Socially distant outdoor dining at Smoke & Anchor, located at Victoria’s popular Fisherman’s Wharf. (Submitted photo)

Victoria: A place where you can water-taxi to watering holes

A guide to a few sea-side favourites as water taxis gradually resume service

By Fiona Anderson

Triumph Social Travel

(Due to COVID-19, Victoria’s iconic water taxis are only running Fridays through Sundays in June but expect to run daily in July. Their normal operating hours are from 10 a.m. to dusk. We updated this piece on June 19 to say that Glo is now open, as well as the Canoe Brewpub, the Boom and Batten and the Smoke & Anchor. Q Bar intends to open on June 26, and management at the Empress Hotel is still determining hours, and exploring take-out options and expanded outdoor eating space. They say they’ll be open for breakfast, and the Veranda will be open for lunch and dinner. As of June 19, Lure remained closed.)

Anyone who has been to Victoria can’t help but notice the tubby little green or yellow boats that zigzag back and forth across the inner harbour. These water taxis are a fun way to see Victoria ‘s waterfront, from the inner Harbour of downtown Victoria up under the Johnson and Bay Street bridges to the quiet Gorge Waterway.

The pickle boats, as they are also known, are also a great way to taxi from watering hole to watering hole.

Stop 1: Q Bar, The Empress Hotel (Stop name: Empress Dock)

In the pre-COVID era, the place to start any trip to Victoria, no matter the mode of transportation, would be the Fairmont Empress Hotel, the Grand Dame of the Canadian Pacific Railway hotels built in 1908 to service railway passengers. Today it is thoroughly modern and named one of the top hotels of the world by National Geographic Traveler magazine. Although the hotel’s Q bar (Q for Queen) is currently closed, you’d normally be surrounded by images of Queen Victoria, as well as well-heeled tourists and business clientele. As its website says, it’s a place to see and be seen.

Stop 2: The Canoe Brewpub (Stop name: Chinatown; Status: OPEN!)

Even older than the Empress is the building which houses The Canoe Brewpub. Built in 1894 for the generators that ran Victoria’s streetlights, the building is a designated heritage site. With its oversized ceiling beams, and hanging cedar canoes, the pub is worth visiting just for the ambience. But the craft beer, changing with the seasons, and the view, especially from the patio in the summer, are an added bonus. Jump off the taxi at historic Chinatown and it’s a short walk to the Canoe Brewpub.

Stop 3: Glo Restaurant & Lounge (Stop name: Selkirk Landing)

Further up the Gorge and just short of the Selkirk Bridge – the foot and cycle path that was once the railway line that serviced the local mills — is Glo Restaurant and Lounge,a fairly recent addition to the area, which describes itself on its website as “as close as you can get to Victoria’s Inner Harbour without getting wet.”

In the COVID era, the stop is a great place to walk and enjoy the bustling waterway and occasional wildlife.

Stop 4: Lure Restaurant & Bar at the Delta Hotel and Boom and Batten (Stop name: Delta Hotel or Songhees Landing; Status: Closed/OPEN!)

Head back out under the Johnson Street Bridge to Lure Restaurant and Bar at the Delta Hotel. Although currently closed, Lure bills itself as the best patio in Victoria, but inside on a cold day it is also warm and welcoming. The bar is in a large, airy room, with comfortable chairs along a wall of windows overlooking the Inner Harbour. And its white-shirted attentive staff makes every patron feel like a welcome tourist, whether they are one or not.

Just steps away along the boardwalk from Lure is he latest addition to the waterfront, the Boom and Batten, which opened in 2019 as part of the new International Marina that berths yachts from around the world. Not only can guests ogle the mega-yachts, they can also watch paddlers paddle under the dock that houses the marina office, which is built on stilts over the water.

Stop 5: Fisherman’s Wharf (stop name Fisherman’s Wharf: Status: OPEN!)

Another must-visit stop for any Victoria tour is Fisherman’s Wharf, a mixture of fishing boats, whale watchers, floating homes and food stops. Crossing the harbour from Boom and Batten means crossing the floatplane runway – the busiest airport of its kind in Canada. Our recommendation, Smoke and Anchor, an outdoor space with draft beer and amazing mouth-watering sandwiches, including pulled pork and done-just-right tuna.

From Fisherman’s Wharf it’s a quick jump back to the Empress via water taxi or via the David Foster walking path, if you are ready to walk off some of the beer and great food you’ve had.

Fiona Anderson is a veteran journalist who loves travelling and travel writing.

(When this article was posted, the government of B.C. was advising residents to avoid non-essential travel, and to safely and responsibly enjoy restaurants and activities close to home. Be sure to check this website when planning any future trip to Victoria.)

——-

See hundreds of photos and articles at westcoasttraveller.com

British ColumbiaCanadaFoodThings to doTravel ShowsVictoriawct-intro

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting, are among the provincial leaders in getting in their votes early, with some 20 per cent (10,174) of eligible voters have already cast their ballots. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

Shay Baker, 17, hasn’t been seen or heard from since Oct. 21 and is wanted on outstanding warrants. (Victoria Police Department)
Victoria police searching for high-risk missing youth

Shay Baker, 17, is wanted on outstanding warrants

Plastic Ocean by Oak Bay resident Gabriela Hirt is in the Federation of Canadian Artist’s “Crisis” exhibition on now in Vancouver. (Gabriela Hirt/cropped to fit)
Oak Bay artist wins juried show in Vancouver

Pair of Oak Bay artists part of ‘Crisis’ exhibition

The M’akola Housing Society is looking to build two new residences in Sooke to help provide affordable accommodation for local Indigenous people. The projects were granted nearly $1.1 million toward their construction through the Regional Housing Trust Fund. (Photo courtesy M’Akola Housing Society)
Regional Housing First Program strikes another chord in Greater Victoria

Affordable housing partnership grants will help house over 100 people on income assistance

Online reservation service, First Table, allows Victoria diners to have dinner at half-price if they’re willing to be flexible about when they go. (Black Press Media file photo)
New reservation service allows Victoria residents to dine out at half price

First Table gives Victoria diners 50 per cent off when they book tables during off-peak hours

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Liberals Leader Andrew Wilkinson, BC Greens Sonia Furstenau, BC NDP John Horgan (The Canadian Press photos)
British Columbians vote in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

At dissolution, the NDP and Liberals were tied with 41 seats in the legislature, while the Greens held two seats

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

Most Read