Today was a perfect day to drive the Pacific Marine Circle Route: sunshine, breeze and low tide at 10:30 am. This is a loop that starts in Duncan, follows the highway south towards Victoria, and then follows Hwy 14 along the south coast of Vancouver Island, hugging the Juan de Fuca Strait.  It continues to Port Renfrew and back toward Lake Cowichan and back to Duncan.  It’s a winding, hilly road for most part but a beautiful drive. We did this to explore beaches along the coastline. Nicky gave me a book on all the details and places to stop. One day does not do it justice because there is too much to see.  We chose 3 beaches to explore and enjoy the drive. These beaches are better to explore at low tide for the tidal pools and being able to walk further on the beach so having low tide in late morning allowed us to get there and enjoy several beaches.

Our first stop was Otter Point, which we would never have found without the book. Parking is literally a pull off by the side of the road. The view is from high on a cliff. We didn’t venture down on slippery rocks and wet grasses but instead enjoyed the gentle breeze and few waves lapping on the shore far below.

Our second stop was Sandcutter Beach. It was a short walk from the parking lot through deep forest of very tall trees. The forest seems extra lush and large on this coast with lots of interesting tree shapes.

The beach was a combination of pebbles and sand. We realized that these shapes cut by the draining water were very temporal. They would disappear by the next high tide.

The book recommended that we walk along the beach to a waterfall where a stream fell over the rock ledge. So we ventured forth.

We found the waterfall and it was a treat. They were not large, but there were two of them and very pretty, cascading over the rock ledge.

Our third, and favourite, stop was Sombrio Beach. 

This beach is a favourite for surfers. They are known to remove the sign at the highway to reduce the number of people that will see it.  It’s a steepish, gravel, potholed road for about 1.5 km down to the beach. It’s an official provincial park that allows backcountry camping and there were several tents pitched on the beach by the surfers waiting for the right waves.  It was definitely windier at this beach and there were a few surfers out. But, as usual, we saw them sitting waiting for the right wave rather than riding the waves.

The beach here was a cobblestone beach which is pretty because the rounded stones are lovely to look at but harder to walk on.   

The book told us of “Hidden Falls” so we struck out down the beach walking on a combination of hard sand, since tide was still out a bit, and the cobblestones. 

There were some great rock formations in the water and the waves crashing on them was quite mesmerizing.

We found the trail to the falls off the beach.  We had to walk up a stream bed (thank goodness for Gortex shoes!) towards a tall cave formed with sculpted walls, with a tall waterfall cascading at the back.  It was quite magical experience to walk there and enjoy the sound of the falls and the cathedral feeling of the cave.


After we returned to the beach, we had lunch watching the waves crash on the rocks and breaking on the beach. 

On the way back we did some tidal pooling, watching the kelp swaying in and out with the wave action, the small critters, snails, and sea vegetation in the pools.

it was a great day to experience three very different beaches.  There were several that we did not have time for so we will save that for another day.


On the way home we found this beautiful cascading river, in a canyon under one of the many bridges we had to cross. It had my favourite color water so I had to take a picture!

3 thoughts on “Beach-hopping

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