Located just outside of Port Renfrew on the northern tip of Juan de Fuca Provincial Park. A hike down a picturesque path through ancient forests to tidal pools teeming with marine life.
At low tide, you’ll discover tidal pools with sea urchins, starfish, fish, and even octopus have been spotted in the sandstone tide pools.
The 3-kilometre trail has some incredible sites in store for you. I’m sure you’ve heard of the first on the list, but you may be unaware of our second and third experiences to check out when visiting one of the most unique spots at this South Vancouver Island destination.
Once you make it to Botanical Beach just off the trail, head to the right for the best aerial/drone photos. The tide pools are grouped together and are usually under an inch of water. With the hard edges and the sandstone rock, photos from the air or the nearby rocks look fantastic.
Head to the left to find even more tide pools packed with sea life. You will find one pool after another great for dipping a GoPro or getting close up and personal with the amazing marine life.
You will find a whimsical forest on the trail between the two beaches. As the trail narrows and you climb over roots and mud puddles, there are two small sections of the forest where you can spot twisted trees and spooky forests great for photos. You can’t miss the tree right on the trail that makes a complete loop with its trunk.
Take the time to look down. It’s easy to stroll along the bay, ignoring the river of shale rock that runs beneath your feet. The quarts’ veins disrupted the current as it was forced to the surface over millions of years.
As you explore the large rock at the heart of Botany Bay, you’ll come across intriguing stone slabs. Their arrangement makes it easy to think they were intentionally placed to create the curved rock foundation.
When To Visit:
A great stop all year round, but visiting with a low tide of 1.2 metres or less is best and safest for viewing tide pools. An excellent website for local tides Tidechart.com
Pit toilets and outhouses along the trail loop.
Picnic tables are located in the parking lot.
As of August 2023 there is cell coverage for Shaw and Rogers users, but as for Telus and Bell customers, the service is not great, most likely reaching American towers.
There’s plenty of parking, but the parking lot becomes rather congested on the weekend at low tide and fills up quickly. There should be enough room for larger vehicles during the week but it would be pretty tough to find room for a motorhome or trailer.
Trail to Botany Bay:
There are two trail accesses in the parking lot. The first access has pit toilets and is the quickest way down to Botany Bay. Hedding down the first 600 metres, the trail is wide, well maintained, gravelled and can have a grade of 11% in spots. At the bottom, you will find another outhouse. As you walk another 100 meters to the Botany Bay staircase access point, you will notice the path becomes more uneven, muddier, and can be narrow in spots from the outhouse on.
Trail to Botanical Beach:
The second trail entrance from the parking lot is the shortest route to Botanical Beach. You will find the wide downhill path, gravelled and easy to walk to the beach with a grade of 10% in spots.
Botanical Beach to Botany Bay:
We highly recommend completing the loop between Botanical Beach and Botany Bay. You will find the trail muddier between the two beaches, with narrow sections and many exposed roots. You might even have to balance on a log or two to get over puddles. But the unique corkscrew-shaped trees, the rocky beaches you can access from the trail and listening to the crashing waves will make your visit more memorable.
If the tide is low, it’s possible to take the shore from Botanical Beach to Botany Bay but be prepared to do some scrambling. It’s not an easy walk.
As you reach the beach, you will find the famous tide pools in either direction. Head left, down the pebble beach, notice a small ridge only a couple of feet high, climb up and continue down the shoreline, getting closer to the water. You can’t miss the small and large tide pools filled with sea life, each different from the last. Be careful the wet seaweed can be slippery, and watch your step keeping the sealife undisturbed.
Peering in, you will be amazed by the brightly coloured life living in the cracks and burrowed holes. Each window into marine life offers new and exciting plants and animals. There isn’t another place like this on Vancouver Island, maybe the world. However, if you are looking for another spot to explore with fewer people try Parkinson Beach, it’s not too far and you will find some wonderful tide pools similar to the ones at Botanical.
Once you take in the alien landscape, head back along the beach and past the trail toward the point. Just past the sandstone cliffs, you will find more unique tide pools.
There aren’t many tide pools in Botany Bay, but what it lacks in sea life is made up with its pebble beach encircled by distinctive rock formations formed millions of years ago when the earth moved and created these waves of stones we walk on today.
Botany Bay is a great spot to sit, take in the sun and explore.
Botanical Beach and Botany Bay are the perfect beaches to top off the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park. They offer a unique look into marine biology and geology in the area. Taking the time to complete the loop should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Distance-wise, Botanical Beach is just over 100km from Victoria, but be prepared for narrow, windy, and rough roads, especially as you get closer to Port Renfrew.
Give yourself two hours of drive time, longer if you want to stop at one of the great stops along the way. The drive is fantastic and unique in itself.
Take Highway 14 (West Coast Road) all the way to the small town of Port Renfrew. As you reach town, West Coast Road will change into Parkinson Road, then turn left onto Cerantes Rd. Follow it until the end into the parking lot.
How long of a walk is it to Botanical Beach?
The quickest way from the parking lot to the beach is 1k one way. Or you can make the complete loop and explore Botany Bay 2.9km loop.
Is Botanical Beach Open?
Botanical Beach Park is open all year round, night and day. The gates rarely close except in rare circumstances.
When Is Low Tide?
An excellent website for tides – Tide Forcast
Are dogs allowed on Botanical Beach?
Yes, but they should be kept on a leash and picked up after.
Are There Bike Racks at Botanical Beach?
No, there are picnic tables and outhouses, but no bike racks.
Did we miss something?
Have more to add?
We love Vancouver Island and want to keep the natural beauty. Please respect the places you visit and pack out what you pack in and leave the area better than when you arrived. We all know how much trash can spoil an experience and the environment, so please help us keep it clean!
Tide and Seasonal Safety:
Changing seasons and tides can have a drastic effect on most locations on Vancouver Island. Please be cautious as the information in this post may vary depending on the time of year and weather. Make sure to check for current weather and tide information before you make your journey!
When visiting the beach, it’s essential to pay attention and stay safe! Please be cautious walking on the shore during high tide. At this time, some areas may not be accessible. Click here for the tides in your area. Be aware of ocean currents before swimming, paddle boarding or kayaking.
We would like to acknowledge the land we appreciate daily within the 50 First Nations that make up the traditional territories of the Coast Salish, Nuu chah nulth, and Kwakiutl–the first peoples of Vancouver Island .
The information on this website should not be taken as accurate, complete or up-to-date. Please check and look into the information yourself. We do not assume any liabilities for the use of this information. It is unreasonable to rely solely upon the information from this website.