Summer is my favourite time of year and to make sure we’re getting the most out of it, my kids and I started making a ‘summer fun list’ a few years ago. From biking, hiking and kayaking to beach days, local attractions and adventurous day trips, our must-do list prioritizes fun.
Almost everything on the list — which now includes more than 50 items — is within an hour’s drive of Victoria. It’s our version of a ‘be a tourist in your own hometown’ and the following day trips top the list every year.
Sooke Potholes Regional Park is a 69-hectare gem along the Sooke River, which is the second-largest river on Southern Vancouver Island. It’s famous for deep pools, or “potholes”, that provide some of the best freshwater swimming in Greater Victoria. The unique geological formations vary in size and with rocky outcroppings lining the banks, exploring the potholes is an all-day adventure. There are also several stunning viewpoints along the river and this year, we discovered the Riverside Trail, which runs parallel to the Galloping Goose bike trail. Setting out from parking lot three, the hiking trail took us through tall trees and along the river gorge with picnic tables and swimming stops at Skipping Rock Beach and Ripple Rock Beach along the way. There’s nothing quite like cooling off in the crystal-clear water of the potholes after a hike but be sure to pick a hot day if you want to go swimming — the water is cold!
We love hiking under the forest canopy as we make our way down to the beach. It’s about a 15-minute walk from the Metchosin Road parking lot with beautiful views of the lagoon along the way. Our favourite time to visit is at low tide, when the beach area stretches far into the ocean, so we can go skim-boarding along the sand bars. If you time it right, you can also go swimming and one of the best spots for that is at the entrance to the lagoon, where fresh water meets salt water and the temperature is warmer. Whitty’s Lagoon is also a popular bird-watching spot and ocean currents create an environment teeming with sea life.