The 180 mile drive around Vancouver Island known as the Pacific Marine Circle Route is ideal for a road trip, and it’s perfectly suited to those who appreciate breathtaking vistas, slow food, great wine and a little bit of Pacific Northwest history.
A convenient way to get started is by booking a Victoria Sea and Sky Package from Kenmore Air and Clipper Vacations to get from Seattle to Victoria, then renting a car from there. The Sea and Sky Package is fun because you can enjoy the sparkling waters of the Puget Sound and Salish Sea on your boat ride, then take in sweeping views of the mountains and water on your float plane ride.
If you have time to spend a few days in Victoria, it’s well worth the stay. The city is home to the beautiful neo-baroque Parliament Buildings, The Royal British Columbia Museum and a Chinatown bustling with trendy shops. Once you’re ready to hit the road, more fun awaits! Read on for details on some of the journey highlights.
Victoria to Sooke
Victoria to Sooke is the first leg of the journey, and it’s full of breathtaking coastal views. Before you head out, do yourself a favor and visit Fol Epi Bakery in Victoria.
The owner and founder, who is active in the Slow Food movement, crafts breads with flour ground by stone on site and pastries with organic flour and sugar and local eggs. Everything is made from scratch and baked in a traditional wood oven. The results are beautiful, hearty and absolutely delicious.
These two historic sites are near one another. Fort Rodd Hill is a west coast artillery fortress that was active between 1985 and 1956. Visitors can tour underground tunnels and bunkers, see camouflaged searchlights and hear the stories of some of the individuals who served here.
While you’re in the neighborhood stop at nearby Fisgard Lighthouse, the first lighthouse on the west coast of Canada, to take in spectacular views of Juan de Fuca Strait and the Olympic Mountains.
This stately structure was featured in hit movies like X-men and Deadpool – you’ll probably recognize it as Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Enjoy its majesty and snap a picture à la Ryan Reynolds (warning: explicit language).
This one-of-a-kind inn features 28 rooms, each with a different name and theme. The rooms are filled with original artwork by artists from Vancouver Island and feature lovely views of the Olympic mountains and the ocean.
A strong connection to the land is part of what makes this place so special. Even the chef takes his inspiration from the landscape, incorporating local, seasonal and organic ingredients as well as wild and foraged foods. Locally sourced fish and home-grown herbs and edible blossoms round out a menu that’s as authentic and local as it is inventive and artful.
The above are only a few of the delightful destinations you’ll find around the Pacific Marine Circle Route, which also includes the wineries of the Cowichan Valley and other surprises we’ll detail in our next article. If you can, give yourself several days for the trip so you can take your time, explore and make the most of your adventure.
To learn more and start planning, visit tourismvictoria.com/pacific-marine-circle-route.