Pacific Marine Circle Route

The route is a popular drive, taking you to Sooke, up the west coast to Port Renfrew, across the island past Lake Cowichan to Duncan and back to Victoria.

A tourist map of the route was our guide. How difficult could this drive be?

Vancouver Island really only has two or three roads and we headed out of the city on the Trans Canada Highway, towards Highway 14. Could we find it? No!

We turned around and headed back to the city, stopping at a gas station for directions and bought a map!

Retracing our steps back out of Victoria we stopped to admire the older cars in the Porsche dealership. It was almost 12 and we’d barely left Victoria on our 300 mile round trip.

Plans changed and Port Renfrew became our destination. We sailed through Sooke on the basis we could see the sights there on the way back!

Our first stop was Sandcut beach and we were back in Old Growth Rainforest territory, in the pouring rain, scrambling over tree roots crossing the path.

The beach is famous for the waterfall that hits the beach from a flat sandstone outcrop.

Suddenly the sun came out, we could see round the bay and the trip felt worthwhile

Time was running out, we needed to return a hire car and had a dinner reservation at 7pm.

Mystic Beach and Jackson River were by passed, despite the draw of watching paddle boarders and surfers.

It was gone 2pm and lunch was calling, we decided to stop at the next cafe en route and found nothing open until, an hour later, we stumbled across Tomi’s home style cooking at Port Renfrew.

We approached the log cabin with trepidation, the menu featured heavily on beer! Matt took one look at the menu and begrudgingly ordered tomato and feta with bacon and cheese, we followed suit, not quite sure what to expect.

It turned out to be one of the best meals of our trip – a big bowl of homemade soup with the most fantabulous toasted cheese sandwich ever.

Refreshed, we made it to Botany Bay and walked the 3km trail to Botanical Beach.

The Juan de Fuca National Park is Old Growth Rain Forest and signs warned us we were back in bear and cougar country.

This felt a lot scarier than when we’d been in the Rockies. The trail was very quiet, it was raining and you could feel the age of the forest around you……and it kept making strange noises.

We reached the beach and John announced his disappointment, he’d seen ‘nothing as impressive as Cornwall!’. He doesn’t like black sand either….. Kim thought she was the fussy one.

Kim was just plain scared, wishing she’d brought her bear bell! It had been bought back in Lake Louise (along with gloves deemed necessary for the bike ride)

There were signs of recent bear activity, luckily we were walking too quickly to treat you to a picture of purple bear poop.

There was a brief stop so see the bonsai Sitka Spruce, caused by the harsh weather conditions.

More research is needed because we’re convinced Canadian kilometres are longer than ours. It felt like we’d walked a lot further than 3k and we only had two hours to get back to Victoria. Less than 70 miles but so slooow. The road started life as an old logging trail and still feels like it.

Matt was thrown from a speeding car, we handed our little Hyundai back and raced to the restaurant, Miraculously only 10 minutes late for our reservation at Il Covo.

Lovely meal followed, it was a good way to end our trip and we’d recommend it should you find yourselves here.