Botanical Beach is located only a short 5 min drive from Handsome Dan’s Cottages, or 115 km, and approximately a 2hr 10min drive from Victoria
Some Info about Botanical Beach:
Visiting Port Renfrew and not hiking at Botanical Beach would be like visiting New York City and not going to the Statue of Liberty. Botanical Beach and nearby Botany Bay can be accessed at the end of Cerantes Road from the large roundabout parking lot in the Juan de Fuca Provincial Marine Park which includes a great nearby picnic table area. Botanical Beach offers one of the best opportunities to view intertidal marine creatures and plants on Vancouver Island. The area is a protected zone, so please take nothing but photographs.
To Get the Best of your Visit: Plan it at low tide and check the Port Renfrew Tide Chart
What to wear: Wear water-resistant shoes with sturdy soles as the going is always wet. Even during the lowest tides of the year – December and January, June and July The prospect of being caught out here will make your adrenal gland flutter.
At the parking lot you will find two trailheads. One leads to Botanical Beach and the other to Botany Bay. The trail is a loop trail, so no matter which you choose, it will return you to the parking lot. See the picture of the trail above. The complete loop is 2.7km. From the parking lot, Botany Bay is 0.7km to a set of stairs that will lead to the beach and into the Bay. From here you have a choice, you may do the Beach to Beach trail, or do the loop trail.
- Beach To Beach Trail: Only attempt this at low tide. Be sure to check the Tide Chart. Follow the stairs and go down into the Bay where you can hike towards the left (south) from Botany Bay along the rocks to Botanical Beach and explore all the tidal pools on the way. It is truly spectacular. Some rock climbing is involved, nothing too crazy, but I do not suggest it for young kids and elderly people. Remember to stay back from the high tide points and keep your eyes peeled for rogue waves. They are exciting and fun to watch from a distance, but are dangerous close up. Although you wouldn’t want to be anywhere near here at high tide, it’s staggering to imagine how conditions must boil in there during winter storms.
- The Loop Trail: Great choice if the tide is high, or if some people in your party like to do the beach to beach way, and you rather have a beautiful pleasure walk into the rainforest. Do the trail from the top of the stairs. This will lead you to Botanical Beach as well, and eventually back to the parking lot. The trail is absolutely beautiful. There are many great ocean vista view points to look down onto the beach as you travel the trail, which is perfect for storm watching in the winter months.
- Tide Pools: Botanical Beach is known for its Tidal Pools, the Great Botanical Loop Trail, Storm Watching in the winter months and an abundance of Wildlife. It is one of the most amazing places on the entire West Coast, particularly at low tide.
This is when visitors can walk a long way out across flat sandstone and granite outcroppings to view tide pools filled like jewel boxes with brightly coloured marine animals. Purple, red and orange starfish and sea urchins, blue mussel shells, white gooseneck barnacles, green sea anemones and sea cucumbers. So significant is this location that a research station was first established here in 1900 by a team from the University of Minnesota.
The organisms that live here must be able to handle a wide range of conditions. When the tide is out there are significant changes in temperature, predators, food sources and salinity. Each creature has adapted to contend with these variable conditions.
Organisms that cannot cope with drying will survive in the tide pools or in shaded crevices. There you will find Sea Stars, chitons and anemones. The Sea Stars often pile together to reduce moisture loss. Barnacles, snails and mussels are able to survive by closing up tightly with a small amount of water inside their shells. Purple sea urchins have established a particular niche in the soft sandstone. Their sharp, hard spines help to wear away the indentations in which they live.
If you have the chance, do both trails. They are truly spectacular. And the beach to beach with the tidal pools is a must.
- Wild Life: Killer Whales and Grey Whales have often been observed swimming past the beach or feeding just off of the point. The best time for seeing Grey Whales is during their migration from the Mexican coast to Alaska during March and April. Sea lions can be found here from late August through May.
Bear and Cougars:
Remember this is bear and cougar country so please take the usual wildlife precautions.