfect One-Day Drive on the Pacific Marine Circle Tour

The Pacific Marine Circle Tour, which includes West Coast Highway 14 from Victoria to Port Renfrew, is a popular and excellent way to explore the historic West Coast of southern Vancouver Island. Now fully paved, the 250 km round-trip route traces the wilderness coastline from Sooke to Port Renfrew, delving deep into some of the most productive forestland in Canada, continuing on through the mountains to Lake Cowichan and the verdant Cowichan Valley, and looping back down the Trans-Canada Highway via Duncan and the Malahat. There's much to see and do on this coast-to-coast tour, so plan to start off from Sooke early in the day. Beautiful wild beaches, ancient forests and mammoth trees beckon enroute to Port Renfrew. Swimming in Fairy Lake, Lizard Lake or Lake Cowichan ("kaatza" - the big lake, as it is known to the Coast Salish people - is over 30 km long), or "tubing" (floating downstream on a giant inner tube) on the Cowichan River, will thrill and refresh you on a hot summer's day. Along the route you can also enjoy restaurants, spectacular scenery, natural wonders and quaint shops in our unique coastal communities. Duncan, the "City of Totems," is home to a rich First Nations heritage. More than 80 totem poles displayed along the city's streets provide a stunning pictorial record of the Cowichan people's legends and family ancestry. Immerse yourself in the Cowichan Tribes way of life through their artifacts, cuisine, ceremonies and hands-on activities at The Quw'utsun Cultural Centre, situated in handsome cedar buildings along the riverfront. Guests are invited to try on a genuine Cowichan Sweater, an iconic West Coast knitted garment, treasured and handed down from generation to generation, and to admire original Coast Salish art on display in the Quamichan House Gallery. Meals with traditional ingredients such as salmon, venison, buffalo, and halibut are served with panache in the riverfront cafe, while a moving mulitmedia show on First Nations oral history will be a highlight of your visit to Quw'utsun. To the north on the Trans-Canada Highway, the charming village of Chemainus is best known for its many murals and sculptures, depicting colourful chapters from its history of mining and forestry and First Nations culture. Follow the footprints around town for a free, fun-for-the-whole-family tour of the murals - painted artworks covering whole buildings - in the the world's largest outdoor gallery. South of Duncan is Cowichan Bay, a lively seaside village on the east coast of Vancouver Island, full of unique shops built on stilts over the ocean, and a favourite spot to stop for ice cream. At the summit of Malahat Drive, stop to take in the sweeping views of Haro Strait, Victoria and the Saanich Inlet and Peninsula, all the way to San Juan Island in Washington State. Just north of Victoria, Exit 14 to Sooke will bring you back to Highway 14 and on to your accommodation. To make the most of this awesome adventure, download a map from www.pacificmarinecircleroute.com

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It's Always a "Very Good Year" for a Vancouver Island Wine Tour

Southern Vancouver Island is the warmest growing region in Canada. Surrounded by the ocean, its currents warm the land and create micro-climates, which winemakers now exploit for your tippling pleasure. This terroir is ideal to grow some of the world's best cool-climate grapes, and yields elegant wines reminiscent of northern Europe. Start at Tugwell Creek Meadery here in Sooke, to enjoy a truly unique taste of history. Continue on your day tour to the vineyards, orchards and tasting rooms of the Wine Islands Estate Vintners, meet the winemakers and savour some of Canada's best Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Ortega, Chardonnay or Gewurtzaminer. Don't forget to designate a driver, and get home safe. The perfect ending to this adventure is a prized West Coast sunset, and in Sooke, it's said to be truly magical. While catching sundown, you'll want to sip a glass of that wonderful Island wine you purchased today, and toast your choice of such an intriguing holiday location. For more information, go to www.islandwineries.ca

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A Whole Day of Fun for Historians, Naturalists and Ornithologists:

and everyone else! Visit nearby Colwood ... where you'll find a sublime garden surrounding a castle, an historic lighthouse and fort, and a bird sanctuary on a lagoon ... and you're sure to have a great day out exploring Canada's heritage in an extremely photogenic oceanside setting. Hatley Castle and Park, located just 20 minutes east of Sooke in Colwood, is one of Canada’s largest and most diverse National Historic Sites. (Accessible by car, Bus 61 Sooke, and the Galloping Goose Trail.) An award-winning Conde Nast Traveler destination, this authentic and beautifully preserved Edwardian estate is sprawled across 565 oceanfront acres. Rarely crowded, old growth forests and serpentine trails mingle with the estate's luxuriant gardens, among Greater Victoria's best. The jewel in the crown is a magnificent 1908 castle, built by former Premier of British Columbia and coal baron, James Dunsmuir. Hatley Castle is surrounded by heritage buildings that commemorate the Royal Roads Military College era, and which today house the classrooms of Royal Roads University. Hatley Gardens Tour: a one hour guided walking estate tour takes guests on a journey through the various gardens -- including one of the oldest and most stunning Japanese Gardens on the West Coast of North America. Take time to visit the castle museum or to hike the surrounding trails of Hatley Park National Historic Site. (www.royalroads.ca) Nearby, pituresque red and white Fisgard Lighthouse -- built by the British when Vancouver Island was not yet part of Canada -- is situated on Fisgard Island and is linked by a causeway to the adjacent Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site. Fisgard Lighthouse and its sister station Race Rocks Light, constructed in 1859-60, are the oldest lights on Canada's west coast. Visitors to the Fisgard lighthouse keeper's red brick residence will see exhibits dealing with shipwrecks, storms and lives saved and lost at sea, and a gripping video which evokes the loneliness and isolation of the l9th century keeper. Fort Rodd Hill was built to defend Victoria and the naval base at Esquimalt harbour. In a park-like setting of Garry oak and arbutus meadows and red cedar and Douglas fir forests, this well preserved coastal artillery site was in use from 1878 to 1956, as part of the larger defence strategy of the British Empire and Canada. Birds soar overhead today and many deer roam freely. During the summer months, the fort offers re-enactments and other historic events that can be enjoyed by the whole family. At the foot of Fort Rodd Hill is Esquimalt Lagoon, a large tidal lagoon separated from a long surf-swept and driftwood-strewn beach by Ocean Boulevard. Migrating birds and the watchers who follow them are attracted to the sanctuary of the lagoon in all seasons. Birders may be rewarded with a wide variety of both pelagic and meadow birds, including bald eagles, blue herons, harlequin and eider ducks, elegant trumpeter swans and many trilling songbirds. Wildlife at these sites where the rainforest meets the sea includes black-tailed deer, river otters, racoons, mink, harbour seals, and sealions. The shoreline fronting Ocean Boulevard attracts walkers, picnickers, sunbathers and boaters. The panoramic views from the beach are arresting: across the lagoon rise the stone towers of Hatley Castle, while across the strait Victoria's skyline and the snowy Olympic Mountains shimmer in the distance. A wide variety of ships pass by, from small pleasure boats and sailing vessels, to enormous cargo ships, and the proximity of the Royal Canadian Navy anchorage means that military craft of several nations are often seen at close range.

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Visit the Very Best of Our Beautiful Gardens ...

No vacation on Vancouver Island would be complete without a visit to Butchart Gardens, a very special place just one hour's drive from Sooke. "A truly unforgettable experience, an idyllic eden of beauty,” says one visitor from Britain. Benvenuto, Italian for "welcome," is the name the Butcharts used for their original estate, once a limestone quarry, and now 55 acres of wonderful floral display and a National Historic Site of Canada. The gardens are open all year, and elaborate lighting and decorations at Christmastime create a magical seasonal treat ... while in spring through fall there's nightly musical entertainment on an open air stage. Join throngs of visitors from all around the world on a Saturday night in the summer and be awed by an amazing sound and light show, complete with fireworks.