12 Best Things To Do In Sooke, BC

12 Best Things To Do In Sooke Vancouver Island

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Sooke on Vancouver Island is one of those small towns where there’s “nothing to do”, yet it has endless opportunities for outdoor lovers. At Sooke the rainforest meets the sea, the rugged coastline and giant trees offer the unmistaken West Coast beauties – and tons of places for hiking, mountain biking, swimming, kayaking, paddling, surfing. Or camping on the beach. So…

Is Sooke worth visiting?

This region of Vancouver Island is home to one of the most picturesque coastal trails on the British Columbia coastline, and also to some of the loveliest beach waterfalls in the world. If you still need persuasion, in this post I collected the best things to do in Sooke. Yes, I do think that it makes for a great getaway either from Victoria or Vancouver, and I’d definitely add it to any Vancouver Island itinerary.

Best time to visit Sooke, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

East Sooke Coast Trail, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Where is Sooke? On Vancouver Island and in British Columbia. It’s a good indication of the weather you can expect.

Like Vancouver and Victoria, Sooke has the mildest weather you find in Canada, allowing you to enjoy the outdoors all year. Though it’s a year-round destination, different seasons bring different weather. The warmest and driest part of the year is from late May to September. It’s the best time for hiking, swimming, kayaking, but it’s also the best time for whale-watching.

Fall comes with nice colors, but also with more frequent rain. Winter temperatures are not freezing, but winter is an extremely rainy season. Storms can look quite spectacular though, storm-watching is a thing on the coast, and it’s one of the most impressive things to do in Sooke in winter.

Best things to do in Sooke, Vancouver Island

It takes only about 40 minutes to drive from Victoria to Sooke, but the hustle and bustle of the city is washed away. Sooke is a laid-back coastal small town, with lots of parks, trails and beaches nearby, but also with restaurants, breweries and food trucks.

What to do in Sooke? I’m sharing my favorites with you:

Hike the Coast Trail in East Sooke Regional Park

East Sooke Coast Trail, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

One of the best Sooke activities is outside of town, but get used to this. The very best things to do in Sooke are actually the very best things to do near Sooke. Like hiking in East Sooke Regional Park.

If you only have time for one thing, head to East Sooke Regional Park and do the Coast Trail. It’s 10.5 km one-way, starting from Aylard Farm and ending at the Iron Mine Bay. It’s our favorite coastal trail in British Columbia!

Unlike the famous Juan de Fuca Marine Trail (which is a multi-day hike), the East Sooke Coast Trail runs directly on the coast, rewarding with wonderful ocean vistas all the way – and even with views of the Olympic Mountains. You’ll notice the huge fir trees, arbutus trees and the countless wildflowers. But similarly to the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, it involves a surprising amount of ups and downs on the rugged coastline.

East Sooke Coast Trail, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Ideally, you can arrange transport and do the Coast Trail as a one-way hike. But don’t worry if it’s not the case. You can do just a portion of the trail, and start at either end. We did it as a loop, starting from the Aylard Farm parking lot and hiking to Cabin Point, then getting back to the parking on the Interior Trail. It was a 9 km loop, suitable to do as a half day hike.

If you start from the Aylard Farm Trailhead, we recommend adding the short trail to Creyke Point. It’s a tiny addition, but Creyke Point has amazing views!

Hiking essentials:

Take a dip in Sooke Potholes Provincial Park

Sooke Potholes Provincial Park, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Sooke Potholes Provincial Park in May

Mention Sooke to anyone living on Vancouver Island, and they will think of “Sooke Potholes”. Sooke Potholes Provincial Park is just 10 minutes drive from the town, and the most famous attractions there are the deep rock pools naturally carved into the bedrock of the Sooke River by glacial activities. 

They’re popular swimming holes in the summer (even though they don’t get really warm). You can also walk the trails that run above the canyon walls, go to the lookouts and get a view of the potholes from above. In the winter months when it rains a lot and the level of the river is higher, you might not even be able to see the potholes. You’ll see rushing waterfalls in exchange.

Further upstream on Sooke River, you’ll also find two sandy beaches. They’re not as unique as the potholes, but accessing the water there is easier, and it’s ideal for families with small kids. 

The Riverside Trail runs along the water, offering pretty river and canyon views. It’s 8.9 km there and back, but you can walk as far as you’d like to.

You find three parking lots as you enter Sooke Potholes Provincial Park. Lot 3 is closest to the potholes and beaches, but the giant parking lots all fill up on a nice summer day, so you might not have a choice. Don’t miss Todd Creek waterfall as you’re on your way to the parking lot, it’s right by the road.

Sooke Potholes Provincial Park is among the best Sooke attractions in any season.

Hike to Mary Vine Creek Falls

Mary Vine Creek Falls, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Mary Vine Creek Falls is not in Sooke Potholes Provincial Park, but the short (1.5 km return) hiking trail to the waterfall starts there, from the Parking Lot 2.

It runs along Mary Vine Creek (just make sure not to follow the Galloping Goose Trail that it crosses in the beginning), then just before the waterfall it seems that you’re leaving the creek to climb up somewhere. I got a bit confused, but followed the sign that indicated a waterfall, anyway, and it took me exactly there. You can get down at the very bottom of Mary Vine Creek Falls, carefully stepping on the rocks in the creek.

The creek (and the waterfall) dries out in the summer, but it’s a lovely waterfall in the rainier part of the year (so here’s another one of the best things to see in Sooke in winter). We did this hike in May and found it impressive.

Mary Vine Creek Falls hiking essentials:

Walk on Whiffin Spit

Whiffin Spit, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

The walk out to Whiffin Spit is the local’s favorite choice for a casual stroll along the ocean. You’ll see dog walkers, joggers, couples and families spending their time here, and you find the best beaches in Sooke along this walk. Even better if you can wait for sunset.

Whiffin Spit is a sand spit that separates the Sooke Basin and the wild waters of the Juan de Fuca Strait. There’s a wide, flat walking trail stretching for 1.3 km, lined with benches and pebbly beaches (at low tide), and it ends at a small lighthouse. Though the views can’t compete with the East Sooke Coast Trail, it’s the best nature walk in town, much shorter and completely flat, suitable for strollers and wheelchairs, as well.

Whiffin Spit, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

On clear days you can see the Olympic Mountains in Washington state in the distance.

There’s one thing that’s challenging about Whiffin Spit Trail: parking. It’s very limited near the trailhead, so you may have to park further away and walk back.

Drive the Juan De Fuca Highway from Sooke to Port Renfrew

Mystic Beach, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Sooke and Port Renfrew are about 70 km from each other, which means a 1.5 hours drive from Sooke to Port Renfrew on the coast. A drive full of scenic stops at beaches and waterfalls. It’s rather a full day activity than a few hours, because the coast is steep and most beaches along the Juan De Fuca Highway require some walking or hiking.

They’re not only the most picturesque beaches near Sooke, but on the whole of Vancouver Island! French Beach and China Beach are the easiest to access (only a short walk away from their parking lots), but Sombrio Beach and Mystic Beach are the most special. Keep on reading, because they’re the next best places to visit on a Sooke getaway.

Hunt for beach waterfalls

The first waterfall I’ve seen flowing directly on a beach and into the ocean was McWay Falls in California. It looked like a postcard, and I thought there’s no other place like that in the world.

Beach waterfalls are rare and special, but we found some more on our travels on the West Coast in the following years. Juan de Fuca Provincial Park on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island has several lovely beach waterfalls. They’re among the most fascinating places to visit near Sooke!

Sandcut Beach waterfall

Sandcut Beach, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Sandcut Beach waterfall is the first one, and it takes a 2 km return hike to visit it – half of which is the walk on Sandcut Beach. To find it, drive past Sandcut Creek on the Juan De Fuca Highway, park in the small parking area by the road and hike down to Sandcut Beach. Then walk back toward the creek on the beach until you see the small waterfall.

Sandcut Falls might be small, but the setting is nice. It flows over sandstone rocks and onto the beach, and you can even walk behind it.

China Beach waterfall

Mystic Beach and China Beach are accessible from the same parking lot. If you have to choose one, let it be Mystic Beach. But that’s the longer hike, and walking to China Beach is a short addition.

It’s a nice beach, similar to neighboring Mystic Beach, but the waterfall is less impressive and less obvious to notice. You need to walk around the rock wall at the northern edge of the beach to find the waterfall in a small canyon behind it.

Mystic Beach waterfall

Mystic Beach waterfall, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Accessible from the same parking lot as China Beach, Mystic Beach requires a bit more work. It’s a 2 km hike from the parking lot, and the trail is steeply descending and extremely muddy at places. But the rainforest is impressive, and you’ll cross a suspension bridge on the way to the beach.

Mystic Beach has a waterfall that cascades from the high coastal cliffs onto the beach – or into the water at high tide. You bet it’s a scenic picnic spot, and a popular one, too, especially in the summertime. For 10 CAD you can even camp on the beach. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches on Vancouver Island!

Find the Sombrio Beach “secret waterfalls” – two of them!

Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, BC, Canada

We never feel we’ve been to too many beaches, and that’s especially true for Sooke beaches. Our favorite beach is a bit further towards Port Renfrew though: Sombrio Beach. The look of the beach is similar to Mystic Beach, but we found it even more special.

It’s cut into two by the Sombrio River, and there are two hidden waterfalls to find: one’s in a narrow, lush green canyon behind the beach (this is what’s called the Sombrio Beach Waterfall), the other is a beach waterfall which you can see as you start your hike on the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail towards Chin Beach.

Surf on Sombrio Beach

Sombrio Beach is the best surfing beach in the region, offering surf breaks for both beginners and experienced surfers.

The beach area south of Sombrio River (East & West Sombrio Beach) is more suitable for beginners, and it even has facilities (two pit toilets). The beach is sandy, but it’s mixed with pebbles and rocks.

You find West-West Sombrio Beach north of the Sombrio River, and you need to cross the suspension bridge to get there (or cross the river). It’s less busy, but quite popular among advanced surfers.

Sombrio Beach, Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, BC, Canada

Go an a whale-watching tour from Sooke

What else to see in Sooke? Whales! The Juan de Fuca Strait is a great place for whale watching. Killer whales, humpback whales and gray whales are frequent visitors, especially in the spring and summer when whales migrate along the West coast. You can also see seals, porpoises, otters, sea lions and bald eagles. 

Most whale-watching tours from Sooke take you to the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve and along the rugged coastline of East Sooke Regional Park.

Sooke Whale Watching departs near Whiffin Spit, and Adventures by HIP departs directly from the Sooke Harbour.

Bike the Galloping Goose Trail

The Galloping Goose Trail is a 60 km long hiking and biking trail that connects Victoria to Sooke. It’s nice to do in all seasons, and it’s an easy trail that’s suitable for beginners and families, too.

The former railway gently winds through the forest, with slight uphills. The best sections are the trestle bridges and the lookout area in Sooke Potholes Provincial Park.

Visit the Sheringham Point Lighthouse

Sheringham Point Lighthouse, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Sheringham Point Lighthouse is a scenic and historic stop as you drive from Sooke to Port Renfrew. Built in 1912, it operated for 77 years, until 1989. Now the preserved historical site sits on a rocky bluff, offering great views out across the Juan de Fuca Strait to the Olympic Mountains.

To access the short trail to the lighthouse, you need to turn off Highway 14 in the small town of Shirley. Then follow the narrow road to the parking lot. It’s signed all the way, and it’s usually not a busy place, so parking shouldn’t be a problem.

Watch the sunset from any beach

West Coast beaches have incredible sunsets (given that you can see the sun). Plan to finish some of your days on the beaches if you visit Sooke, so that you don’t miss this experience.

How to visit Sooke on a day tour from Victoria?

Ideally, you need at least a few days to visit Sooke. But if you only have a day, this tour from Victoria takes you along the coast, from Sooke to Port Renfrew, stopping at some of the highlights on the way, including Sooke Potholes, Botanical Beach, French Beach and the fascinating old-growth rainforest trail at Avatar Grove.

East Sooke Coast Trail, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Where to stay in Sooke, BC?

Prestige Oceanfront Resort is one of the best places to stay in Sooke for those looking for a luxurious central stay, with views of Sooke Harbour, an indoor pool and hot tub for guests. What’s more, guests can use various sporting equipments, such as bikes, balls, beach toys and board games, for free. Check prices here.

If you’d prefer a remote and exceptionally scenic location, SookePoint Ocean Cottage Resort is for you. It’s only a few kilometers away from East Sooke Regional Park, each room has sea views, and some of them come with a private balcony. Check prices here.

For a more affordable stay, choose a lovely bed and breakfast on the coast of Sooke Basin. Sterling Cove B&B is just off Highway 14, the rooms have garden or ocean views, and there’s a hot tub for guests. Check prices here.

Arbutus Cove Guesthouse is another waterfront B&B, with a private beach area and sun terrace, ideal for a quiet, comfortable romantic getaway. Check prices here.

How to get to Sooke, BC?

Preferably, by car. Unless you visit on an organized day tour, you’ll need a car to get around and visit those astonishing, but remote beaches. There aren’t any car rental agencies in Sooke, so rent a car in Victoria or Vancouver.

How to get to Sooke from Vancouver?

Mystic Beach, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Vancouver Island is accessible by ferry or by plane from the mainland. You need to take either one to get to Victoria first.

BC Ferries run regular sailings from Tsawwassen ferry terminal in Vancouver to Swartz Bay in Victoria. It’s a 1.5 hour ferry ride, and you need to drive about 35 minutes to downtown Victoria from the terminal. Correct, this ferry terminal is NOT walking distance from downtown Victoria

Your other option to get to Victoria from Vancouver is by plane. Fly from Vancouver directly to Victoria International Airport with Air Canada or WestJet, or into Victoria’s Inner Harbour with Helijet or Harbour Air. The Inner Harbour is part of Victoria’s downtown.

How to get to Sooke from Victoria?

Drive the scenic West Coast Highway 14 to Sooke from Victoria. It takes about 40-50 minutes.

You can also bike along the Galloping Goose Regional Trail – which definitely takes more than 50 minutes.

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