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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Remember this is bear and cougar country so please take the usual
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
on Port Renfrew