When visiting Victoria, a really nice day trip is out to Port Renfrew – there you’ll find a wonderful place to explore, particularly at low tide – Botanical Beach. The drive to Botanical Beach is approximately 115 kms (72 miles) and will take you approximately 2 hours. Plan a little more time though, as there are lots of things to see and do on your way there. See our post on the Pacific Marine Circle Drive for more information.
The Botanical Beach parking lot is the western terminus of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, located at Kilometre 47. This parking lot provides access to nearby Botany Bay and Botanical Beach itself. You will find visitor information, picnic tables and pit toilets here as well.
Botanical Beach affords visitors with access to uniquely rich tide pools and shoreline trails with fantastic geological features. The extensive variety of marine flora and fauna in this colourful intertidal zone includes red, purple and orange starfish and sea urchins, white gooseneck barnacles, blue mussels and green sea anemones and sea cucumbers. Coralline algae, periwinkles, chitons and sea stars can also be seen at Botanical Beach.
The region is so biologically significant that the University of Minnesota installed the first marine research station in the Pacific Northwest at Botanical Beach in 1901. Since then, the area has been used for research by a number of universities in BC and Washington.
Planning Your Trip to Botanical Beach
To make the most of your visit to Botanical Beach you need to plan for low tides, the lower the better. A low tide of 1.2 metres or less is best. Use the Canadian Tide Tables “Port Renfrew” section. Remember to add one hour to the listed tidal times during March to November as Daylight Savings Time is in effect.
The impact of human activity on the intertidal area is a real concern at Botanical Beach. When visiting, please look in the tide pools only – do not touch the marine life. Do not remove, collect or disturb any tide pool life, shells, plants, flowers, kelp, etc. – they are all part of a vulnerable ecosystem that Botanical Beach was established to protect. Even touching the water in a tide pool with sunscreen on your hands can create an “oil slick” that could kill the vulnerable creatures in this sensitive ecosystem. Photographs make great souvenirs.
The Botanical Beach day-use area offers parking, pit toilets, visitor information and picnic areas. While hiking on the Juan de Fuca Trail, cars can be left overnight in the Botanical Beach parking lot. Please do not leave anything of value in your vehicle.
Please note that no camping or fires are allowed in this section of the park.
For more information on the services, including restaurants, accommodations, etc, available in Port Renfrew see our post: Port Renfrew