We stumbled upon Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park when searching for some nice place on the coast near Victoria, and the main expectation was being suitable for hanging out with a toddler. Witty’s Lagoon delivered that and more!
It’s only about a 30 minutes drive from Victoria, and it’s quite a diverse shoreline park with woodlands, marshland, a freshwater creek, a waterfall, a sandy beach and a rocky headland. It has a rich bird life, with more than 160 species of birds, and harbor seals, sea lions and sea otters can often be spotted near the rocky headland. It offers about 5 km of trails, just the perfect distance for families with small kids. Also, it offers excitement for kids and adults alike.
Check out more fascinating places to visit on Vancouver Island:
Sitting Lady Falls
The first surprise in the park was Sitting Lady Falls, a thunderous cascade surrounded by the typical West Coast greenery. It’s not a particularly famous waterfall, but we found it very pretty. It also matters that we visited it in April when it was truly roaring after the heavy rains. They say it could be a bit disappointing in the summer.
The Sitting Lady Falls viewing platform is about 300 meters walk from the main parking lot (the one by the Nature Centre). You start walking downhill, but instead of crossing Bilston Creek, you turn the opposite way. If you cross the small wooden bridge over Bilston Creek, you can look down on the waterfall, but the viewing platform that offers the best frontal view is opposite of the bridge. So turn left, follow the Lagoon Trail and you’ll soon notice the wooden platform with a bench and the stunning view.
After the nice detour to Sitting Lady Falls, return to the wooden bridge, cross it and walk to Witty’s Beach on the Lagoon Trail.
The lagoon and the salt marsh
The Lagoon Trail offers glimpses of Witty’s Lagoon where fresh water meets salt water. The water is calm and shallow, a nursery for animals that tolerate the mixture of fresh and salt water and home for many bird species. It borders the salt marsh, and whether it has connection to the ocean or not depends on the tide.
This beach trail is a 1.2 km forest path, relatively easy, but often very muddy after the rains. Huge arbutus trees with their orange branches, often extending parallel to the ground, look like an art exhibition. Yes, the West Coast makes you realize that trees can be impressive!
Witty’s Beach is one of the few perfectly sandy beaches on Vancouver Island. It barely exists at high tide, and it stretches out for several hundred meters at low tide. One might call the sight of the beach a bit ugly at low tide, but my son enjoyed running around in the shallow ponds, looking for crabs under the large rocks, and I also found the sand dunes and the tidal pools interesting. You can also enjoy views of nearby small rocky islands and the Olympic Mountains in Washington state in the distance. On a clear day you might even see the Race Rocks Lighthouse, which is the southernmost point of British Columbia.
It’s definitely a great place for kids to play in the shallow water in the warmer months. There are picnic benches behind the beach, and it’s a pleasant place to spend a sunny day.
Tower Point, a scenic rocky headland
When it comes to my favorite spot in Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park, Sitting Lady Falls and Tower Point are the real competitors. Tower Point is a scenic rocky headland which can be accessed from Witty’s Beach at low tide, or you can continue on the Lagoon Trail past Sitting Lady Falls all the way to Tower Point.
You can also use the Tower Point park entrance at high tide. This entrance is a few minutes drive from the main parking lot, the only challenge is the limited number of parking spots. So walk there instead of driving if you can.
If you need to drive, take Metchosin Road, then turn left on Duke Road. The Tower Point entrance can be accessed from Olympic View Drive. Use the dedicated parking area (click here for directions), parking on the street is for residents only.
A coastal trail runs around the headland, with several viewpoints and picnic benches. You find small pebbly beaches and tidal pools along the way, and seals or sea otters can often be spotted from the shore. We saw a sea otter, happily swimming on his back.
Useful things to know before you visit Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park
How to get to Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park?
If you are driving from downtown Victoria, it takes about 30 minutes to reach the park, and most of the drive is through farmlands. It’s possible to reach Witty’s Lagoon by public transport, but it takes a lot longer, about 1.5 hours. You need to take two buses: #50 Langford and #54 Metchosin.
Where to check Witty’s Lagoon tide conditions?
Here you can find the tide times for Metchosin where the park is located. By the way, this page is a great resource to check any tide times anywhere in Canada.
Which is the best time to visit Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park?
Any time of the year could be great. Summer is the best time to swim or wade at the beach. The grassy meadows on the Tower Point headland are full of wildflowers in spring. Sitting Lady Falls is the most spectacular in winter and spring. Winter temperatures are cool, but still suitable for hiking or walking as winter on the coast is mild.
Is the park dog-friendly?
Dogs are allowed off-leash (but under control!) on the trails and on the beach, except for the summer months. Between June 1 and September 15, dogs are not allowed on Witty’s Beach, only to pass through the beach area on a leash.
Can you swim at Witty’s Beach?
The water is usually calm and suitable for swimming. I mean, if an average July ocean temperature of 17°C (63°F) is suitable for you. Needless to say, it is for many locals.
Is there an entrance fee to the park?
Only national parks have entrance fees in British Columbia, provincial and regional parks are free to the public. However, Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park is a day use park, camping and overnight visit is not allowed.
- Toilets: flush toilets at the Nature Centre, pit toilets at the beach, Whitney Griffiths Point and near Sitting Lady Falls
- Picnic areas: picnic benches at the beach and at Tower Point
- Parking lots: main parking at the Nature Centre (this is the main entrance), small gravel parking at Tower Point
Witty’s Lagoon map
Click on the picture to see the sights of the park on an interactive map:
Other parks to visit nearby
Sooke Potholes Provincial Park is a 30 minutes drive from Witty’s Lagoon, and it’s another great family-friendly park that offers a surprising diversity: canyon views, rapids and waterfalls (Todd Creek Falls and Mary Vine Creek waterfall), pools, rushing creeks. The short trail along the canyon is very picturesque, and you can continue hiking along the creek, venturing to lakes and waterfalls. Swimming holes are popular in the summer, but don’t expect pleasant temperatures, the water is ice cold! The pools are the prettiest in summer, anyway, and they can disappear if the water level is too high.
Goldstream Provincial Park is also about a half an hour drive, only in another direction. The main highlight is Niagara Falls (not the world famous one, but still nice), but you can find other short trails and small waterfalls in the park.
East Sooke Regional Park is our favorite park in the southern region of Vancouver Island. Unlike Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, the Coast Trail of East Sooke can be done as a day hike, the elevation change is much less, and you get beautiful ocean vistas almost all the way. (Dense forest often blocks ocean views on the Juan de Fuca Trail.) It’s one of the best coastal trails in British Columbia!