Victoria and Vancouver Island Feature


Victoria Waterfront on Foot

You can walk most of the way around Victoria's waterfront from Westbay Marina on the Outer Harbour's north shore, to Ross Bay on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The entire 7-mile route takes several hours, but it passes many of the city's sights and great scenery. Waterfront pubs and cafés supply sustenance; ferries and buses offer transport as needed.

Begin with a ride on Harbour Ferries to Westbay Marina, the start of Westsong Way. This 2-mile pedestrian path (no cyclists permitted) follows the waterfront past Vic West to the Johnson Street Bridge. The views across the harbor are rewarding, as is a stop at the waterfront Spinnakers Brewpub. Harbour Ferries stop at Spinnakers and at the Delta Ocean Pointe Resort, so you can choose to start from either point.

Once across the Johnson Street Bridge you can detour to Chinatown and Market Square or, to continue the walk, turn right to Yates Street, then right again down to the water (a Downtown Walk/Harbour Walkway sign shows the way). The route runs past floatplane docks and whale-watching outfitters (where a fish-tacos snack at Red Fish, Blue Fish—a waterfront take-out spot—may be in order) to the Inner Harbour Causeway. Starting from the Visitor Information Centre, this waterfront walkway—busy all summer with street entertainers and crafts and snack vendors—curves around the Inner Harbour. It's only about a quarter mile around, but could take a while if you stop to watch all the torch jugglers and caricature artists. The Fairmont Empress, the Royal BC Museum, and the Parliament Buildings are all here—just across the road from the water.

Detour along Belleville Street past the ferry terminals and pick the path up where it enters Laurel Point Park just past the Clipper terminal. From here, the route leads through the pretty waterfront park and past a marina to Fisherman's Wharf, where you can stop for fish-and-chips on the dock, or grab a ferry back downtown. To keep going, follow Dallas Road to the Ogden Point Cruise Ship terminal, where you can walk out on the breakwater for a view of the ships or grab a snack on the ocean-view deck of the Ogden Point Café.

You're now on the shore of Juan de Fuca Strait, where a footpath runs another 4 miles along cliff tops past Beacon Hill Park to the historic cemetery at Ross Bay. Dog walkers, joggers, and kite flyers are usually out in force on the grassy cliff top; stairways lead down to pebbly beaches. A hike north through Beacon Hill Park will get you back downtown.

Car Travel: The Scenic Marine Drive starts at Ogden Point on Dallas Road (you can also pick it up at the foot of Douglas Street) and follows the shores of Juan de Fuca and Haro straits, offering views of Washington's Olympic Mountains across the water and glimpses of beautiful seaside homes. The drive runs past Beacon Hill Park to Oak Bay, with its marina, seafood restaurant, and waterfront coffee bar, to Willows Beach Park at the foot of Dalhouse Street. It then winds through the Uplands—said to have more millionaires per square kilometer than anywhere else in Canada—past Cadboro Bay Beach and through Mount Douglas Park to the stretch of sand at Cordova Bay. Cordova Bay Road joins Highway 17, which leads back to town or north to Sidney. You can follow this route by bike as well (follow the Seaside Touring Route signs). At Cordova Bay, you can pick up the Lochside Trail, a car-free path that you can follow downtown or up to the Saanich Peninsula. Bike Travel: You can also do this route by bike, though you'll have to follow the streets running parallel to the waterfront, as most of the pathway is pedestrian-only. The ride along Dallas Road and through Beacon Hill Park has the least traffic.

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