VANCOUVER ISLAND - Discover Your Next Adventure:
surfing Sombrio Beach

Sombrio Beach

Beach Icon
Hiking Icon
surfing icon
Waterfall icon
Beach, Surfing
Port Renfrew
45 min - half day
1-3km (0.6-2mi)


Beach Icon
Hiking Icon
surfing icon
Waterfall icon


Family access icon with child
Dogs on leash Icon

Highlights Include:

Info Map

Sombrio Beach - Chill Vibe for surfers, hikers and families in search of waterfalls

Coldwater surfers, backpackers and families are out for the day; this beach has different energy—a rough road and a short walk down to the beach. The parking lot fills up fast on the weekends, so earlier is better.

Sombrio Beach is a great day-use area or overnight stay. It has excellent waves for surfing, two waterfalls, backcountry camping and a great vibe! It is a place with history and one of the 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.

The Beach and Waterfalls

The Road In 

A 2km logging road off of HWY 14 makes for an interesting ride down in small cars. It does get graded every once and a while, but it’s not a road for the sports car.

The Trail To The Beach

The hike down is an easy 250 meters down from the parking lot. The trail is wide and 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.

Sombrio Beach

Spending the day at Sombrio Beach lighting a fire for lunch before walking to the hidden waterfallThis pebble beach is over a kilometre long and is a great rustic getaway for the day, offering backcountry camping, lighting a fire on the beach, walking past sea caves and up to the unique waterfalls.

The beach is a mixture of sand and a lot of rock and can be challenging to walk along, especially during high tide, as you navigate the rounded stones moving under your feet.

About halfway up east Sombrio, an outcrop of stone becomes accessible during low tide and a great place to walk and search for sea creatures in tide pools. Be careful, as it does get slippery from the seaweed build-up.

Surfing Sombrio Beach

Next to Jordan River, Sombrio Beach is one of the most popular surfing destinations on Southern Vancouver Island. Offering surfing options for all tide stages, it can get crowded and has some rock hazards. According to Surf Forcast, the waves are blown out 49% of the time, Clean 31% and Small 20%


Sombrio Hidden Waterfall

Walking along Sombrio Beach I turned up the creek to find this opening. After entering, I came upon one of the most unique waterfalls on Vancouver Island. The Sombrio Beach Hidden WaterfallHit 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.

The creek is not marked or overly obvious (hence the name hidden waterfall). Within the first few meters, you will notice the creek change quickly and an ominous dark void into the forest. This is where it gets fun.

The walk from Sobrio Beach to the waterfall is only 100m, and the water isn’t deep, but in the rainy months, expect to be walking through a couple of inches of water to get to the back of the canyon.

Hiking map for Sombrio beach with two waterfall locationsYou 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? During high tide take the trail past the hidden waterfall, this is the Juan de Fuca trail that continues towards Loss Creek suspension bridge and Chin Beach.  The second waterfall is about 500m into the trail. During low tide, keep your eyes open, as you never know what you will find in the tide pools.

Tips and Suggestions

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 April 2023, tower upgrades are scheduled to be complete.

Fires: Small fires are permitted below the high tide mark on the beach. Only use driftwood for fires. It is a provincial park, and you can be fined for cutting trees or other vegetation.

Do not leave your fire unattended and practice “leave no trace” ethics.

Getting To Sombrio Beach

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.

"Beautiful place to camp or just go for the day. Stunning views, long beach to walk along and always some surfers to watch. Don't forget about the waterfall"

History of Sombrio 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.

Helpful links:

Play Video


From the parking lot, walk down to East Sombrio Beach.  Follow the Beach to the left for about 800 meters, you will see a small creek coming out of the forest. Follow the creek bed 75 meters to the entrance to the canyon and to the waterfall.

Yes, but you do need a backcountry camping permit.

Yes, it’s one of the few beaches that allow fire directly on the beach. You must use only driftwood or bring your own. It is illegal to cut down trees or other vegetation in the park.

Photo Gallery:

Niagara Falls Victoria
Hiking Icon
Picnic Icon
Waterfall icon

Goldstream Park

Goldstream Park, Only 16 km from Downtown Victoria massive trees and 150-foot waterfall
English Rose Garden at BC Government House in Victoria
flower icon
walk icon
Coffee Icon

Government House...

The Government House Gardens is an excellent destination for any traveller looking to experience one of the best free gardens in Victoria.
Sidney Pier beacon park
shopping icon
walk icon
View point icon

Sidneys' Beacon Ave

Full of charm and character, visitors can explore Sidneys’ many boutiques and art galleries, stroll along the waterfront boardwalk, or simply relax and enjoy the view.
White Sand Beach East Sooke
Hiking Icon
Beach Icon
Picnic Icon
walk icon

Aylard Farm - Ea...

White Sand Beaches, Views, Rugged Hiking on the East Coast Trail and Petroglyphs

Did we miss something?
Have more to add?

Original Author:

Modified: May 17, 2023
Last Visit: February 18, 2023
Join Our Weekly Newsletter
Vancouver Island's Ultimate Experiences!
For the adventurous, curious and those who love Vancouver Island.
Includes lesser known hikes, stories, and more.

Unsubscribe anytime. For more details, review our Privacy Policy.

Pack Out:
We love this 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!

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.

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 .

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. 

Join Our Weekly Newsletter
For the adventurous, curious and people who love Vancouver Island.
Includes lesser known hikes, stories, and more.

Unsubscribe anytime. For more details, review our Privacy Policy.

Submit a change suggestion:

max of 4 images