The Pacific Marine Circle Route is 255km long road trip that gives travelers a real taste of West Coast living, panoramic views, culture and recreation wineries, artisans and quaint shops in the unique coastal communities of southern Vancouver Island.
This is an epic road trip adventure with amazing, breathtaking stops of interest you don’t want to miss! Start your day early—really early—for a great day-trip from just about everywhere on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Better yet, plan a 2 to 4-day getaway so you can experience as much as possible.
• A self-guided or guided tour will take you west towards Sooke along the west coast of Vancouver Island on Highway 14. Stop for a bite of breakfast and gas up in Sooke.
• Take a rest stop at one of Vancouver Island’s most popular beach havens along the way: French Beach, Jordan River, China and Mystic Beaches, and surf-city Sombrio Beach.
• Then continue on your way toward Port Renfrew, where there is a great pub to grab a bite to eat. If you have the time, Botanical Beach is a must-see!.
• It takes just over an hour to get to Port Renfrew, so pick your favourite playlist and get your camera ready. Once a logging road, this winding, scenic route is all gorgeous panoramic views of Lake Cowichan’s backcountry. Now, along this completely paved, active logging road, you’ll come across Fairy and Lizard Lakes, as well as a lush coastal rain forest.
• Situated along the San Juan River off the Pacific Marine Circle Route and farther afield from Port Renfrew, is the incredible Red Creek Fir (see map). It stands 73.8 metres high and is 12.5 metres in circumference. There aren’t any road signs to point it out, so use your odometer to pinpoint the exact location!
• About 25km north-east of Port Renfrew, just a short distance from the road, rests the giant Harris Creek Spruce Tree. It can be found on the right side of the road 8 km past Lizard Lake while heading toward Lake Cowichan, and is marked by a small sign.
• Once over the bridge at the San Juan River, you’ll head east on Pacific Marine Road all the way through the mountains to Lake Cowichan. In Lake Cowichan, one of the island’s best kept secrets is an epic adventure you can take on an inner tube down the Cowichan River. It’s a 2.5-hour lazy river ride down one of the most beautiful places on earth.
• From here you can choose to stay on Hwy 1, traveling through Duncan for some great shopping and markets, and through the Cowichan Valley for wineries before moving onwards back to Victoria.