Skip to content

The best beaches for kids, a quiet bite, or making out

Beaches you ought to visit: Coles Bay, Banfield Park, Aylard Farm, Denniston Park, Moses Point, and many more
web1_vka-weather-1465
Willows Beach in Oak Bay is a great place to take the children or grandchildren, with shade trees, a playground and a concession that’s open Tuesday through Sunday. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

While summer is still here, we might as well refresh our list of beaches you could try. These are just a sample of what you’ll find if you venture beyond Thetis, Elk/Beaver Lake and the Dallas Road waterfront.

BEACHES TO TAKE THE (GRAND)CHILDREN

Here are a few that generally offer easy access, no cost, ample parking or bus access, washrooms and ease of supervision.

• Coles Bay, North Saanich — Good-sized parking lot off Inverness Road leads to nature trail ending at a quiet pebbled beach. Warm enough (by Victoria standards) to swim in summer.

• Macaulay Point Park, Esquimalt — Watch the ­climbers at Fleming Beach, walk the dog, follow the cool (or vaguely creepy) tunnel to the observation point ­overlooking the old gun emplacements.

• Cadboro-Gyro Park, Saanich — Lots of grass. Lots of stuff to climb on. (Prince George — the child, not the city — clambered up the octopus during Kate and ­William’s royal visit in 2016.) Best bit: a beach that goes on forever.

• Mount Doug Park, Saanich — Warning: The washrooms are up at the parking lot, not down the hill by the water, so watch for tots dancing the gotta-pee polka.

• Island View Beach, Central Saanich — Plenty of ­parking and a full kilometre of waterfront. Kind of like Jay Leno’s house.

• Witty’s Lagoon, Metchosin — Great place to skim-board or wade in warm water, if you catch the tides right. Use the main parking lot just past the golf course, check out the nature centre and take the 20-minute wander through the woods past Sitting Lady Falls.

• Willows Beach, Oak Bay — Shade trees for when the kids are baked, Kiwanis concession food (Tuesday through Sunday) for when you need to stuff their ­pie-holes.

• Gorge Park, Esquimalt — Acres of grass, tables and benches, and, at the far end, a playground, a small sandy beach, a nature house and washrooms all within a wet diaper toss of one another.

• Banfield Park, Vic West — The city just expanded the swimming dock. Good timing.

• Langford Lake Beach Park. Landlocked ­Langford doesn’t have the natural beachfront of other ­municipalities, so, being Langford, it built its own ­swimming beaches on Langford and Glen lakes.

• Aylard Farm, East Sooke — Plenty of parking, a ­two-minute walk, then down the stairs to a secluded horseshoe beach. The adventurous can hike to the ­petroglyphs farther along in East Sooke Park.

• Craigflower-Kosapsom Park, Saanich — Beside the Craigflower Bridge along the Gorge, it has a strip of beach, washrooms, playground equipment and picnic tables. Easy.

BEACHES TO EAT A SANDWICH

Quiet, tucked-away places to zone out and skip rocks (or your phone) across the water. With limited or non-­existent parking, many are best reached by bike or on foot.

• Glencoe Cove-Kwatsech Park, Saanich — If you’re lucky enough to snag one of the handful of parking spots at the base of Gordon Point Drive, shortish trails (and stairs) in either direction lead to a pair of tiny, sandy, horseshoe beaches. Stunning views.

• Saxe Point Park, Esquimalt — Yes, you know all about the big grassy area when you pull in, but have you ever followed the paths to the right and found the beach?

• Cordova Bay — Yes, you know about the access by the Beach House, but have you tried one of the others, like Agate Park or Parker Park? Take the stairs, then wander the shore.

• Peter Pollen Waterfront Park, Laurel Point, Victoria — OK, it’s a work in progress, not much more than a dusty trail, and there’s no real access to the water, but it’s just five minutes’ walk from the legislature and there are benches to sit on if you’re having one of those days when all you want to do is have a moment’s peace while watching the floatplanes and whale-watching boats glide past.

• Gonzales Bay, Victoria/Oak Bay — If the action at this lovely, sandy beach is too hormone-heavy for you, try the quieter options around either end of the bay — at the foot of St. Charles, near Ross Bay Cemetery, and at ­Harling Point, below the Chinese cemetery. They’re, ahem, dead quiet.

Island Health had a no-swimming advisory due to high bacteria counts at Gonzales Bay this week.

• Denniston Park, Esquimalt — At the foot of Grafton Street, a short path leads to a rocky headland and a pair of tree-shaded picnic tables overlooking the Sea of ­Tranquillity, a.k.a. Juan de Fuca Strait.

• Beaumont Road, View Royal — A hidden gem. New stairs lead down to a picnic table, a pair of benches and a rocky foreshore that offers a good view of ships pulling in and out of the naval base.

• Smugglers Cove Road beach access, Saanich — Just one of a half dozen Ten Mile Point beachfront accesses that make for a quiet place to gaze over the water. An ­easily accessible bench overlooks a tiny beach. No handy ­parking around here, though, and some fairly serious fences indicate neighbours would like you to respect their privacy.

• Tod Inlet, Central Saanich/Saanich — From Wallace Drive, a 15-minute amble through Gowlland-Tod ­Provincial Park takes you to a postcard-pretty scene of kayaks and anchored boats.

• Warrior Point, North Saanich — Off Towner Park Road, a long path between residential properties comes out on new stairs leading down to Patricia Bay. Or you could go north and use the Towner Road beach access that snuggles up against the estate where Meghan and Harry holed up. There must be some residual romance there. Which brings us to….

BEACHES TO MAKE OUT

What we’re looking for here is seclusion, not just the usual Lovers Lane if-this-van’s-a-rockin’ seaside park ’n’ rides. As with the sandwich spots, we’re generally not talking about car-friendly destinations. Actually, make-out beaches and quiet-sandwich beaches are broadly interchangeable. Really, it comes down to your appetite.

• Arbutus Cove, Saanich — Stairs lead to a Victoria rarity, a small, secluded, sandy beach, perfect for a remake of the rolling-in-the-surf scene in From Here to Eternity. The beach is bookended by Holydene and Arbutus Cove parks.

• Moses Point, North Saanich — A two-minute walk from Moses Point Road to a bench at a quiet rocky beach. Nice view of Salt Spring on the right and Saanich Inlet on the left, not that you’ll notice.

• Portage Park, View Royal — Tucked behind View Royal municipal hall, trails lead to a beach at Thetis Cove. There are stairs, so don’t put your back out.

• Telegraph Bay Road, Saanich — Drive right up to the beach, a bonus for those whose passion doesn’t allow for time-wasting wanders through the woods.

• Trafalgar Park, Oak Bay — Very little parking down below, so you might have to scramble down from the lookout on King George Terrace to the dauntingly rocky outcropping at the bottom. Think urgency, not comfort.

• Foot of Lansdowne, Oak Bay — Get down in the Uplands. Trail leads to tiny, rocky shore of the ­appropriately named Spoon Bay. Snug snogging possible if the tides are right.

• Nymph Point Park, North Saanich — Pass the swank houses on Marina Way, then walk the narrow path past the yachts to a rocky headland. Note that the bench that used to tilt forward has been replaced, meaning you no longer need to worry about rolling off.

• Arm Street Promenade, Esquimalt — Turn off ­Craigflower. A few end-of-the-road parking spots lead to half a hectare of face-sucking splendour overlooking (but, alas, not leading into) the Gorge Waterway.

• Esquimalt Lagoon, Colwood — For the sake of backseat traditionalists, including those still upset about what ­Victoria council did to Clover Point, we’ll make one exception to the Lovers Lane rule. Plenty of places to pull in and watch the submarine races.