Your Guide To The Ultimate South Vancouver Island Summer Road Trip

Summertime means road trip time! Whether you are coming to Canada from abroad or taking the time to get to know your home country, it is well-known that one of the best ways to enjoy the breathtaking views of British Columbia is by taking a drive down a country, mountain, or lakeside road. BC is a huge province, and we know it can be overwhelming, but don’t worry! Here’s your guide to the ultimate South Vancouver Island summer road trip!

South Vancouver Island

Victoria – Sooke – Lake Cowichan – Victoria

Embark on a journey through the enchanting landscapes of Southern Vancouver Island, where nature’s wonders and coastal charm awaits. Discover a region teeming with natural beauty, from lush forests to pristine beaches and picturesque coastal towns. This road trip promises an unforgettable adventure, where you can immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture, indulge in delectable cuisine, and explore the diverse outdoor wonders that South Vancouver Island has to offer.

We’ve carefully curated our road trip to focus on the mesmerizing southern tip of Vancouver Island, ensuring that every moment is cherished and celebrated. Vancouver Island is a veritable treasure trove of experiences and sights, a place so rich in wonders that we could write countless blogs dedicated solely to its allure. Having said that, here’s our blog on the ultimate South Vancouver Island summer road trip!

Ultimate South Vancouver Island Summer Road Trip Day One: Victoria


Begin your morning in Victoria with a leisurely stroll through Beacon Hill Park, a park with a rich past. The Lekungen People (now known as the Esquimalt Nation and the Songhees Nation) have used Beacon Park as a place of cultural and spiritual value for time in memorial. The Lekungen People’s cultivation practices, including the nurturing of camas and other indigenous plants for sustenance, have played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of this region. Beacon Hill Park is of significant archaeological importance, as it bears witness to this rich First Nations heritage and encompasses various known and potential sites, including an ancient First Nations burial ground nestled on the southeast slope of Beacon Hill, which holds deep reverence.

Formally established in 1882, Beacon Hill Park holds an integral place in the heart of Victoria. Recognized as a municipal heritage site in 2009, this 75-hectare park was bestowed upon the city to preserve and cherish this natural and cultural gem. This is an ideal spot to begin embracing Victoria’s heritage. Admire the beautifully landscaped gardens and ocean vistas, and relish in the company of friendly ducks and peacocks that roam freely.

Continue your journey through history at the childhood home of famed Canadian writer and artist Emily Carr. Explore the rooms where Emily Carr grew up and gain an appreciation for her artistic journey. Immerse yourself in the history and creative spirit that shaped Carr’s unique artistic vision as you explore the meticulously restored rooms, original artifacts, and engaging exhibits. From her early sketches to her celebrated landscapes, discover the inspiration behind Carr’s masterpieces and gain a deeper understanding of her profound impact on Canadian art. A must-visit destination for art enthusiasts and history buffs alike, Emily Carr House provides an intimate and enlightening experience.


Indulge in a timeless tradition and experience luxury at the Empress in Victoria. Immerse yourself in elegance as you partake in the ritual of afternoon tea in the iconic Tea Lobby. Savour delicate finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones, and an array of delectable pastries, all expertly crafted. Bask in the opulent surroundings, adorned with beautiful chandeliers, as you sip on the finest teas from around the world. The Empress has been hosting afternoon tea since 1908 and has served famed royalty, celebrities, and dignitaries. What an experience!

Continue with the royalty theme as you head to Craigdarroch Castle, an impressive Victorian castle that exudes royal grandeur. Built by coal baron Robert Dunsmuir during Queen Victoria’s reign, this magnificent castle is now a National Historic Site. Observe the opulence of the Victorian era as you explore the castle’s beautifully preserved rooms adorned with lavish furnishings and intricate woodwork. Marvel at the stunning architecture and panoramic views of the city from the tower. With knowledgeable guides to enhance your visit, Craigdarroch Castle offers a captivating journey into the past. The history of the Dunsmuir family is one of extravagance with the occasional scandal.


Bastion Square is the perfect place to spend the remainder of your time in Victoria. With many options for restaurants, you’ll be sure to find something for dinner that will impress you. We highly suggest Wind Cries Mary, a farm-to-table restaurant that serves family-style dishes with ingredients from local fishermen and farmers.

Bastion Square was the original Fort Victoria. Now transformed into a pedestrian walkway, this area provides a gateway to the Inner Harbour. Visitors can explore the vibrant Bastion Square Market, offering a diverse range of crafts, jewelry, and art.

With its intriguing past that includes a jail and gallows, Bastion Square has earned a haunting reputation adding to its allure. In fact, a great way to wind up your Victoria visit is by experiencing the thrill of the past coming to life on a hauntingly unforgettable ghost tour! Discover the Past offers a variety of ghostly walks, including one in Bastion Square. Step into the shadows of the city’s historic streets as you embark on an eerie journey through time. Join their knowledgeable guides as they lead you through haunted alleys and hidden corners, where whispers of chilling tales and ghostly legends linger. Discover the Past has collected over five hundred accounts of apparitions and has deep-dived the reality behind Victoria’s past crimes and accidents. Whether you’re a skeptic or a believer, their ghost tours promise an evening of intrigue and excitement. Dare to venture into the unknown and experience a ghostly encounter like no other!

Ultimate South Vancouver Island Summer Road Trip Day Two: Sooke


The drive from Victoria to Sooke along Highway 14, also known as the West Coast Highway, is approximately 40 kilometres and takes around 45 minutes to an hour. This scenic journey showcases the natural beauty of Vancouver Island’s southern coast and sets the stage for an exciting day of exploring Sooke and its surroundings. Breathtaking ocean views will be your constant companion as you drive, with occasional peaks at the Juan de Fuca Strait. Depending on which part of Victoria you leave from, you might pass by Goldstream Provincial Park, and if so, we won’t blame you if you want to make a stop. With massive trees, marvellous waterfalls, and a meandering river that meets the ocean, it’s one of the many natural wonders you will find on Vancouver Island. If your route doesn’t take you that way, don’t worry! You’ll have the chance on your way back to Victoria.

Time to set out on an oceanic adventure and experience the wonders of whale watching in Sooke! Adventures by HIP is a family-friendly ocean eco-tourism and whale-watching company that’s just a stone’s throw from Prestige Oceanfront Resort Sooke. They offer year-round service and provide guests with an up-close interactive experience. Prestige Rewards Members save 10%!

Sooke Whale Watching is a well-trusted whale-watching establishment that would be a great pick for your excursion. A family-run, locally owned and operated business, Sooke Whale Watching is an eco-adventure touring company committed to environmental sustainability. Their team comprises seasoned experts with extensive knowledge of weather patterns, geography, wildlife, and the ancient history of Sooke.

Venture into the pristine waters off of Sooke’s coastline, known for its rich marine biodiversity and abundant wildlife. Your tour guide knows the best vantage points to witness orcas, humpback whales, seals, and more! Immerse yourself in the unspoiled splendour of the Pacific Ocean, where every moment holds the promise of a captivating encounter. Get ready to be spellbound by the grace and grandeur of these magnificent creatures.


Sooke Potholes Provincial Park is a short drive from Sooke, so pack a picnic and hit the road. Nature’s wonders await you. Follow the meandering rails through the lush forests to the captivating smooth rock pools with emerald waters. These holes were formed over centuries by the Sooke River. Dive into the crystal-clear pools for a refreshing swim, bask in the sun on the sun-kissed rocks, and let the rhythmic sounds of the water lull you into tranquillity. Whether you’re seeking a thrilling adventure or a serene escape, Sooke Potholes offers an idyllic sanctuary for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alive. The landscape will you leave you in awe as you uncover the magic of the Sooke Potholes, Mother Nature’s finest work.


Before dinner, rent a kayak or a stand-up paddle board and get back out on the water. Paddling around the Sooke Basin gives you incredible views of the ocean and the coast. Discover hidden coves and marine life along the way. Enjoy this aquatic paradise, where the harmony of the sea and sky merge in front of you. As the sun dips below the horizon, feel the ocean’s rhythm and relax.

While Sooke has amazing views everywhere you look, the view off the patio at West Coast Grill hits differently. Maybe it’s the meals featuring a diverse mix of local ingredients and the carefully curated wine list that add to the atmosphere. Conveniently located at Prestige Oceanfront Resort Sooke, it’s the best spot for dinner in Sooke.

Continue your relaxation at one of Prestige Oceanfront Resort Sooke’s licensed outdoor fire pits. Order a well-deserved snack, glass of wine, or dessert, from West Coast Grill after your evening of exploration. In front of you, the stars glimmer off of the calm black inky water of the Juan de Fuca Strait, and you might start to contemplate moving to the Island. Don’t worry; it happens!

Ultimate South Vancouver Island Summer Road Trip Day Three: Lake Cowichan


Get ready for your journey to depart from the ocean views and head inland through the lush forests. You’ll get back on Highway 14 and head towards Port Renfrew, a charming oceanside village. This winding highway will take you through scenes out of a painting, with peaks of the ocean to your left as you wind through the untamed coast. Port Renfrew has towering trees and stunning beaches. Consider making a stop at Botanical Beach Provincial Park, renowned for its rich tidal pools and unique rock formations. As you leave Port Renfrew, you will still take Highway 14, but it will turn from the ocean and begin winding through lush rainforests and mountainous terrain. This part of the drive is part of the Pacific Marine Circle Route, showcasing the region’s diverse landscape. As you approach Lake Cowichan, you’ll be greeted by the serene beauty of Cowichan Lake, a large freshwater lake perfect for fishing, boating, and kayaking.


If you’d like to spend your time on the lake, we totally understand, but in the spirit of variety, we suggest you make the drive to the Cowichan River Lodge. Cowichan River is a prominent feature in the Cowichan Valley and is one of the most popular rivers for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, especially fly fishing! Lake Cowichan Lodge is nestled on the river, an idyllic bed and breakfast run by a local couple who know all the ins and outs of the area. This is where you will truly feel the Canadian wilderness on the island.

Cowichan River is one of the first Canadian rivers to receive heritage status. If you come to the river with the reverence it deserves, you might just leave with a cooler full of trout. With a flick of the wrist, your fly kisses the surface of the Cowichan River, drawing ripples that flow outward like a secret shared. Fly fishing really is a dance of patience and finesse. Feel the world slow around you as the water rhythmically flows over your feet, connecting you with the spirit of the river. The allure of fly fishing is not just in the catch but in the connection to nature, the ebb and the flow.


Watch the evening mist rise up off the river and settle in the marshland from the comfort of the patio. Wrap yourself up in a cozy blanket and tune in to the sounds around you. Partake in your favourite beverage and maybe settle into a good book, meaningful conversation, your favourite podcast, or just enjoy the peace and quiet. As you look forward to the last leg of your trip and the delicious breakfast that will be provided for you tomorrow morning, make sure you take the time to sink into the peaceful nature that surrounds you. Look up! Have you ever seen stars like that?

Ultimate South Vancouver Island Summer Road Trip Day Four: Victoria


Today is all about the journey, but don’t worry, there are plenty of potential stops for you to take in between. You’ll say goodbye to the inland charm of Cowichan Lake and the dense rainforests and head back towards the coast.

Highway 14 will take you out of Lake Cowichan through lush forests and offers glimpses of the Juan de Fuca Strait. As you travel east, you will pass through the charming city of Duncan, also known as “The City of Totems.” Duncan is renowned for its collection of totem poles that can be found throughout the city. Grab a coffee from Drumroaster Coffee and see how many you can find! This is a great spot to get out and stretch your legs, there’s even a totem tour walk guide put out by the city. These towering and intricately carved wooden structures are a significant representation of Indigenous art and culture. Each one tells a unique story, with carvings that depict ancestral legends, family histories, cultural beliefs, and important events of the Indigenous peoples of the region.


Back on Highway 14, you will eventually reach Malahat Drive, a famous picturesque stretch of road that climbs up the Malahat Ridge. This scenic drive offers breathtaking views of Saanich Inlet and the surrounding landscapes. As you descend from the Malahat, you’ll enter Goldstream Provincial Park. If you didn’t pass by on your way to Sooke, here’s your chance to stop! The waterfall is a sight to behold, it’s unbelievable how this fantastic piece of untamed nature is so close to Victoria’s front door.

With that, you have successfully made your way back to Victoria. Go on a historic walk, check out the BC Legislature Building, or spend the day at the Royal BC Museum… the opportunities are endless!

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