Pacific Marine Circle Route
Some of the attractions between Jordan River and Port Renfrew include French Beach, China and Mystic Beaches, and surf-city Sombrio Beach. You definitely want to schedule a stop at one of these beach havens into your plans. Once in Port Renfrew, there are a number of great restaurants and cafes where you can grab a bite to eat, and of course if you have the time, Botanical Beach is a must-see.
From here, the Pacific Marine Circle Route veers north along a now completely paved active logging road, where you’ll come across Fairy and Lizard Lakes, as well as a lush coastal rain forest. About 25 km north-east of Port Renfrew, situated along the San Juan River just a short distance from the road and over a wooden footbridge, rests the giant Harris Creek Spruce Tree. This incredible Red Creek Fir stands 73.8 metres high and is 12.5 metres in circumference. But don’t rely on road signs to point it out (there are none), instead keep an eye on your odometer to help you pinpoint the location – it’s well worth the stop!
You’ll then head east towards Lake Cowichan, which will eventually take you to Highway 1. In Lake Cowichan a popular pastime is renting an inner tube and floating down the Cowichan River. On a hot day, you can’t miss the colourful display of tubes and rafts bobbing in the water. From here you can choose to stay on Hwy 1, traveling through Duncan and then onwards to Victoria. Or, you can travel on the last leg of the Pacific Marine Circle Route, which takes you through Cowichan Bay – a really neat little sea-side town with lots of things to see and do…and eat.
The Pacific Marine Circle Route makes for a great day-trip from just about everywhere on the southern tip of Vancouver Island (Greater Victoria Region, Sooke, Shirley, Jordan River, Port Renfrew, Duncan, Cowichan Bay). But the route makes an even better 2 to 4 day getaway, giving you much more time at each of the amazing and breathtaking stops of interest.
Note of caution: there are no gas stations along the logging road portion of the route. Be sure to fill up in Sooke, Port Renfrew (at the marina AND only in the summer months) or in Lake Cowichan before heading out.