Visiting one (or more) of the beaches along the Juan de Fuca coast on Vancouver Island is the perfect way to spend a day trip from Victoria. While they each have unique draws (e.g. Mystic Beach starts with a great hike through the forest, Botanical is known for its tide pools and rock formations), they’re also similar enough that you could spend the day at any one of them without fear of missing out. Heads up: if you have a rental car, Sombrio may not be the best choice for you! Read on. Here’s what you need to know if you’re planning to head to Sombrio Beach for the day:Continue reading “Sombrio Beach: Day Trip from Victoria”
We spent a relaxing anniversary weekend in Tofino a couple years ago, and top of our list was visiting Hot Springs Cove. It’s the place to go for a relaxing few hours’ dip in some natural, spring-fed hot pools right by the ocean! Considering how special they are, they’re a little tricky to get to. Here’s how to do it, and what to expect:
The hot springs are only reachable by boat and float plane, so booking a day tour was the best option for us (uncomplicated = relaxing). Plus, since we visited in the off-season, rates were reduced! We went with Ocean Outfitters, and had a great experience.
The boat ride to the hot springs technically only takes about an hour, but the trip doubles as a wildlife viewing tour. In the fall/winter, there isn’t much in the way of whale-viewing, although we did see a grey whale! There are always plenty of seals and sea lions en route, but the big one for me was SEA OTTERS! We kept passing groups of blobs floating nearby. I thought it was bull kelp, but it was SO MUCH BETTER! (Btw the captain made it clear that they are *not* holding hands because they’re in love! </3) Depending on the season, you can also see whales, bears, and puffins.
The ride is rocky!! Bring meds if you’re prone to sea sickness, because you’ll probably go via the open ocean in at least one direction for better wildlife spotting.
The boats dock about 2 kms from the hot springs, which leaves you with about a half hour walk to bliss. This is all part of the trip! The mostly flat boardwalk leads you through one of those reliably magnificent Pacific Northwest rainforests. Kyla and I were inspired by NOT having to wear massive backpacks like we had on the Juan de Fuca Trail, so we raced along, eager to warm up!
You’ll know you’ve reached the cove once you smell the sulphur! There’s a covered area at the top of the hot springs where you can store your stuff, as well as two changing stalls. You’ll need to bring your own food and water for the day.
The rocks are slippery, so get low and go slow! Water shoes would work well, too. There are hotter pools near the top, and as you get closer to the ocean, they start to feel more like a warm bath. We climbed past everyone else to the pièce de résistance: the closest pool to the ocean, where we had front row seats to waves crashing against the rocks just a few feet away! Kyla even climbed to a shallow spot that *she claimed* was warm, where she’d get a blast of cold every time the waves came in.
If you have a waterproof camera, I’d recommend bringing that down instead of a phone. (Like, we obviously shouldn’t have brought ours down, but pictures! They were fine but they had to dry out after 2 hours of rain and steam!)
Since we were there on a long weekend, it was busy. Despite all of the people there, it still felt romantic! We visited at the right time of year: hot pools and cool, rainy air were such a cozy combo. After a couple of hours soaking, we felt sooo relaxed (and sooo tired). We hurried back through the forest to meet our boat, and dozed on the way back.
Let me start out by saying that there are waaaay more than 5 things to look forward to at Pride! Last year, I put together a list of as many events as I could find, but this year, the Victoria Pride Society has done that work: check out their events page for a comprehensive list of Pride events in the city!
Other pages to watch for queer events this Pride season (and beyond) are:
- Any of these LGBTQ+ Meetup groups
- Queer News: Victoria and Vancouver Island
- Queer Outdoors – Victoria and Vancouver Island; Queer Climbers of Victoria, BC
- SNAQCS (Cycloadventure Pals)
- Staches and Lashes Collective Events
- Queer Quills Writing Group
These websites have lists and maps of public all-gender/gender neutral washrooms, with accessibility information: guide to public toilets in downtown Victoria; thrones for everyone (Tourism Victoria). I’ll do my best to include any additional accessibility info I can find.
Anyway, scroll those lists and pages for drag, workshops and panels, youth events, nights out, alt pride, outdoor events, and more. Here are the events I’m most looking forward to this year (warning: a few more than 5 may find their way in)!Continue reading “5 Things to Look Forward to at Victoria Pride 2019”
Salt Spring Island has a huge piece of my heart. It’s where Kyla grew up, and the first time I visited I got to meet her family AND their new baby goats. We ate homemade goat cheese, fresh eggs laid by their chickens, and veggies from their substantial garden. I’ve been back over a dozen times since, and every time, I feel like we do something that’s Uniquely Salt Spring(TM).
On the largest of the Southern Gulf Islands between Vancouver Island and the mainland, it doesn’t really matter if you know a local or not. Whether you’re there for the day or staying for a while, you’re almost guaranteed to have a genuine Gulf Island experience on the island home of hippies, farmers, artists and artisans (and summer vacationers).
If you’ve heard of Salt Spring, you probably know about the famous Saturday market; many tourists love it; many locals – understandably – don’t: it clogs up ferries and roads, and brings hordes of people to the island. I personally LOVE the Saturday market: you can sample and buy anything from kale chips to cider, check out local artisan products, and then hang out in the park watching (or joining) free spirits drum and dance. If you’re lucky, you might get to meet Raffi– yes, Raffi, the singer of your childhood faves like Baby Beluga and Down By the Bay! He lives on the island, and he’s often there selling CDs. The market may be on your West Coast bucket list, and in many ways it’s worth the hype!
HOWEVER, I’m here to argue that you can have an incredible time on Salt Spring without seeing the market. If you go on a summer Saturday, you’ll encounter massive crowds, potentially extra sailing waits for the ferry, tricky parking, and you may miss the bulk of what the island has to offer.
No matter what, aim to see MORE than the market. Here are some things to do, see, eat and drink around this magical island:Continue reading “Everything Salt Spring: 20+ Things to Do on Salt Spring Island, Minus the Market”
Last time I visited Tofino, it was a rainy November long weekend. Kyla and I were celebrating an anniversary, and the theme of the trip was to relaaaax and enjoy lots of hygge time without too many plans. That was a fabulous way to spend a weekend there, and you can read more about it here: Hygge Holiday: Tofino Hot Springs and Other Relaxing Things
This month, I had a chance to go back with my parents, and this time it was hot and sunny! Like uncharacteristically HOT; 20+ degrees Celsius made for a totally different Tofino experience!
We were able to fit a lot into just two nights, without it feeling rushed*. Of course, the more time you have, the better. If you plan to surf, you’ll probably want to spend more time there, and if you want to visit the hot springs, you may also want to have at least one more night. If your plan is to do a bit of hiking and beachcombing, soak in some sunsets (or get a little soaked, if it’s rainy season), and eat some tasty food in a place where the views are never less than stunning, it’s the perfect amount of time.
Here are some ideas for three days and two nights in and around this little surf town on the west coast of Vancouver Island:
This is Part 2 of my post about our Oregon road trip; in Part 1 you can find some suggestions for what to do, eat, and drink on a weekend in Portland! (You can also find out how much I freak out about driving… #roadtrippp.)
Day 4: Wine and Dunes: Portland to Florence
By now you probably know that Portland is cool, but byeeee Portland! Today’s the day you get to drive out to the coast with the wind in your h—ohh but actually you have loads of time, may as well make a couple of stops along the way!
Eugene’s right on the route from Portland to Florence, so it’s a great spot for lunch. We needed a cheap food day after PDX, so we opted for scrumptious food truck tacos, but there are loads of options, and even a Voodoo Doughnuts if you were too stuffed to try it in Portland.
Ok now it’s time to drive off to the coas—oooh hang on though, there’s a WINERY route basically ON THE WAY?! Durrrr you are going there! There are lots of wineries to choose from near the Territorial Highway, just off the route between Eugene and Florence. We visited Sweet Cheeks Winery and Sarver Winery to share a tasting at each (had to be responsible, we were driving). Both offered great wines and stunning views of the rolling vineyards.
Or: The Story of How I Overcame My Anxiety/Mild Phobia of Highway Driving with DIY Exposure Therapy (i.e. just driving, no escape) by Splitting an 11 Day Road Trip with My Ever-Patient Girlfriend! JK, I’ll save that riveting story for another time! But suffice it to say, when we planned this trip, I wasn’t ONLY thinking about all the food we were going to eat in Portland and the dramatic coastal landscapes we were going to see, I was also thinking about passing trucks at high speeds on the I-5 while remembering to focus on the MILES, not kilometres, on my speedometer, and lots of other things to do with driving. Obviously, I didn’t die, and I didn’t FEEL like I was going to die for at least MOST of the trip. Plus, it was so nice to have the flexibility to choose where we wanted to go and how long we wanted to stop. In conclusion: successful DIY project, and also: successful road trip.
K so back to Oregon: Here’s a guide to an excellent (IMHO perfect) Oregon road trip, based on a compressed version of our trip (we started in Vancouver*, spent an extra night in Portland, and had to stay the night in Port Angeles on the way home to catch the ferry to Victoria). Next up is the coast!
For a warmer weather itinerary, check out this post: 2 Nights in Tofino.
Kyla and I spent the November long weekend in Tofino, a surf town on western Vancouver Island. I’d only heard amazing things about Tofino since moving out here, and it lived up to the hype!
Lots of people who visit the town choose to enjoy it the active way… surfing, hiking, that kind of thing. While it’s a fantastic place to do both of those things, and while I’ll definitely do more activities next time I go, we went the more…
lazy relaxed route this time! Not only did we need a break, but we were both sick, so you could say that taking it easy was what the doctor ordered. And I mean… it’s not really that hard to chill out in a surf town! Here are 5 relaxing ways to explore Tofino:
Day 4: Payzant Creek (km 40) to Botanical Beach Trailhead (km 47)
Our last day on the trail was a short one: we only had 7kms to go! We woke up to misty treetops, and quickly packed up all of our gear, not minding that it was wet and muddy. Off we went!
Day 3: Chin Beach (km 21) – Payzant Creek (km 40)
This was the day I tried to get eaten by a bear!
Day 3 started out like the others, only a little wetter. We got up early, and headed out towards Little Kuitshe Creek, where we were planning to camp that night.
The hike from Chin Beach to Sombrio Beach started out with some steep ups and downs, similar to the previous day, but this time they didn’t go on forever. There was a flat bit! And a few creek crossings with ropes, but these were fun and we made them look more dramatic in photos than they really were!
Since it had rained the night before, the day brought a new challenge: mud! We’d encountered muddy spots before, but for the most part, we’d been able to manoeuvre around them, using rocks and tree stumps and packed down patches.
But today, we got the gaiters out! We knew we’d packed them for a reason! We couldn’t really avoid trekking through deep mud just east of Sombrio Beach, but at least the gaiters helped keep it out of our shoes. (Unless you have brilliantly designed boots with a breathable mesh front, like mine! Mud for days!)
As we made our way onto Sombrio Beach, we met a woman who told us that there was a bear on the beach! “Don’t worry,” she informed us, “it’s a local, it’s friendly, and it won’t come too close”. We were delighted to see the black bear, looking for snacks on some rocks in the water.
We stood watching – at a very safe distance, with other campers – and I decided that this would be a good time for lunch. “Not here!” Kyla whispered, her expression incredulous, as she gestured towards the bear. “Oh, duh! Silly me!” I laughed, taking a half-eaten Cliff Bar out of my backpack. “I just needed a quick snack though,” I explained, shoving the remainder of the bar into my face. She shook her head at me, as we both continued snapping shots of the gorgeous bear.
Day 2: Bear Beach (km 9) to Chin Beach (km 21)
Read about Day 1 here.
The 12 kilometres between Bear and Chin beaches are some of the hardest on the Juan de Fuca trail; almost the entire section is a series of steep ups and downs! We started out early, after filling our bellies with oatmeal and chocolate.
Kyla and I recently spent 4 days hiking the Juan de Fuca trail, a 47km coastal rainforest hike on Vancouver Island’s southwest coast. It was really hard! (Especially for an inexperienced hiker with minimal training, oops!) Lots of steep ups and downs, muddy sections, and tricky creek crossings which required creative, acrobatic moves while wearing a gigantic backpack! That said, it was absolutely achievable, and SO worth it! The trail offered spectacular ocean views and wildlife sightings, great nights of camping on beaches, and lots of hilarity. It was exhilarating to finish, and I’m still riding that high, feeling proud of what we accomplished. (Proud enough to earn a break from multi-day hiking for a while!)
Here’s the first post from my rundown of the trail (with occasional comments from Kyla!), with lots of pictures. Continue reading “Juan de Fuca Trail Day 1: China Beach to Bear Beach”
Last month I got invited to join Kyla and her family for a long weekend of camping on Hornby Island (I’ll ‘b’ careful not to misspell it). We spent five days there, so I was prepared for lots of lazing around, which – don’t get me wrong! – is a fantastic way to spend a vacation. What I didn’t realize was that there’s tons to do and see there! So while the island’s laid-back vibe meant plenty of recharge time, it was balanced out with lots of time exploring cute spots in town, gorgeous beaches and coastal bluffs, and checking out the bottom of many glasses of mead! Here are 5 suggestions for things to see and do while on Hornby Island:
Kyla and I spent a long weekend camping on Mayne Island last month and it was badass! Mayne is one of the Southern Gulf Islands, which sit in the Georgia Strait between Vancouver Island and Vancouver/mainland BC, and are home primarily to hippies, artists, and retirees (based on a mix of casual observation, anecdotal evidence, and census data). These quiet little islands can’t really be the site of much badassery, right? WRONG! (No, you’re right, but I lead a pretty tame life, so humour me with this one!)
Here are some reasons why our weekend rocked, and tips so that you can have a badass-as-you-can-get-in-the-Gulf-Islands weekend too: