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Coldwater surfers, backpackers and families out for the day; there is different energy on this beach; it’s a place you must visit. A rough road in and a short walk down to the beach. The parking lot fills up fast on the weekends, so earlier is better.
By Car –
Located along the west coast of Southern Vancouver Island, Sombrio Beach is a 2-hour drive down Highway 14 west from Victoria or 20 minutes east of Port Renfrew. After the sign, head down a rough and windy 2 km dirt road towards a decent parking lot not big enough for campers and motorhomes.
Take a Bus –
Planning an overnight hike along the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail? Need a way to get to the trail or back to your car? West Coast Trail Express offers a daily trail bus in the summer and every second day in the winter. Leaving Victoria and stopping at Sooke, China Beach/Mystic Beach, Sombrio and Port Renfrew.
The Trail –
The hike down is easy an easy 500 meters as the trail is wide, gravelled, and a consistent decline down to the beach. Halfway down, you will notice the option to head East or West.
West Sombrio: Take the right and head over the suspension bridge. The west side of the river doesn’t see as many visitors with its rockier beach and fewer attractions. It’s more common to see hikers, campers and the odd suffer.
East Sombrio: Head left to the east beach, and you will see more sand, more people, waterfalls and a sea cave. Head east if you are a first-time visitor.
Hit the beach and start walking to your left. You’ll pass a point with a small sea cave and neat rocks to walk along with small tide pools during low tide. Keep walking, and when you’ve walked just shy of one kilometre from the trail, you’ll see some water trickling from the forest, follow the water up.
You won’t be able to see it from the beach but hidden just a little inland, weaved in the back of two green cliffs, is the unique Sombrio Beach Hidden waterfall.
Not tired yet and want to keep exploring and get one more shot for Insta? Keep on walking along the beach to find another waterfall, and this one is a lot more obvious. During low tide, keep your eyes open as you never know what you will find in the tide pools.
HOW DO YOU FIND THE HIDDEN WATERFALL?
Take the path to the left. When you reach the beach, walk to the left for about 800 meters, there should be a creek coming out of the forest follow it up to the waterfall.
CAN YOU CAMP OVERNIGHT?
Yes, but you do need a backcountry camping permit.
CAN YOU HAVE A FIRE ON THE BEACH?
Yes, it’s one of the few beaches that allow fire directly on the beach.
Compared to other beaches in the area, Sombrio Beach has a unique history. Long before it got its name from the Spanish explorers, the area was home to the Ditidaht and the Pechaeedaht first nations. They chose this village site for its Salmon and the hidden sacred waterfall.
More recently, the area was well known for being the home of squatters from the 1960s to the mid-1990s. This unique community lived a simple, self-sustainable lifestyle away from the consumer world. This remote location attracted social misfits and surfers who built and lived in unique shacks and off the modern grid for years.
In 1997 it ended as the government integrated Sombrio Beach into the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park and cleared out everyone who called this area home.
Although the funky shacks have long been removed as you drive down the rough back road and walk the trail during a busy summer weekend, you will still see the melding of groups visiting the isolated beach, looking to get away from the hectic fast-paced modern world.
Coldwater surfers trekking their gear down the hill, Backpackers headed out for a multi-day trip along the Juan de Fuca trail, weekenders and overnight campers carrying their coolers filled with the necessary food and drinks to get by.
As you walk along the beach, tents are pitched, surfboards at the ready and photographers loaded up for the sandy beaches, hidden waterfall, camping, sea cave, and large surf.
Sombrio Beach has great waves for surfing, two waterfalls, camping and a great vibe! It is a place with history and one of the most unique beaches on the Island. Sombrio Beach should be on the top of your list if you go to the south coast of Vancouver Island.
Parking: The parking lot fills up fast on busy days and is not big enough for RVs. The road down can be rough.
Amenities: Pit toilets, bear lockers and backcountry beach camping.
Cell Coverage: Not great, most likely reach American towers. By the end of 2022, and tower upgrades are scheduled to be complete.
More Beaches in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park
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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!
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.
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