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  • Ine Vandenwyngaert

Highlights on a Road Trip from Sooke to Port Renfrew

Updated: Aug 31, 2022

Looking for the best hikes and beaches between Sooke and Port Renfrew? We have you covered in this post, highlighting how the rugged coastline to the Northwest of Victoria is perfect for a day or weekend trip. With little to no phone reception and pure wilderness surrounding, it is a true escape from the hustle and bustle of Victoria! The West Coast Road connects the town of Sooke in the south to Port Renfrew in the north, passing by lush rainforest, rocky cliffs, surf-tossed beaches, and some of the most beautiful scenery on Vancouver Island. Go camping right next to the ocean, chase the "hidden" waterfalls, or hike one of the many nature trails... Adventure is waiting. Find in this article what the highlights are on a road trip from Sooke to Port Renfrew!

Watch the video below to learn about 10 incredible places to visit on Vancouver Island!

Want to explore all the hidden gems on Vancouver Island? Download our free Vancouver Island Bucket List. Including secret waterfalls, beaches, and hikes to enjoy.

1. East Sooke Regional Park

Only an hour's drive to the north from Victoria lies East Sooke Regional Park. With 50 kilometers of hiking trails, it is the perfect destination for a leisurely day hike. The most popular hike is the 13 km (9 mi) Coast Trail which winds through the rainforest right next to the coastline. Along the way, you'll encounter rocky bays, hidden beaches, tide pools, and spectacular views of the Strait of Juan the Fuca and the Olympic Mountains in the US. It is not surprising that the Coast Trail is one of the best day hikes on Vancouver Island. Bring enough water and good hiking boots as the trail is muddy, rocky, and fairly challenging!

Click here to see a map with all the hiking trails in East Sooke Regional Park.

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Hiking trail details

Duration: 5-6 hours

Elevation: 520 m (1706 ft)

As the Coast Trail is a thru-hike, there are two different trailheads you can start the hike from. You can either start at Aylard Farm Trailhead and go east or start at Pike Road Trailhead and go west. It doesn't matter which one you choose as the elevation gain is about the same. However, you will need to have a car or shuttle at the other end of the trail if you want to avoid walking another 13km back to the car. In case you are two people, you could possibly take two cars and drop each car at a different trailhead. If you are hiking solo, you could hire a shuttle that brings you to the opposite trailhead at the start.

We started our hike at Aylard Farm Trailhead and had our friends' car parked at the end of the route, making for a one-way trip. The video below summarizes our experience and the beauty that can be found along the trail!

Check out our hiking gear guide so you know what to wear on on your hike!

2. Sooke Potholes

If you are traveling on a hot and sunny summer day, it is time to hit the Sooke Potholes! This is one of our favorite hidden gems in all of BC. As the name implies, the Sooke Potholes are a set of naturally formed pools or "potholes" and unique rock formations along the Sooke River. The pools are perfect and available for swimming, but bear in mind that the water is cold! A beautiful 5 km (3 mi) area of pools is filled with bright green-colored water and numerous cascading waterfalls along the way. We love to jump in off the rock edges and feel the pure water rush over us under the hot sun. Just make sure to be careful of rocks and only jump where others are jumping, as many locals frequent this location and know the best spots. Sooke Potholes is the perfect destination for a refreshing dip before continuing your road trip towards Port Renfrew.

Sooke Potholes in BC should not be missed on a roadtrip from Sooke to Port Renfrew
The Sooke Potholes during the Summer

3. Sandcut Beach

A 30-minute drive from Sooke will take you to the mesmerizing Sandcut Beach! We always make sure to stop along the way for a coffee and pastry break at the renowned Shirley Delicious (Address: 2794 Sheringham Point Rd, Shirley).

Sandcut Beach is located in the Jordan River Regional Park and a popular day-use area among the locals. The parking area is just left off the Highway towards Jordan River ( approx. 4 km before the town). From the parking lot, a short 15 min walk will take you through a lush cedar forest with boardwalks to the beach. The shore is filled with beautiful cobbles and a small waterfall. Walk up close to the waterfall and breathe in the fresh ocean air.

Sandcut Beach along the highway that connects Sooke to Port Renfrew
Sandcut Beach waterfall

where to stay sooke

4. Mystic Beach

How to get there

Mystic Beach is located in the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park about 10 km north from Sand Cut Beach. It is undoubtedly the most scenic beach and waterfall along the West Coast Road! Here you will get a real taste of the wild West Coast of Vancouver Island. Park your car in the parking lot at the China Beach Trailhead, and start following the 2 km trail through the ancient forest! As part of the well-known Juan de Fuca Marine Trail (47 km / 29 mi), this short walk is a great introduction to this longer more rugged hiking trail.

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Hiking trail details

After about 45 mins of hiking, you will arrive at the sandy Mystic Beach. To your left, you will see a stunning waterfall cascading down a rocky wall. These waterfalls are quite impressive during the autumn and wintertime when the West Coast receives the most rain. During the summer, however, the stream of water slowly dies which makes for a thin and disappointing waterfall. We've been to this beach in both the winter and summer and have to say that the winter is much more spectacular if you want to see the waterfall in its true glory.

Mystic Beach Waterfall is a must-visit on a roadtrip from sooke to port renfrew
Mystic Beach waterfall during the winter

The good news is that there is much more to Mystic Beach than just the falls. Another mysterious sight is the small hidden cave on the western side of the beach. When it is low tide, you can make your way inside this cave and observe the waves crashing onto the rocks. When you are watching the tide coming in, look out for seals, sea lions, and whales! The Grey Whales migrate to this area each spring and are often spotted from Mystic Beach. We saw a few seals ourselves on our last trip to the Mystic Beach caves.

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Mystic Beach Camping

In the summer, Mystic Beach becomes a popular camping spot. As the beach is more sandy compared to the other West Coast beaches, it is the ideal spot to set up your tent and start a campfire while you watch the sun go down.

Mystic Beach caves are a great stop on a roadtrip from Sooke to Port Renfrew
Inside the small cave on Mystic Beach

5. Sombrio Beach

Sombrio Beach is our all-time favorite beach on Vancouver Island. Attracting a fairly young crowd, this beach has a relaxed and pleasant vibe. During the summertime, it is a popular camping spot with friends or family, while in the other seasons the conditions for surfing are great. Besides surfing, visitors come here to relax on the beach, play beach games, hike (part of) the Juan de Fuca Trail, or explore the hidden waterfalls!

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Sombrio Beach Waterfalls

There are two waterfalls near the beach worth searching for. The "secret" waterfall in the cave is a true delight and although it used to be a hidden gem, many people are starting to know about it now! A 20 mins walk to the left side of Sombrio Beach brings you to the only creek that runs into the ocean. This is where you want to follow the creek inland until you reach the canyon and waterfall soon after. The giant green wall with the tumbling waterfall is the picture-perfect location of the whole area. Another waterfall can be found along the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail which continues near the creek more to your left. This waterfall pours down right into the ocean, making for an impressive sight.

Sombrio Beach waterfalls on the road from sooke to port renfrew
The Secret Waterfall on Sombrio Beach

Sombrio beach hidden waterfall is a great spot to visit when driving to port renfrew from sooke
Second waterfall

Sombrio Beach Camping

In our opinion, Sombrio Beach is the best camping spot on Vancouver Island! The cobbled beach can be found about 20 km (12 mi) north of Mystic Beach. There is a small gravel road off Highway 14 that takes you down to the Sombrio Beach Trailhead parking lot. Park your car, pay for your camping at the trailhead (bring cash), and walk about 250 meters down to the beach. Right when you access, you will see many tents scattered around the beach. This is because this part of the beach is the sandiest and thus softest to set up camp. It is also close to facilities like toilets and food caches. Campfires are allowed on the beach (unless otherwise noted in a dry season), and absolutely recommended! Roast some s'mores, have a few beverages, and observe thousands of stars in the clear night sky.

Check out our camping packing list to prepare yourself for your camping trip!

The best camping spot on Vancouver Island