The Juan De Fuca Park and Marine Trail is one of my favourite places to camp and hike on Vancouver Island. Its easy to access being located on the south west side of Vancouver Island between the towns of Jordan River on the south end and Port Renfrew to the north. Its a great park to visit for just a day, an extended vacation or a multi-day hike. The climate is nice for a visit year round but is usually a little warmer and less damp in the summer.
Starting from Van Isle Camper Van rentals in Nanaimo the driving time to the trail head in Jordan River is 2.5 hours or 150 Km. This park was designed as a strenuous day or multi day hiking/camping in rugged and isolated area. But there are several easy to access beaches along the way. There are four trailheads with great access. Starting from Jordan River the access points are China Beach, Sombrio Beach, Parkinson Beach and Botanical Beach at Port Renfrew.
All the beaches are unique in their own way and around every bend is a different discovery. Mystic Beach with the ocean side water fall and cave is an easy 1.25 hour hike from the China Beach trailhead and is a great day hike/camping adventure. Pack a lunch and enjoy this beach but be aware that the west coast of British Columbia has 16 foot or 5 meter tides and come up fast. Check the tides before you start out to ensure a successful adventure. Click the link to the Canada tide guide to be safe. On the trail expect mud and lots of exposed slippery roots year round. There is also a very nice newer suspension bridge that the kids love. This is a well used part of the trail by tourist and locals alike but big enough to enjoy the isolation.
On a clear day the Views of the Olympic Peninsula from Sombrio Beach are some of the best in the area. Ive seen people surf, fish and camp all right on this beach. There is a hidden Mini canyon on the south end on the beach with a beautiful water fall. The walk to this beach is one of the easiest to access in the entire park but don’t be fooled. You’re in the wild and cougars, black bears and wolves are a common site in the park. Be smart with your food if your camping. Always respect the wildlife space and practice ” Leave no trace ” camping and hiking.
Tide pools and carved out rocks abound on Botanical Beach in Port renfrew. you’ll want to check the tide guide before you go to ensure you arrive on a falling tide. On a low tide you can enjoy the massive tide pools with all sorts of sea life and activity. The rocks can be very slippery so proceed with caution and be aware of the tide changes. This area can become very dangerous on a rising tide and people have been trapped on the wrong side of a rocky bluff to wait for the next tide change to get back. Plan ahead and stay safe.
Port Renfrew is both the end and the beginning of the Juan De Fuca Trail and the West Coast Trail. From here you can choose these trails, fish, camp or see the sights. They’re massive Old Growth trees in the area and should not be missed. But more on that in another blog.
Juan De Fuca Marine Park is a fantastic park for easy access and feeling remote at the same time. Camp in one spot and drive around to the other beaches and enjoy all the park has to offer. Be sure to drop in at Shirley Delicious along the way for some great home made fare and conversation just past Sooke. Don’t forget it is a rain forest so come prepared for whatever mother nature decides to throw at you and have fun.