6 beaches near Victoria: Where to go for sun, sand, and surf

Published by: BouncePosted Updated
Beaches near Victoria, BC

Although it's the capital of British Columbia, Victoria isn't the biggest city in this Western Canadian province. That honor goes to Vancouver on the mainland. However, Victoria is a great place for a vacation, with its charming historic downtown, its laid-back island vibe, and its incredible access to beautiful natural surroundings. Vancouver Island is a gorgeous place to explore, full of towering mountains, dense forests, and incredible ocean views. And Victoria, with its coastal location on the Juan de Fuca Strait, makes a perfect base for exploring what this large island has to offer.

In fact, you don't need to go far from downtown Victoria to encounter some great beaches. There are some excellent beaches in Victoria, BC, itself, and if you're willing to travel just a little further, you'll find even more incredible locations to visit. Whether you're looking for a beautiful sandy beach or a rocky cove offering incredible views of the mainland and the Olympic Mountains, you won't be short of beautiful beaches in Victoria, BC. And whether you arrive in the city via ferry from downtown Vancouver or travel from Washington State, you'll be able to enjoy incredible beaches from the moment you arrive.

Traveling is always easier when you don't carry more than you need to. That's why it's always a good idea to drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Victoria before heading out to explore. No matter what kind of beach you're looking for, you'll have a much better time if you're not carrying more than you need to.

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Island View Beach Regional Park

Island View Beach Regional Park

One of the best things about Victoria, and BC in general, is that no matter where you are, it's not hard to get away from it all and find patches of unspoiled wilderness, even on the edge of the city. Island View Beach is a long sandy beach that is perfect for a long walk or enjoying the incredible scenery and the views of BC's Gulf Islands and the US San Juan Islands, just a short ferry ride away from Seattle.

Travel distance from Victoria

Twenty km north of Victoria, Island View Beach Regional Park can be reached with a drive of around 20 minutes. If you're feeling energetic, you can also bike here in an hour or so.

Activity recommendations

Camping: If you want to extend your stay at this beautiful beach - and why wouldn't you? - you can stay a night or two in the beachfront campground here. Twenty-four tent sites and 18 RV spots quickly fill up, so if you want to enjoy a night or two listening to the ocean waves crashing on this beautiful beach, it's a good idea to plan ahead.

Hiking: With its beautiful views and hardpacked sand, the beach itself is a great place for a long walk. Plus, the small regional park it occupies also has several walking trails, so you can enjoy more of this natural environment. You'll also find picnic tables where you can take a break and enjoy an outdoor meal, so bring your hiking boots to Island View Beach Regional Park to make the most out of your time here.

The ocean beaches of Vancouver Island are popular places to swim in the summer but bear in mind that this water never gets really warm. After all, this is an inlet of the Pacific Ocean, so even in the height of summer, water temperatures never get much above 12 or 13°C. That makes it refreshing to cool off on a hot day, but hardly the warm waters of the Caribbean.

That means this beach is a great place to visit during the summer, but the beautiful scenery is just as gorgeous throughout the year. If you're not planning on swimming, the mild winters of Vancouver Island make this a great place to visit at any time.

Rocky beaches near Victoria, BC

Cordova Bay Beach

The small community of Cordova Bay offers tons of laid-back coastal charm, and it's also home to one of the best beaches in the greater Victoria area. Just a short drive from the city itself, this is a truly beautiful spot where you can enjoy the best of coastal BC.

Travel distance from Victoria

At just 12 km from downtown Victoria, you can reach this pretty beach with a drive of about 15 minutes. You can also get here by bus, but you will have to change between a couple of different routes, so expect that journey to take closer to an hour.

Activity recommendations

Swimming: If you can handle the cold water, this gently sloping beach is a good place for a refreshing dip in the height of summer. You probably won't want to spend too long in the cold ocean, but it is a great way to cool off before stretching out in the sun to warm up again. There isn't much in the way of amenities here, so you won't find showers or changing rooms. After all, that would spoil the beautiful natural environment of Cordova Bay Beach.

The Beach House: A perennially popular destination for weddings and other events, this luxurious restaurant sits right on the beach itself and offers incredible views out over the water. Linger over dinner or a few cocktails on the outdoor patio on a summer day and breathe in the tranquility of this beautiful spot. It's a million-dollar view, and the houses behind the beach go for much more than that. But Cordova Bay Beach is public property and remains free to access, so you can enjoy it for yourself at any time of year.

Cordova Bay Beach, like most of the beaches in Victoria, BC, has cold water that makes it only suitable for swimming in the peak of summer. However, the beautiful scenery, not to mention the great restaurant here, makes this a good destination to visit during any season.

Hiking near beaches in Victoria

Gonzales Beach

If you're looking for sandy beaches along the generally rocky coastline of Vancouver Island, you're in luck. Gonzales Beach, situated in a largely residential neighborhood on the outskirts of Victoria, is a small but beautiful place to spend some time, and you'll quickly see why it's so popular with locals.

Travel distance from Victoria

This suburban beach couldn't be much closer to downtown Victoria. It's just five km from the heart of the city, making this one of the easiest beaches in Victoria to reach by car, public transport, or by bike. If you don't mind a long walk, you can even reach one of the best sandy beaches in the area from the city on foot, though it will take about an hour to get to Gonzales Beach from Victoria this way.

Activity recommendations

Kayaking and standup paddle boarding: Just about all the beaches in Victoria are great to explore from the water, but Gonzales Beach is definitely one of the best. Rent a kayak or paddleboard from a business in the city, then head out on the water, where you'll not only get incredible views of the Olympic Mountains and the Juan de Fuca Strait, but you'll also encounter wildlife like seals, jellyfish, and possibly even adorable sea otters. It's hard to believe this natural paradise is so close to downtown Victoria, but it is.

Gonzales Hill Regional Park: Gonzales Beach is virtually surrounded by beautiful parklands. This regional park climbs the hill behind the beach and offers incredible views out over the coastline and the wide sandy shore at the base of the hill. There's even an observatory that makes a fantastic place to watch the sunset over the amazing beaches of the area.

Willows Beach near Victoria

Willows Beach

Another great sandy beach in this part of British Columbia, Willows Beach is one of the best beaches to go for paddle or enjoy the sunshine in the height of summer. Located on the edge of the Oak Bay Islands Ecological Reserve, this unspoiled wilderness is one of the best Victoria beaches to enjoy incredible scenery along with a laid-back vibe and lots of fun.

Travel distance from Victoria

It's only a 10-minute drive from the city to visit this iconic Victoria beach. You can also get here by public transit, with bus route 11 dropping you off at Cadboro Bay Village, just a short walk from the sand dunes of the beach itself.

Activity recommendations

Swimming: This is one of the favorite sandy beaches of local residents, and it offers one of the best places to swim of any of the beaches in Victoria when the weather cooperates. The water at the edge of the sandy beach isn't exactly warm, but as it lies on the east side of the island facing the Gulf Islands and the mainland, the water is generally calm, so you'll find lots of people braving the cold to splash around in cool off in the summer.

Standup paddleboarding: The calm waters of this placid bay are another excellent place to explore on a paddleboard. This beach is served by a mobile SUP rental service, so you can rent a board and head out on the water for yourself. It's a fairly easy sport to pick up, so don't worry if you've never tried it before. The beautiful views in this region will soon calm your nerves as you explore the water from your board.

Uplands Park: At the northern end of Willows Beach, you'll find this beautiful park with its war memorial that makes it a great place to wander. There are tons of hiking trails to explore and picnic tables where you can take a break and enjoy the ocean views. With one of the best sandy beaches in Victoria at its doorstep, this park is the perfect environment for lovers of the outdoors.

Esquimalt Lagoon Beach

Esquimalt Lagoon Beach

The view from this incredible beach more or less sums up just what makes Victoria so special. Look in one direction, and you'll see the charming old buildings of Victoria. In the other, the snowcapped peaks of the Olympic Mountains remind you that the wilderness is never far away. The view alone is enough to make this one of the most popular beaches in the region. But there's also plenty to do here once you've admired the scenery.

Travel distance from Victoria

Around 15 km from the city, this beautiful beach can be reached by car in around 15 minutes or around 50 minutes on public transit.

Activity recommendations

Esquimalt Lagoon Migratory Bird Sanctuary: This saltwater lagoon and its surrounding wetlands are an important breeding and feeding ground for hundreds of species of migratory birds. Bring your binoculars or a telephoto lens, and you'll see a huge range of birds, from ducks and swans to herons and eagles. This unspoiled natural environment is a reminder that in Victoria, the wilderness is always close.

Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse NHS: Located on the northern end of the beach, this historic lighthouse now functions as a museum that explains the efforts made to protect shipping along this sometimes treacherous coastline.

Thetis Lake trails near Victoria

Thetis Lake

The ocean beaches of Victoria are certainly beautiful. However, the cold water of the ocean may put you off swimming, even during summer. Luckily, there is another option. The freshwater of Thetis Lake is the ideal place to take a dip.

Travel distance from Victoria

Just 10 km from the center of Victoria, you can reach this regional park with a drive of about 15 minutes.

Activity recommendations

Swimming: Canada's first nature sanctuary protects two different lakes. The Main Beach offers a sandy shoreline that slopes gently into the water, which is always calm and far warmer than the ocean. That makes this a popular place for swimming for families or for anyone who appreciates some warmth.

Hiking: This beautiful park also offers tons of walking trails to explore. Hike through the magnificent coastal rainforest and cool off with a plunge into the clear waters of the lake.

Conclusion

As well as providing beautiful scenery, the best beaches near Victoria offer great things to do if you're visiting the city on a budget. Plus, this list is only scratching the surface. If you're looking for incredible options for weekend trips from Victoria, you'll find tons of options on Vancouver Island, including the wild Pacific coastline of Tofino.

But whatever beach you decide to explore, don't forget to drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Victoria before you go. The lighter you travel, the easier it will be to have fun in the sun at these incredible beaches.

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