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Sooke

The one-of-a-kind, ocean-side village of Sooke (located on the south side of Vancouver Island) is a welcomed vacation from the busy lifestyle of the neighbouring city of Victoria. Sooke’s rural atmosphere gives the comfort of city life without the traffic. This area has been a thriving Coast Salish settlement for centuries. Living alongside a salmon river, the T’sou-ke peoples thrived in an area where seafood was in abundance, along with West Coast food, such as game and berries that could be harvested in the forests.

Fast Facts

Population

10,436

Location: Sooke is located 45 km passed Victoria on the coast of Vancouver Island, a short 40-minute drive along the scenic West Coast Highway 14.

Scenic Coastline: Sooke is the beginning of the scenic West Coast Road (Highway 14), a beautiful coastal drive into Port Renfrew, and is the starting point for the world-famous West Coast Trail. This is one of the Island’s most astonishing drives, leading through coastal rain forest along the rocky shores, past award-winning B&B’s and seaside cafes, leading gracefully to breathtaking beaches.

Pacific Marine Circle Tour

Explore the historic West Coast of Vancouver Island with the Pacific Marine Circle Tour. Take the wilderness route, tracing the coastline from Victoria into Sooke and Port Renfrew, continuing into the gorgeous Cowichan Valley. The route eventually loops back down the Trans-Canada Highway through Duncan, and back to Victoria.

Sooke Regional Museum

This is a great way to learn about the history of Sooke’s community. Moss Cottage (built in the 1860s), is located near the museum. Gander around the museum to learn about Sooke’s fishing history and fascinating First Nations culture.

ATV’s, Off road vehicles

Locals enjoy the backcountry recreation with 4X4s, quads, ATVs, and dirt bikes, as there are countless areas of backcountry to explore. North Sooke is home to hundreds of kilometers of logging roads that lead through the Rural Resource Lands of the Juan de Fuca electoral area, giving access to several community lakes and small reservoirs. Bear Creek and Diversion reservoirs are also popular destinations in Sooke.

Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is a popular and fast-growing sport British Columbia, and Sooke is quickly establishing itself as a destination with beautiful trails for all skill levels. The popular Galloping Goose Regional Trail (Trans-Canada Trail) leads cyclists, hikers and joggers through Sooke. Many locals enjoy riding the Galloping Goose and spending the afternoon at restaurants along the way.

 More challenging rides can be found near the end of Harbourview Road. Shields Lake loop is a 25 km (16 miles) bike ride to Shields Lake, passing the waterfall and Charters River, then back to Harbourview Road.

Things to Do in Sooke


Sooke Country Market

Pick out organic vegetables, flowers, homemade jams, and children’s activities at the Sooke Country Market, happening every Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm (May through September). The market is located on Otter Point Road.


Festivals and Events:

A popular annual event in Sooke is Canada Day (July 1). One of the festivities includes the logger sports show! Sooke’s festivals and events usually take place year round, though peak times are from May to September. Sooke River Music Festival and the Sooke Bluesgrass Festival are some of Sooke’s largest musical festivals.


Salmon Spawning

Learn about the importance of salmon runs and how critical the protection of salmon habitat is from the Charters River Interpretive Centre and demonstration hatchery. You can find the salmon interpretive center at 2895 Sooke River Road. Over a dozen rivers and creeks in the Sooke area can benefit greatly from restoring and rehabilitating the salmon habitat.


Art Shows

Sooke is home to a popular Vancouver Island art show that features pieces created by countless acclaimed artists. Each year, artists lend the opportunity for onlookers to view their beautiful artwork during the Sooke Studio Tour.


Race Rocks Ecological Reserve

Blanketing the small islands around Sooke, the plankton density at Race Rocks Ecological Reserve attracts marine mammals looking to feast on the organisms. This makes for a thrilling scuba diving adventure. You can only access Race Rocks Ecological Reserve by boat; marine eco tours are offered out of Victoria and Sooke. Please note: collecting marine life of any kind and/or fishing is not permitted within the protected area.

Outdoor Activities

Kayaking

Looking for a marine experience that’s otherworldly and thrilling? The waters outside of Vancouver Island allow for a dangerously gripping kayak experience. If you’ve only dabbled in paddling through sheltered sea passages, be prepared for a wild ride. Although the waters can be dangerous, if you carefully plan your trip in the summer months, you can experience the well-behaved side of the Pacific Ocean. The ocean route between Port Renfrew and Sooke can be paddled in the summer, but prepare for a long day. For a less intense experience, you can opt for a partial exploration of the coast in your kayak outing.

Golfing

Golfers can enjoy the 9-hole John Phillips Memorial Golf Course that’s welcome to the public. Tour all the nearby golf courses such as Olympic View Golf Club, Metchosin Golf Course, Bear Mountain Golf and Country Club, and Royal Colwood Golf Club.

Galloping Goose Trail

The Galloping Goose is a diverse trail that’s fit for virtually all travel activities. The ‘Goose’ includes over 100 km of trails that weave through the communities of Colwood, Metchosin, Langford, Saanich, and Sooke, leading all the way into Victoria. The Galloping Goose can even guide you through the Saanich Peninsula to the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal (Sidney). Many tourists and locals prefer to explore the rural part of the Goose that runs from Roche Cove Regional Park through to the Sooke Potholes.

Juan de Fuca Marine Trail 

Open since 1995, The Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is often seen as an alternative to the world-renowned West Coast Trail. The Juan de Fuca trail starts at China Beach, and is a challenging yet accessible hike along the ocean’s coast that guides you through mystical Botanical Beach. This trail is considered ambitious, so be prepared for a day of heart pumping, wilderness hiking.

Kludahk Forest Recreation Trails

The trailheads of the Kludahk Forest Recreation Trails are located west end of the Galloping Goose Trail in Sooke, and follows 30 km’s along the San Juan Ridge. The trail is made up of old logging roads through the Jordan Meadows, that’s painted with dense fields of lilies and blueberries. There are five public cabins located along the trail for day-hikers that seek shelter.

Point no Point Resort

Point no Point is a cabin resort that was established in the 1950’s in French Beach Provincial Park. Point no Point is filled with rich history and astonishing views of orca pods, gray whales, humpback whales, and otters. The resort can be accessed approximately 3.5 km north of French Beach Provincial Park.

China Beach

Take to exploring a hidden waterfall and quick rainforest trails at China Beach Campground, west of Jordan River. China Beach is the perfect daytime location for family outings, and is located in the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park.

Zip Line

Are you ready for adventure? Immerse yourself into the life of an eagle by soaring over the treetops of Sooke by zip line. There are 8 zip line crossings and two suspension bridges at Sooke Hills. You can check out the Sooke Visitor center to learn more.

Hiking and Provincial Parks


Sooke Potholes Regional Park

Sooke has always been a popular tourist haven, with incredible natural attractions such as Sooke Potholes Regional Park and Whiffin Spit Park. Visitors and locals frequently gather information about Sooke’s history from the Sooke Regional Museum and Visitor Centre.

The area has greatly increased in popularity, partly because it makes the perfect base to begin tours of the area’s unforgettable wilderness, such as the West Coast Trail and the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park (Juan de Fuca Marine Trail).


East Sooke Regional Park

Rural east Sooke is home to the 3512-acre East Sooke Regional Park. It is one of the more spectacular parks in the area and attracts those looking for challenging hikes in a wilderness setting. The 10 km (6 mile) Coast Trail takes you through dense forest, along picturesque windswept bluffs, and down to the ocean’s shore.


Matheson Lake Regional Park 

Matheson Lake Regional Park is positioned at the base of Mount Matheson in Metchosin. The park is a sheltered and serine paddling destination that’s perfect for someone who is seeking peaceful wilderness. To get there, go from Hwy 17 and follow through the Rocky Point Road entrance. Launching your hand-carried boat is easy with the short walk from the parking lot to the beach. Take off in your canoe to examine the small islands and creatures that complete the lake.


Roche Cove Regional Park 

Neighbouring Matheson Lake Park, Roche Cove Regional Park boasts natural attractions like a remote cove near the Sooke Basin, a selection of calming beaches, and forested trails. Whether in the mood for a peaceful walk or an energetic hike, the selection trails can provide you with relaxation and exercise.


French Beach Provincial Park

Families can enjoy the recreational area at French Beach Provincial Park that’s suitable for all ages. The beach, located off Hwy 14, is the perfect place for your family to beachcomb, swim, enjoy a picnic, and admire wildlife. The beach is nicely protected from the oceanic waves from the Olympic Peninsula, and you can sometimes spot gray whales feeding in the water!

History & Climate

The name Sooke derives from the T’sou-ke First Nation and it’s quite possible that it represents a stickle-back fish found in Sooke River. The T’sou-ke First Nation has built and maintained a long-lasting legacy that has proven valuable to the community and enriches locals to this day.

Some of the mildest weather in western Canada is found in Sooke. The summer months are dry and warm, and the winter months can be wet while remaining quite mild. Visitors from around the globe are eager to witness the natural and unspoiled beauty of the rugged west coast of Vancouver Island.

The southwestern end of Sooke is considered to be as sharp as glass, so much so that Point no Point (as mentioned above) can only be seen from certain angles. The shoreline runs from Point no Point, sweeping into Juan de Fuca Point.

Additional Info

Jordan River’s logging community has excellent views of the ocean and is located west of Sooke. Take Hwy 14 to Jordan River before it starts to go up the San Juan Ridge.

The communities of Metchosin, Langford and Colwood are located to the east of Sooke. These communities are rural and residential areas, considered a part of Greater Victoria. These areas offer many parks, beaches and golf courses to explore.