If you appreciate relaxing road trips with stunning views, driving the 180-mile loop around Vancouver Island known as the Pacific Marine Circle Route could be an awesome next adventure.
An easy way to start 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 sweeping views of the mountains on your float plane ride, then enjoy the sparkling waters of the Puget Sound and Salish Sea during the leg of the journey you take by boat.
Two stops along the coastal part of the route are especially well-suited to adventurous spirits.
This stop is only for the most serious of surfers, bro. In Jordan River, surfers brave the rugged Pacific Coast and its freezing waters to catch a wave or two. If you’re not up to the challenge, pull up alongside the coast to watch the pros go to work. The surf is best in winter, so you know these surfers are totally rad.
Originally a hotbed for fishing and forestry, Port Renfrew has in recent years blossomed into an eco-tourist’s paradise. As the starting point for the 75km West Coast Trail, Port Renfrew has lots of natural highlights.
One is Canada’s Gnarliest Tree, a Western Red Cedar located at the top of Avatar Grove that has an enormous burl protruding from its side. The uphill hike is well worth the sight of this singular tree.
Another natural highlight is the Botanical Beach area. Rich with tide pools and fascinating geography, this beach in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park is a must-see for nature enthusiasts and anyone with an interest in geology, biology or marine life.
Explore the tide pools to see hundreds of species of plants and animals that adapt to fluctuations in temperature and salinity as well as the presence and absence of predators and prey that travel with the tide. Commonly sighted species include sea stars, chitons, anemones, barnacles, snails and purple sea urchins. If you set your sights offshore, you might also see killer whales, grey whales and harbor seals feeding.
When you yourself are ready for feeding time, head to The Renfrew Pub for fresh salmon and other delicious local grub. Sip on a brew from Vancouver Island Brewing while you enjoy freshly made fare prepared from scratch. Live music, a pool table and several big-screen TVs make this a great place to kick back and relax after a long day in the wilderness.
With miles of trails to hike and miles of coast to admire, it’s no wonder that Port Renfrew attracts so many adventurers. Still, it’s only one of many stops you’ll find along the Pacific Marine Circle. To learn more and start planning your adventure, visit tourismvictoria.com/pacific-marine-circle-route.