The assortment of beaches and parks in Victoria BC is pretty impressive. We literally have something for everyone, from ocean front world-renowned playgrounds to old growth forests to some of the best conditions for adventure water sports. And if you just want to relax with a book or watch boats sail past, we’ve got the perfect spot for that too.
Disclaimer: I receive a small commission from some of the links on this page.
Since moving to the west coast, my definition of what makes a great beach certainly has changed. I used to think it had to have fine golden sand that stretched for miles and could get so hot it would scald the bottoms of your feet. I still enjoy that kind of beach once in a while, but now I think the rugged coastline scattered with marine life, sea glass, driftwood and ocean tumbled rocks found at many beaches and parks in Victoria BC are the best. And we have plenty of those!
Another fabulous thing you just might find at our local parks and beaches is painted rocks! People are painting and hiding rocks all over Greater Victoria with one goal in mind - brighten someone's day. Follow the link above to find out more.
West Coast beaches are a beachcomber’s dream – you never know what will come in with the next tide. Which is one of the reasons that a trip to one of the local beaches must be on your list of things to do. So many things to explore!
When visiting, do remember to follow the leave no trace principles.
Learn more about outdoor ethics here.
There are many more beaches and parks in Victoria BC other than the ones that we feature here on our site. These are showcased for a reason – there is something special about these places that we think you are going to like. It might be a terrific playground for the kids, an awesome destination for adventure water sports, an off-leash zone for your fur friend or a relatively flat and accessible trail for people with limited mobility. Every one of them is worth getting out to explore!
With a bird sanctuary on one side of Ocean Boulevard and the mighty Pacific Ocean on the other, this area is one of my favourite beaches in the region. And I can't get enough of the amazing wood art sculptures that local artist Paul Lewis has been installing over the past few years. Read more about Esquimalt Lagoon here.
It’s no wonder Beacon Hill Park Victoria BC is popular with visitors and locals alike with so many things to do for people of all ages. The park consists of over 200 acres of natural beauty, landscaped gardens and adventure spaces awaiting for you, just steps from the downtown core.
There are two main vehicle entrances to the park – Arbutus Way off Southgate (closest to downtown) and Circle Drive off Douglas Street. The city continues to experiment with reducing traffic in the park, so if one of the entrances is closed to vehicular traffic, just drive around to the other.
The variety of activities for kids in this park is awesome. The enormous watering can is a unique addition to a traditional splash pad and the two large and recently upgraded playgrounds are a child’s paradise.
The one-hectare play area located at the eastern side of the park, across from the lawn bowling club, is known as the Cook Street Playground. It features a 25-metre long zipline, two net climbers, accessible swings, play structures and more. The play area is connected via a foot path to an outdoor fitness circuit, that are becoming more and more popular in public parks.
But one of the most beloved areas for people of all ages has got to be the petting zoo at Beacon Hill Children’s Farm and the most anticipated activity is the “running of the goats”. Each morning, shortly after opening for the day, the goats are let out of their overnight pens and run down the path towards the goat enclosure where they spend the day being adored. People of all ages are welcome inside the enclosure where they can pet and cuddle with the goats and maybe even be licked by a friendly little guy.
Note the petting zoo and water parks are open seasonally throughout the summer months.
You don’t have to bring kids to enjoy the amenities of the park which features:
The park also has the distinction of Mile “0” marking the western end (or the western beginning, depending on how you look at it) of the 8,000 km Trans-Canada Highway.
There are no food or beverage amenities on site but just walk across Douglas Street to the Beacon Drive-In for some of the best burgers and ice cream around.
Whether you enjoy the park for recreation, adventure or relaxation, Beacon Hill Park Victoria BC is an oasis in the city for all to enjoy.
There are parks on both sides of the Gorge Waterway and their names are similar, so it's easy to get confused. The Gorge Waterway Park is on the Saanich side of the Gorge and runs between Admirals and Tillicum. The Esquimalt Gorge Park is on the Esquimalt side of the Gorge and is accessed from Tillicum at the bridge. While both are beautiful, read more why I named the Saanich side one of the best places to walk.
This small park located at the corner of Douglas and Belleville Streets made the list for its rich history. Sometimes referred to as Totem Pole Park, Thunderbird Park was founded in 1941 when the museum erected poles from its collection outside on the property. Due to a deterioration of the original poles, a decision was made to begin a pole restoration project. The poles currently on display are replicas of the originals which were moved indoors to climate-controlled facilities.
Also located at Thunderbird Park is Wawadiťła which is a Northwest Coast-style house used for urban First Nations people practicing their cultures, as well as a place where non-First Nations people can learn about these living traditions.
Additionally, this park is home to Helmcken House which is one of the oldest houses in British Columbia, dating back to 1852, still on its original site.
Clover Point Park has long been known as one of the best spots for kiteboarding and windsurfing and is part of the Dallas Road Waterfront area. Read more here.
If you’re looking for a treasure trove of activities, West Shore Recreation Centre is the place to be in Greater Victoria. They boast as being the “largest single-site recreation centre in North America”. The list of things to do at this one location is so long, it is mind-boggling. Imagine this: golf, swimming, hiking trails, a library and a senior’s centre. And we’re just getting started!
I’m sure I missed something, but you get the point – the place is massive! And so much fun. There is something to do for every member of your family.
There are several reasons why this recreation centre has made my list of hidden gems and places you must go but the main reason is the walking trails. The trail is not completely flat but a nice little workout. I love my walking poles for hikes like this (heck I use them everywhere!) - they provide that little extra balance and support when going up and down hills. I highly recommend poles, I don't think I would have the confidence to explore as much of the city as I do without them.
You have three options when hiking the trails around the complex. The first is the Garry Oak Walkway - a fairly easy shaded 1 km loop with an elevation of up to 45 metres.
The second option is referred to as the inside loop and is a 2.4 km trail around the perimeter of the facility. This beautiful walk will take you around the golf course, behind the baseball diamonds – be sure to stop at the Rotary picnic shelter for a wonderful vantage point from which to view the property.
Then you’ll head into a shaded area nestled beside WildPlay (watch for zipliners overhead), past the BMX track, the velodrome and the Q Centre. From here the path dips down again then back up near the children’s playground. Follow that route if you still need a leg and butt workout or stay on higher ground and make your way towards the parking lot.
Options 3 is to combine the Garry Oak loop with the inside loop to complete the 3km full loop.
I love this trail for the diversity of scenery and a good balance of shady and sunny sections. It is also easy to find with good signage, has lots of parking and is well maintained.
Whether it is hiking like I enjoy or any number of the other activities located on the property, there is something for everyone. For directions, hours of operation and a full list of facilities and programs, visit West Shore Recreation.
We always knew that Cadboro Gyro Park was an extraordinary place. This 6-hectare oceanfront park is located just past Cadboro Bay village and is breathtaking in so many ways.
Locally known as Gyro Park or the “octopus park”, it has always been the perfect place to let the kids and their imagination run wild. In November 2018 the secret was let out when Fodor’s Travel named it #10 on its 11 Unique Playgrounds Around the World list. We’re very proud to have made the list and invite you to come experience it for yourself.
The play fixtures that helped the playground earn this prestigious title include giant cement sea creature sculptures. Children can slide down the tentacles of an octopus or climb all over the salmon and sea serpent known as Cadborosaurus. Legend has it that a sea serpent was sighted in the Bay back in the 1930s and has been immortalized as a play apparatus in the park since the 1950’s.
Recent upgrades to the park and structures mean thousands more children will enjoy the area for years to come. Combine these wonderful and unique play pieces with a zipline, an accessible ship, shipwreck and swings and you better plan on a long visit because the kids aren’t going to want to leave.
Cadboro Gyro Park is more than just a playground – there are some terrific amenities for all members of the family. If you appreciate a sandy log-strewn beach with unforgettable ocean and mountain views then you’re really going to enjoy your visit to Cadboro Gyro Park. And the perfect complement to a beachside playground is a picnic lunch. I love my picnic backpack for days like this. The one I got is no longer available but it is very similar to this one - there's an insulated section, dishes and cutlery and a picnic blanket. So handy!
The park features several picnic areas that can be reserved through Saanich’s park permit system or used on a first-come basis. You will be asked to relocate if you are using a table that has been reserved though. What I like about the reservation system is when you are planning a large family reunion, team party or corporate event, you can be assured that you will have enough seating for your entire group.
Other unique features of this beautiful park are outdoor tennis courts, a boat launch for non-motorized craft and a seasonal wheelchair accessible beach ramp.
Your furry friends are welcome in the park and on the beach between Sept 1 and April 30 and before 9 am between May 1 and August 31 and always on a leash within 10 metres of the playground.
If you are travelling from a distance to this park, you’re going to appreciate plenty of free parking, washroom facilities and a water bottle fill up station.
Cadboro Gyro Park is a destination park for the whole family. Enjoy your visit to one of the world's most unique playgrounds.
With its long list of amenities, Willows Beach is a favourite spot for locals and visitors alike. One of the best things about this beach is the shallow, protected water that makes it an ideal spot for swimming, paddling and playing in the sand.
Willows Beach is located just off Beach Drive in Oak Bay on the eastern side of the island, about 15 minutes from downtown. For many years, directions to the beach included the well-known landmark affectionately known as the “tulip house” that sits kitty-corner to Willows Park at Dalhousie Street.
The gardens were established 30 years ago and home to more than 12,000 tulips and over a dozen varieties of begonia.
The beach is long and wide with a gentle breeze, providing ample opportunity to safely stroll along the waterfront and enjoy the spectacular views. If you walk for approximately 1.5 km in the direction away from the marina, and you’ll soon discover Cattle Point with its own supernatural beauty.
Willows Beach is a great suburban beach with a hip vibe. It is home to the Oak Bay Tea Party held annually in early June and live entertainment throughout the summer. Check the Oak Bay calendar for details.
Willows park in Victoria BC is the ideal ocean playground to launch a paddleboard, splash in the water, walk the esplanade, enjoy a picnic lunch or kick back and read a book. Or maybe you just want to enjoy the incredible views, which honestly, they alone are worth a visit to this neighbourhood gem.
Note: Skateboards and bicycles (or any wheeled apparatus with the exception of personal assistance devices such as wheelchairs) are not allowed on the grass or any of the paved pathways in the park.
Leashed dogs are allowed at all times on the grass area and pathways. Dogs (even leashed dogs) are not allowed anywhere on the beach area during the busy spring and summer period (May 1 to September 1). During fall and winter months (October 1 and April 30), dogs are welcome on the beach with no leash required.
Imagine a place where you can see snow-capped mountains in the distance, international ships passing by, sailboats sprinkled across the horizon, and a variety of marine life bobbing and breaching in the sea. This is what you’ll discover at Willows Beach - the mighty Pacific Ocean, ready to rejuvenate your soul.
Thetis Lake is one of the most popular parks in Victoria BC in any season. In addition to terrific swimming and paddling in the summer, the network of trails makes it an ideal hiking location any time. Find out why I named it one of 5 good places to walk in Victoria
Located off Rocky Point Road in Metchosin, Matheson Lake is a popular spot for swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding in summer months and for hiking year round. The hike around the lake is just under 4 km with an elevation of 40m. There are several "up and down" sections and for less experienced hikers, you may sometimes feel like they never end! The trail is listed as intermediate and the complete loop will take 1.5 to 2 hours.
Located across from Starlight Stadium in Langford, this small lake is bustling with activity in the summer. It is popular for swimming, boating and boasts a boat launch on the western shore as well as boardwalks and shore access for fishing. The popular 4.5 kilometer out and back Ed Nixon walking trail runs along the bank of the lake.
Note: Dogs are prohibited on Langford beaches from June 15 – September 15.
Glen Lake is a small neighbourhood gem that is easy to miss if you are unfamiliar with the area. It is located off Glen Lake Road across from Belmont High School and is surrounded by the local neighbourhood so there is no real vantage point to see it from a distance.
The park boasts several amenities including a nice swimming beach, accessible picnic tables, a large green space, a playground and spray park, public washroom and outdoor shower. It is also an idyllic location for boating and fishing.
For an easy walk under the canopy of trees, Francis King Regional Park is an ideal location for a stroll, especially on warm summer days. Find out why I named it one of 5 good places to walk in Victoria
With a flat chipped trail around an open grassy off-leash park, an updated children's playground and pump bike track, it's easy to see why I named it one of 5 good places to walk in Victoria
Elk & Beaver Lakes are two of the most popular parks in Victoria BC, along with Thetis Lake.
The interesting thing about these lakes is that many people say they are going to Elk Lake but really end up parking and swimming at Beaver Lake.
Both are spectacular destinations for summer fun but what seems to be even more popular is the hiking trail that surrounds the lakes. It is exactly 10km which is an ideal length for a good heart-pumping hike and for training purposes. The trail is used for walkers and joggers alike and a portion is also used for equestrian purposes.
Located on the Saanich Peninsula, Mount Douglas Park is as diverse as they get from a simple stroll on the beach to a difficult-rated trail up the side of a mountain. You can also drive the majority of the way up Mount Doug and then hike to the summit to enjoy 360 degree views. It is one of my favourite parks in Victoria BC to take visitors.
Mount Tolmie is one of the best parks in Victoria BC to take people with mobility concerns who can't hike to the summit of Mount Doug, but still want to enjoy magnificent views of the city, ocean and mountains. It is also a terrific spot to watch downtown fireworks! There are a variety of trails around Mount Tolmie but there are few trees or protection from the elements and I personally find it rather barren. This is probably the only park where my preference is to sit in my vehicle and enjoy the views.
Goldstream Provincial Park has been on my list of favourite places since I first visited nearly 30 years ago. It simply never disappoints. And my love for the park seems to have worn off on my son because he and his friends visit even more often than I do!
The park straddles the Trans-Canada Highway with the campground facilities on one side and the day use area and Freeman King Visitor Center on the other. Visitors are cautioned not to cross the highway. Many will travel between the two sides via a culvert located near the Visitor Centre but this is not recommended during times of heavy rain.
Because of the majestic beauty of the park – massive trees, beautiful waterfalls and a meandering river – and convenient location, it is a favourite for locals and tourists alike. Goldstream Provincial Park is the perfect escape from urban life located just 16 km from downtown Victoria.
The park is popular year-round but things really ramp up in the fall with the annual chum salmon spawning run. During this time thousands of salmon return to the place of their birth to reproduce. Salmon born here will spend 4 years in the open ocean before returning and continuing the circle of life. With all the dead fish, the “clean up crew” swoop in for their annual feed. This includes the impressive bald eagles as well as hawks, gulls, ducks and crows.
Protective measures put in place at the estuary a few years ago are proving quite beneficial with bald eagles returning to the area in record numbers. The Eagle Extravaganza is equally as popular as the salmon run, making the entire fall and early winter an active time at the park.
But not every visitor is here for the wildlife. People come to the park to:
Although outside the boundaries of Goldstream Provincial Park, many people came to the area to access the Goldstream railway trestle. The hike up to the trestle was considered difficult but the views still drew many crowds. This particular hike was discouraged as the trestle is private property and accessing it was considered trespassing. The tresle was also dangerous as there was a lack of safety sidings, the spacing of the beams are inconsistent and it can be very slippery, sadly leading to multiple accidents and fatalities . As of September 2021, permanent barriers have been installed to prevent further illegal access.
From easy walks for the whole family to strenuous hikes for the more adventurous, this park has something for everyone – see you soon!
For a complete list of the regional parks and trails, visit the Capital Regional District Park and Trail directory. (note: there are other municipal parks and trails that are not listed in this directory).
Naturally the beaches and parks in Victoria BC go hand-in-hand with water adventure and we have plenty of that! Some of the most popular water sports in the region are:
Did I miss your favourite beaches and parks in Victoria BC? Use the Contact Us form and let me know what I’m missing.
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