Written by Matt Burnaby, Zodiac Captain
Driving from Victoria to Port Renfrew is where the adventure begins. Part of the Pacific Marine Loop, Port Renfrew sits between Victoria and Cowichan. Coming from either direction takes you down a winding paved road leading you through the wild coastlines, valleys and rivers of the Pacific temperate rainforests.
The main draw to this small town is the incredible beauty of it’s nature, where massive trees stand among the oldest growth forests left on Vancouver Island. Fairy Creek, Avatar Grove, Botanical Beach, and Sombrio Beach are some of the most well-known forests near Port Renfrew, among many more.
The ocean here is undoubtedly full of life and our tours allow us to explore this hidden wilderness that is otherwise inaccessible to us. That said, these rich forests ecosystems reveal to us an incredible diversity of wildlife. Bald eagles can be easily viewed perched above the branches of the sandy Pacheedaht beach. While river otters are a common site swimming by the shoreline or mischievously wandering along the sandy beach. Keep an eye out by the river while driving through Port Renfrew, where lucky observers can see Black Bears, Elk and Beavers – the shyer residents of the area. After a day of exploring the old growth forests, rugged beaches and viewpoints around town; most people find the best way to end the day is at Lizard Lake. Known for it’s clean water and the undergrowth that surrounds it. The lake is small and perfect temperature for swimming even after the sun dips behind the trees. On the drive to the lake make sure to stop at Fairy Lake where the magical Fairy Lake tree grows seemingly straight of the water. Bring your camera everywhere you go and make sure to grab a picture of this iconic tree. Lizard Lake and Pacheedaht Beach are both idyllic campgrounds for an overnight stay – and for those of you looking for comfort, the Seaside Cottages look out across the bay and up into the mountains beyond.
If you are looking to get off the beaten trail, to bring your camera and a sense of exploration then Port Renfrew is the place. It is the best area to see all of Vancouver Islands natural beauty in only a couple days. From the old growth forests to the mountain views and down to the lakes and rivers and out to the ocean. This is where to come to experience nature.
Port Renfrew needs you – tourism here leads to preservation. While many of these natural wonders remain protected within the boundary of provincial parks, others look to be exploited for their resources. This small town has been undiscovered for too long and to be protected, it needs to be seen globally by visitors. We at Orca Spirit Adventures invite you to explore with us, come learn about the wildlife that call this place home.