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 Home > Travel BC > BC Cities and Towns > The Islands  > Port Renfrew

Port Renfrew
Port Renfrew is located 74 km (46 miles) north of Sooke on Hwy 14, the West Coast Hwy. The drive will generally take you about two to three hours from Victoria depending on the weather.

Very Scenic Drive
You will find the drive very scenic as it follows the coastline. There are some great panoramic views of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State and Juan de Fuca Strait, especially near Gordons Beach, French Beach and Jordan River.

Famous 'Lifesaving Trail'
Port Renfrew is very historical for its role as being at the southern end of the famous 'lifesaving trail' called the West Coast Trail. This trail helped save many a stranded sailor whose ship was wrecked along British Columbia's rugged and treacherous coastline.

Pacific Rim National Park
The West Coast Trail now serves as a world-class hike that will take you from Port Renfrew to Bamfield in Pacific Rim National Park. This incredible hike is 77 km (48 miles) long and will take you approximately 5-7 days to complete.

Permit Required
You will need a Parks Canada permit if you want to hike the trail as there is a limit on the usage for ecological reasons. Online booking reservations and permit can be made through the Parks Canada website or by telephoning 1-800-435-5622.

Abundant Sea Life
Port Renfrew is well known for the abundant sea life that exists close by and along the beaches up and down the coast. A good way for you to experience this is to take advantage of the nearby trails. One trail that only requires a short walk (15-20 min) is the trail into Botanical Beach. To get here, once at the Port Renfrew Hotel, take the Botanical Beach Road approximately one hour to the parking lot.

Botanical Beach
Botanical Beach was first established as a marine research station by the University of Minnesota in 1900. Now Botanical Beach is part of the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park and can give you access to a wide array of tidal life that live in the various geological formations. Various colonies of sea life are found throughout eroded sandstone coastline shelves.

Low Tide
The best time for you to visit is during a low tide so check the tide schedule. Remember this is the West Coast and sometimes it can be dangerous and rainy. Please take caution especially near the blowholes and against the sandstone shoreline. Also it is very important for you to watch your children to avoid accidents.

Incredible Fishing
Port Renfrew has some incredible fishing in and around the whole area. There are various fish runs throughout the year giving you lots of opportunity when you visit. The annual Coho run is absolutely unbelievable with most people limiting out in a very short time. Halibut fishing is also very popular off the banks just west of Port Renfrew.

Take Warning
A word of warning - sometimes the fog comes in so fast and your vision all of a sudden can become nil. Make sure your GPS or compass is in good working condition, your boat seaworthy, take lots of fuel and make sure you always check the weather conditions. It sometimes can take a long time to get back to the marina if the weather changes quickly, so be prepared.

Port Renfrew Marina & R.V. Park
For marine services and boat fuel there is the Port Renfrew Marina & R.V. Park. The marina and campground is located past the First Nation settlement over the Deering Bridge.

Pacheedaht First Nations
There is also another boat launch available at Port Renfrew. It is situated in the Pacheedaht First Nations near the start of the West Coast Trail. If you are going on the West Coast Trail this is where you can catch the ferry to the start of the trail. Keep an eye out for the signs that lead you to the bridge that goes over the San Juan River. The ferry dock is about 1.6 km (1 mile) past the end of the bridge.

Beautiful Campground
The Pacheedaht have an exceptionally nice campground located near the start of the West Coast Trail. The Pacheedaht First Nation Campground is situated on a 2 km beach which stretches from Harris Cove to the San Juan River. The rates are good, lots of spaces near the ocean available, close to the ferry, next to the West Coast Trail Information Centre and there is an area with Native crafts and espresso bar.

Tourist Services
Port Renfrew has a number of places to eat if you happen to be hungry. There is the Port Renfrew Hotel and a couple of favourites, the Coastal Kitchen Cafe and Tomi's Home Style Cooking both serving great food. If you need supplies there is a general store containing a liquor outlet. For accommodation there are a number of places including motels and some guest houses. Make sure you have full fuel tank when visiting Port Renfrew because the gas station is now closed with the only place to find fuel for boats and possibly vehicles in a pinch is at marina which is open from April to October.

The Juan de Fuca Trail
For hikers the Juan de Fuca Park also contains a world-class hike requiring no permits. Starting at Botanical Beach the Juan de Fuca Trail takes a southern route to China Beach which is just north of the coastal community of Jordan River. Various beach camps with four access points are set up along the trail providing you with some unforgettable panoramic views of the Juan de Fuca Strait and the Olympic Peninsula.

Bear and Cougars
Remember this is bear and cougar country so please take the usual wildlife precautions.

West Coast Trail
If you are planning to hike the West Coast Trail it is basically divided in half requiring water taxi service from the Dididat Tribe at Nitinat Narrows. Generally speaking, the southern half is a little harder than the northern half. You can start at either Pachena Bay, Port Renfrew or Nitinat. There is a very convenient shuttle service called the West Coast Trail Bus that can be arranged for drop-off and pick up. If you can, try to arrange to go on the M.V. Lady Rose that goes from Bamfield to Port Alberni.

Cowichan Lake Road
For those a little more adventurous, there is also a forest service road that goes from Port Renfrew to Mesachie Lake located near Lake Cowichan. The paved road takes around one hour to do and goes through some active logging areas.

Harris Creek
Travelling from Port Renfrew you will pass Fairy Lake 6 km (4 miles) and Lizard Lake 18.5 km (11.5 miles) both which have Forest Recreation Sites offering you wilderness campgrounds, great trout fishing and nature trails. The road follows Harris Creek where there are a number of swimming holes and small areas along the creek to relax.

John Quinn Trail
There is also some local hikes around Port Renfrew. The John Quinn Trail is located just out of Port Renfrew at power pole 481 towards Jordan River on the West Coast Hwy. The hike is about 4 km long (2.6 miles) and usually takes about 90 minutes for the round trip.

Red Creek Fir
For longer trails a good selection is available but, if you can, try visiting Red Creek Fir the site of Canada's largest standing Douglas fir tree. You will, however, need a 4x4 and most of the day to travel the 16 km (10 miles) through Red Creek Mainline, which is located 2.5 km (1.5 miles) from town on the West Coast Hwy.

Information on Port Renfrew

Accommodation

Provincial Parks

 

 

Port Renfrew Map
click map for larger image

 

Photo of West Coast Trail
West Coast Trail

 

Beach - Port San Juan Bay
Beach - Port San Juan Bay

 

Pacheedaht Campground
Pacheedaht Campground

 

Coho Salmon Fishing
Coho Salmon Fishing

 

San Juan River
San Juan River

 

Pacheedaht Campground
Pacheedaht Campground

 

Lizard Lake Recreation Site
Lizard Lake Recreation Site

 

Harris Creek
Harris Creek

 

Harris Creek
Harris Creek Canyon

 
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