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6 amazing beaches in Greater Victoria to experience

Here are some of the region’s best beaches and some lesser-known facts about them

From nature reserves to playgrounds with an interesting history, each beach in Greater Victoria offers something a little different. And no matter how long one has lived in this region, there is always something new to be discovered.

Here are some of the region’s best beaches and some lesser-known facts about them.

Cadboro-Gyro Park

Cadboro-Gyro Park, May 30, 2023. (Samantha Duerksen)

Cadboro-Gyro Park is a family-friendly beach with a pebble-filled shoreline and some sandy sections. There are picnic tables, a boat launch, and a fun nautical playground that includes sea creatures, a ship, a shipwreck and a zipline.

Fun fact: The green, snake-like play structure with yellow flippers is actually based on a mythical sea creature: the “Cadborosaurus.” Nicknamed “Caddy,” the Cadborosaurus is a sea serpent in Pacific Coast folklore who gained public attention in Victoria in the 1930s due to a slew of alleged sightings. And where were the most? You guessed it – Cadboro Bay.

Cadboro-Gyro Park’s Cadborosaurus is based off of Pacific Coast folklore. (Samantha Duerksen)

Gonzales Beach

Gonzales Beach, May 30, 2023. (Samantha Duerksen)

Located off Crescent Road, Gonzales Bay is easy to miss. It’s nestled in the quiet, prestigious neighbourhood of Gonzales and only accessible down flights of stairs or the ramp. It’s this hidden solitude that makes it so pristine in the off-season. Come on a summer weekend and you’re likely to find groups of people paddle boarding, kayaking, swimming and playing beach volleyball.

Fun fact: Elephant seals sometimes choose Gonzales Beach as their spot to moult between March and July.

Willows Beach

Willows Beach offers views of Mount Baker. (Samantha Duerksen)

With shallow, protected waters, Willows Beach is one of Victoria’s most popular for swimming. On a clear day, it offers gorgeous views of Mount Baker and Discovery Island, all the more breathtaking with the pink skies of sunset.

Attached is a large grassy park often filled with people playing Frisbee and catch or having barbecues and picnics. You’ll also find The Kiwanis Willows Beach Tea Room, which offers dine-in and takeout including breakfast, tea and light snacks like chicken fingers.

Fun fact: The beach gets its name from the Willows Fairground, Greater Victoria’s main horse racing grounds, built in 1891.

Esquimalt Lagoon

Esquimalt Lagoon (which is actually in Colwood) has a long road that runs adjacent to its miles of beach, with a beautiful view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Fisgard Lighthouse and the Olympic Mountains. It’s is a great location for walks, beachcombing, a picnic, or a swim (if you’re the daring kind). Enjoy Colwood Beach Food Days on the weekends in the summer months with food trucks and occasional live music. Dancing is that much better with your toes in the sand.

Fun fact: The lagoon is a designated migratory bird sanctuary home to many waterfowl like ducks, swans, herons, eagles and other species that call Victoria home for a season or two of the year during migration.

Island View Beach

A family takes a closer look at an otter, swimming past Island View Beach. (Amy Attas photo)

Located in Island View Beach Regional Park, this beach offers 51 hectares of conservation area on the eastern shore of the Saanich Peninsula with views of the Haro Strait and Mount Baker. It’s prime for campers as there is a self-contained RV and tent campground with beachfront views, operating on a reservation system in the summer season.

A trail follows the shoreline, up from the beach area and a loop with a round-trip of around two kilometres.

Fun fact: The park is a nature conservation area with vital bird habitats and more than 100 species of birds. Ecosystems in the area include coastal bluffs, wetlands, sand beach, dunes, inter tidal and sub tidal marine zones. The CRD says fragile and endangered species in the area include the Contorted-pod Evening-primrose, Grey Beach Peavine, Sand-verbena Moth, and Georgia Basin Bog Spider.

Spiral Beach (Clover Point)

Spiral Beach along Dallas Road. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)

This beach’s location off Dallas Road with fantastic views of the Olympic Mountains make it a favourite local spot to sunset watch. Curling around Victoria’s south coast at the foot of ocean-side cliffs, there is lots to see due to the ranges of topography and the views that come with it. Looking up, you’re likely to see kites, hang gliders, kite surfers and windsurfers. From the vantage point of the cliffs, you’ll find grasses and wildflowers in pinks and yellows while ships pass by in the distance.

Fun fact: Spiral Beach is named after its painted spiral staircase which can be found just past the intersection of Dallas Road and Cook Street at the foot of Beacon Hill Park.

A pair of children explore the beach at Island View Beach Regional Park in Central Saanich. (Steven Heywood/News Staff File)

Sam Duerksen

About the Author: Sam Duerksen

Since moving to Victoria from Winnipeg in 2020, I’ve worked in communications for non-profits and arts organizations.
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