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Sooke and the Southwest Coast
The village of Sooke, on the shore of Juan de Fuca Strait, about a 30-minute drive west of Victoria, has two claims to fame: it's home to Sooke Harbour House, one of Canada's best-known country inns, and it's the last stop for gas and supplies before heading out to the beaches and hiking trails of the island's wild and scenic southwest coast.
From Sooke, the narrow and winding Highway 14 leads 80 km (48 mi) through birch and fir woods, with occasional sea views to Port Renfrew, a fishing village on the west coast. En route it passes Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, where trailheads lead to a series of forest-backed, driftwood-strewn beaches. The area is home to some excellent restaurants and high-end B&Bs, though other services are few.
To avoid retracing your steps to Victoria, you can follow the signs for the Pacific Marine Circle Route. This self-guided road trip follows Highway 14 from Victoria to Port Renfrew, where it takes a well-maintained back road through the forest to the village of Lake Cowichan. From here, Highway 18 leads to Highway 1 and back to Victoria. Driving time is about three hours, but watch your fuel gauge, as there are no gas stations between Sooke and Lake Cowichan and no services at all on the 55 km (30 mi) between Port Renfrew and Lake Cowichan.
Sooke and the Southwest Coast at a Glance
- Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park
- East Sooke Regional Park
- French Beach Provincial Park
- Juan de Fuca Provincial Park
Elsewhere in Victoria and Vancouver Island
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