Madrona, an oceanfront Sooke vacation rental cottage, is located in the midst of a scenic, natural playground. Although many guests spend their entire stay basking in the relaxing atmosphere of the cottage, there are many superb day trips to be discovered on southern Vancouver Island. Take an easy, fun drive along the winding coastal roads, stroll along a rocky beach or meander under a thick rainforest canopy. Madrona Cottage offers visitors an ideal base from which to explore the surrounding area.
A drive from East Sooke to the Malahat takes you on winding, scenic roads through the dense forests covering the Sooke Hills, past Goldstream Provincial Park and then up along the spectacular Malahat Highway (Hwy #1). This scenic road has mountain top views of Finlayson Arm, the Gulf Islands and even Mount Baker on a clear day.
To get there: From the cottage, head towards Victoria on Sooke Road (Highway #14). When the road expands to 4 lanes, turn left on Humpback Road and follow it through the Sooke Hills (this is a short cut to Highway #1). Travel slowly and obey all signs as you navigate through the thick forest. At the end, turn onto Sooke Lake Road and then north on the Trans Canada Highway.
Along the way, stop at French Beach,
Sombrio Beach or China beach and discover just a small portion of the
Juan de Fuca Marine Trail.
In Port Renfrew - the starting point for the better-known West Coast Trail -
enjoy the expansive views of the coast mountains. Explore this small fishing
village that has changed little over the past few decades. And be sure to stop
at the amazing Avatar Grove, home of "Canada's Gnarliest Tree"
(see below for more info about Avatar Grove).
For those seeking a longer day trip, travel from west to east along the Pacific Marine Circle Route. From Madrona Cottage, it takes about 6.5 hours to complete this coastal and inland tour of southern Vancouver Island.
Southern Vancouver Island is home to spectacular old-growth forests ... trees so old that they stagger the imagination! The Ancient Forest Alliance publishes a Big Trees Map which includes the amazing Avatar Grove, located in the community of Port Renfrew. Avatar Grove is just under 2 hours from Madrona Cottage.
There is an upper and a lower hiking trail at Avatar Grove. The lower trail, save for a small climb near at the start of the trail, is suitable for most hikers. The upper trail winds its way upwards; hikers should have good shoes and be sturdy on their feet. At the top of the upper trail stands "Canada's Gnarliest Tree". Entering this old-growth forest is like being in another world!
Spend an afternoon in the town of Sooke and discover life on the other side of the harbour. Go for a relaxing stroll on a seaside boardwalk and pier in Ed Macgregor Park (20 minutes from the cottage). Located in the heart of the town, this hidden gem has landscape gardens, a walking trail and waterfront views of the harbour and the Olympic Mountains. Public artwork created by local artisans is featured throughout the year.
Next, venture to Whiffen Spit Park and take a stroll along the long sandy finger jetting into the harbour. This natural spit is a perfect place to have a snack and to watch the many migratory birds. It can get windy so bring a sweater.
To escape the afternoon heat in the summer, head to the Sooke Potholes Regional Park. These deep holes in the rocks are natural formations that are popular swimming holes along the Sooke River. Let the gentle current swirl around you as you finish a relaxing day in this warm, freshwater river.
Thetis Lake Regional Park is
a peaceful treasure that offers ample places to explore. Located 20 minutes from the
cottage, you'll find lakeshore trails below giant trees. This large park is located
in suburban Victoria but the thick forest hides the urban sights and sounds. Bring
your kayak or canoe and enjoy the solitude on Upper and Lower Thetis Lake.
Just a short distance away, drive to Francis King Regional Park to view the largest trees in the Victoria area. Park at the Foresters Cabins, cross the street and walk a short distance into Heritage Grove. You won't be able to miss these giant Douglas Fir trees with 32' diameters!
Another day trip closer to town is along Ocean Boulevard at the Esquimalt Lagoon in neighbouring Colwood (30 minutes away). Spend the day at the beach amongst the driftwood, watch migrating birds play on the salt-water pools, and view the sealife and birds (please don't move - or remove - any sealife). Also explore the landscaped grounds at nearby historic Hatley Castle. Bring a sweater or windbreaker as the ocean breezes can be cool.
If this is your first time to Vancouver Island, make sure you visit the Inner Harbour in the heart of the downtown Victoria (40 minutes away). Take a tour of the Legislative Assembly, the Royal BC Museum. A trip on a water taxi offers visitors a good view of the city's waterfront. Also check out the Butchart Gardens in Brentwood Bay. This national historic site has over 55 acres of floral displays and, due to our mild climate, is open year round.
Ready to plan your vacation in Sooke? Contact us for availability and rates!