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Surfing, 10 Minute Stop

Where to next on Vancouver Island: Jordan River

•  Easy
•  Jordan River
Time:
10 Min+
Length:
.5km

Activity:

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Accessibility:

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Jordan River BC | Surfing Camping and Outdoor Coffee Stop

Jordan River is one of the most popular surf spots on Southern Vancouver Island, making it a popular place for local cold-water South Island surfers to make the drive up and take in an afternoon of surfing. Stop in at the cafe and enjoy the skills of cold water surfing all year round.

Don't Get Lost — Stay Safe

Woman cold water surfing on the Juan de Fuca in Jordan River Vancouver IslandTucked away on Vancouver Island along Route 14, between Sooke and Port Renfrew, is a quaint little stop known as Jordan River. Once a busy little town populated by the power station, mining and the lumber industry.

Now, a surfing cove with a cute coffee stop, a couple of campgrounds and Air BnBs. Don’t blink; you might miss it. This little beach has a lot of history, and unlike most beaches in the area, the busiest season happens to be in winter, when the surf is at it’s peak.

When heading to one of the coastal beaches or just out for a drive, Jordan River is a wonderful stopping point for coffee and to watch surfing.

Helpful links:

Amenities: Pit toilets at the Jordan River Campground and at Sandcut Beach Parking lot

Cell Coverage: As of August 2023 there is cell coverage for Shaw and Rogers users but as for Telus and Bell users the service is not great, most likely reaching American towers.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can you Swim at Jordan River BC?

Yes, you can, but it’s not an ideal swimming location. The beaches are not that great for walking, and there are some currents you want to be aware of. It’s a better surfing beach than a swimming beach. French Beach or China Beach might be better options for swimming.

Can you camp at Jordan River BC?

Yes, there are two campgrounds. Jordan River Campground and The Ledge Tenting Campground. They run as first come, first serve and have fire pits with ocean view sites.  Beach camping is not allowed.

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Surfing Jordan River, Vancouver Island

Jordan River might not be a destination spot like Tofino, but it still has much to offer the surfing community. Its proximity to Victoria, consistent winter waves and easy access off the road making Jorand River one of the best places to surf on South Vancouver Island.

Jordan River local surfing breaks featured on a display in the shape of a surfboard located at the day use areaSurfing in Jordan requires a wetsuit all year long as the water temperature ranges from 6°C to 14°C. The most consistent and most significant swells are during the cooler seasons, from October to April. During the winter months, The air temperature drops, so neoprene boots, gloves, and hoods are a must.

Jordan River has a rocky bottom, and the currents can be strong, so be aware of the breaks that suit your skills. Jordan River is a small local area that has seen more tourist and visitor traffic over the last few years; respect for other surfers is a must, and be prepared by checking the surf report.

Day Use Area

There are three official parking areas for vising and surfing. As you make your way from Victoria, you will come down the hill and as the trees open up you will first notice a side road and some parking on the left along the beach. This is a great spot to walk along the beach and you can follow the shore walk all the way to Sandcut Beach.

Sewers Parking – the next parking lot has the best access to the Sewers Break. Considered intermediate to expert, the parking lot has room for a handful of cars and no amenities.

Warm up fire pit with surfboard bench and picnic table on the beach at Jordan River south Vancouver IslandDayuse Parking – drive through the Jordan River Campground and find a decent-sized parking area along the mouth of the river. If parking is available here it offers the most amenities, including outhouses, fire pit and benches.

Roadside Parking – Although not official parking, driving through Jordan River in winter, the shoulder of the road is often packed with cars with surfboard racks on top.

Jordan River map

Love, love, love this spot! We were so lucky to get a spot just before the September long weekend, we were only going to stay one night, we decided to stay for five nights! So peaceful and serene did not want to leave! We even got to watch surfers one day, which was rainy, windy and cool, but just amazing!

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Camping Jordan River

If you are looking for a camping spot, Jordan River offers two options: Jordan River Regional Park Campground and the Ledge Campground.

There are two more campgrounds further up the highway at French Beach and China Beach. These campgrounds offer larger and more private options, but the sites prebook very quickly and are often not an option during the summer months unless booked ahead of time.

Jordan River Campground

Pebble beach at Jordan River with camping trailers peaking through the trees The only campground on South Vancouver Island that offers vehicle sites located right on the Ocean. Operating all year round on a first-come, first-served basis, it tends to fill up pretty fast with 15 drive-in sites and 7 walk-in tent-only sites. The drive-in sites are pretty close together, each with a fire ring and no hookups. But you can’t beat the proximity to the sounds of the waves.

The Ledge Campground

Just past the Cold Shoulder Cafe, you will find the new tent campground, A comfortable camping experience with open and private spots. They also have ice available.

 

Jordan River Regional Park

The 187-hectare Regional Park has two favourite stops for locals: the day-use area around the campground at the west tip and the popular hike on Route 14 before Jordan River. The 2km hike takes you through a beautiful forest down to Sandcut Beach and across to a unique waterfall.
For more on the beautiful hike and waterfall at Sandcut Beach, you can find maps, photos and more here.

Jordan River History

Once a small town of over 1000, this little community of around 100 people has more history than most areas on Vancouver Island. From the indigenous tribes’ fishing villages to the destruction of the river over the last 100 years by mining and other industries.

The river banks of the Jordan River once housed a seasonal fishing village where the Pacheedahat, Ditidaht and the T’sou-ke people would fish the river for salmon and trout. The river was once so active it was said you could kick the salmon out of the water.

Jordan River got its current name in 1790 by the passing Spanish as they mapped out the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Sub Lieutenant Manuel Quimper named it Jordan Rio in memory of chaplain Alexandro Jordan who accompanied Fransico Eliza to Nootka.

As South Vancouver Island started to see settlements by the British, industry began to grow. Over the last century, the area has seen the forest industry rise and fall, a mine that produced over 1.4 million tones of copper, gold and silver. And in 1911, one of Canada’s largest dams was built to become Victoria’s primary source of power.

Unfortunately, contaminants from the years of mining, and the changes in the river’s flow from the dams have caused devastation for the salmon. Once supporting thousands of fish, now considered a dead river as only a few dozen salmon no venture upstream. The Sunro Copper mine closed in 1977, but the remanence of the mine still causes trouble to this day.
For an in-depth article, visit Capital Daily on the current situation and health of the Jordan River.

The original power station was decommissioned, and in 1971 BC, hydro built the Elliott Dam and diverted much of the river volume to a new power station on the west side of the river. The new station generates power on a peak load system when energy demands are high for greater Victoria.

There has not been any new development around the mouth of the river due to a 2014 study that was released revealing that the Jordan River Diversion Dam may be a seismic hazard in an extreme earthquake event. BC Hydro bought up most of the land and installed an early warning earthquake system, just in case the dam upstream collapsed from a magnitude 8.0 or higher earthquake.

 

 

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FAQ:

Can you Swim at Jordan River BC?

Yes, you can, but it’s not an ideal swimming location. The beaches are not that great for walking, and there are some currents you want to be aware of. It’s a better surfing beach than a swimming beach. French Beach or China Beach might be better options for swimming.

Can you camp at Jordan River BC?

Yes, there are two campgrounds. Jordan River Campground and The Ledge Tenting Campground. They run as first come, first serve and have fire pits with ocean view sites.  Beach camping is not allowed.

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Modified: May 16, 2024
Last Visit: June 23, 2023
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Thank you for visiting – I hope you found the information you were looking for at VIBL (Vancouver Island Bucket List) please continue to discover all of the great places that makes Vancouver Island so great! 

Pack Out:
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!

Wildlife:
Vancouver Island is a land of natural beauty and abundant wildlife. Please be aware of your surroundings and take the usual precautions for personal and wildlife safety.
Black bears, cougars and even wolves are common on Vancouver Island for more on Wildlife Safety Click Here 

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! Click here for the tides in your area. 

Be aware of ocean currents before swimming, paddle boarding or kayaking.

Land Acknowledgement:
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 .

Disclaimer:
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. 

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