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Mystic Beach on Vancouver Island: Everything You Need to Know

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“Later, we found out that both of us were thinking the same thing at exactly the same time as we stood, staring up at the waterfall. It looked like liquid gold from the sun bouncing off it and lighting up the wet rockface behind the water. We had found paradise.”

If you have every been to Vancouver Island, you’ll know that it has a wild and stunning coastline. Mystic Beach is a hidden gem on Vancouver Island as you need to hike along part of the Juan De Fuca trail to reach it.

It is one of the most beautiful waterfalls on Vancouver Island.

couple standing at waterfall on beach at sunset

The beach is fairly small and very wild, where elephant seals are often spotted! There was even a sign last time we were there warning us of a juvenile elephant seal in the area!

Mystic Beach is known for its beach waterfall, a small waterfall running off the cliffs straight into the ocean. The waterfall makes for great photos, especially at sunset when the light is hitting it.

The journey to Mystic Beach involves a 2km hike through the forest. Dogs are allowed on the trail and at Mystic Beach but need to be on a leash.

Mystic Beach is located on the South West Coast of Vancouver Island, near the small town of Jordan River, BC. From Victoria, it is a little over an hours drive to Mystic Beach.

Other than Mystic Beach, there is loads more to do and see in Jordan River, making it a great place to spend the weekend. It’s neighbouring town, Sooke, is also a great alternative for accommodation if you want to explore this part of the Island but not go entirely off the grid. We have visited both of these towns separately and fell in love with the area.

This guide will provide you with everything you need to plan a trip to Mystic Beach, including details of where to park, the muddy trail to get there and how to find the beach waterfall!

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Mystic Beach on Vancouver Island: Hiking and Camping Guide

📃 Hike Stats

Distance: 4km / 2.5 miles
Time: 2 hrs 
Elevation: 65 metres / 213 ft
Dog Friendly: Yes, on leash
Toilets: Yes, in the carpark

📍 Where is Mystic Beach

Mystic Beach is located on Vancouver Island about 1 hour from Victoria. To get there from Vancouver, you will need to catch a ferry across to the island and it will take you around 3.5 – 4.5 hours in total depending on ferry times.

Girl on BC Ferries

The most direct way to travel from Vancouver is by ferry from Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal to Swartz Bay.

Then, from Swartz Bay, you will take BC 17, followed by Highway 1 N turning off onto the Juan De Fuca Highway/BC 14 W. This road will then take you all the way to the China Beach carpark, which is where you need to park for Mystic Beach.

From Swartz Bay ferry terminal it is about 1.5 hours drive to the parking lot.


For Mystic Beach, you will need to park in the China Beach user trail parking lot. Once you turn off the road into the carpark, take a right hand turn immediately. This is the Mystic Beach parking lot. There is more parking further on and on the left for China Beach.

Click here to open the map in Google Maps!

How to Get to Mystic Beach Without a Car

If you don’t have a car, that’s okay! There is a bus available called the West Coast Trail Express which I recommend booking in advance.

The bus runs every day from May 1st to September 30th and every other day from October 1st until May 15th.

This bus service leaves from Victoria and stops in Sooke, China Beach (which is where you will get off for Mystic Beach), Sombrio Beach and Port Renfrew.

The Trail from China Beach Carpark to Mystic Beach

Once you have parked, Mystic Beach is a bit of a hike to get to. If you are going in Spring to see the waterfall, the trail will most likely be extremely muddy so don’t wear your favourite white shoes.

The trail is 4km / 2.5miles return but for us the amount of mud made it feel much longer. It should take you around 1 hour to reach the beach, but potentially a bit longer if there is a lot of mud to navigate.

Follow the markers on the trees but also make sure have some sort of navigation device with you such as AllTrails offline maps.

In the super muddy sections of the trail, there are planks of wood and logs that have been placed there to help you cross without getting too muddy.

You will know that you are almost at the beach when you come to a long staircase. Take the staircase down and make sure you are careful as it is quite steep and soon you will see the first views of the ocean and the beach!

Couple standing at sunset at Mystic Beach

🥾 How Hard is the Trail to Mystic Beach?

Although the trail is quite short, the amount of mud and exposed roots on the trail does make it a little more challenging than it would be otherwise.

Some kids may struggle a bit with the roots and mud, but most kids over the age of 5 should be able to do the trail.

I would rate the trail to Mystic Beach as easy – moderate in difficulty.

📆 When is the Best Time to Visit?

Time of year: The best time of year to visit Mystic Beach is in the Spring, when the waterfall is flowing. In the Summer the waterfall is usually more of a trickle and much more underwhelming.

Time of day: Low tide is a good time to visit, so that you can walk under and past the waterfall easily.

Tip: For photography, we found that sunset was an amazing time to be at Mystic Beach. However, if you decide to visit at sunset, make sure that you are properly prepared with headlamps and bear spray. You are in bear and cougar country so please take the usual wildlife precautions.

🧭 How to Find the Waterfall

Mystic Beach’s waterfall is not too hard to find. Once you have made it down the steep staircase, turn left to walk along the beach.

The waterfall is near the end of the beach. You can’t miss it because you will have to walk straight past it to reach the other side of the beach.

When it is low tide, you can walk past the waterfall pretty easily without getting too wet. Just past the waterfall is a pretty cool sea cave!

⛺ Camping at Mystic Beach

Mystic Beach is part of the Juan De Fuca multi day 41km trek and so many people who do the long hike, choose to spend the night here.

If you would like to camp, you need to reserve a spot through BC Parks. The cost per adult per night is CAD10.

Bear-proof food caches are available at the Mystic Beach but make sure you also bring your own in case the one at the beach is full. There is also a pit toilet (BYO toilet paper).

There is no drinking water available at Mystic Beach so you will need to bring along a

Pro Camping Tip: Make sure you pitch your tent on the beach rather than disturbing the vegetation in the forest, but make sure your tent is placed far enough back from the water so that you don’t get wet when the tide comes in.

There are lots of other beaches that you can also camp at along this coastline, such as Sombrio Beach, Chin Beach and Bear Beach.

Beach with waterfall flowing into the sea at sunset on Vancouver Island

🚻 Facilities at Mystic Beach

The facilities at Mystic Beach are minimal. Apart from the toilets located in the parking lot, there are a pit toilet at Mystic Beach and also a bear cache for campers to store their food and smelly items in overnight.

Make sure you bring plenty of food and water with you, especially if you are camping.

🌲 Leave No Trace

Whenever you are enjoying the the beautiful nature that our world has to offer, remember to leave no trace (LNT)! Respect the beautiful places that make British Columbia beautiful and take out everything that you take in, take only photos and respect the wildlife and other people.

You can read more on the 7 LNT principles here.

🎒 Packing List Ideas for Your Adventure!

If you are planning on hiking to Mystic Beach in Spring, you want to make sure you have warm waterproof clothing and shoes, preferably boots to keep your feet dry.

  • Hiking Boots – Hiking boots are great for muddy, slippery hikes and Jordan River is a very wet part of the world! Kerry’s loves the Oboz Bridger Mid B-Dry Boots and Dave’s favourite boots are his Scarpa Kailash Plus Gore-Tex Backpacking Boots.
  • Hiking Socks – Good hiking socks are important to make your boots as comfortable as possible! Our favourites for hiking in Spring when the weather is a little colder are the Smartwool Hike Classic Edition Full Cushion Crew and the Darn Tough Hiker Midweight with Cushion Micro Crew socks.
  • Micro Spikes – For Winter and late Spring if it is still icy. Our micro spikes slip onto the bottom of our boots and have come in really useful on some of our adventures! Ours are from Black Diamond and Kahtoola.
  • Merino Top / Tee – Merino is a great material to hike in so we use Merino tops to hike. Our favourite Merino tops are from Icebreaker!
  • Fleece – When hiking in Winter, Spring and Fall, we like to layer up because when you stop to admire the view, it usually gets pretty cold. My favourite fleece is the Patagonia Better Sweater 1/4 Zip.
  • Puffer Jacket – We love our puffer jackets to keep warm at the beginning of a walk and then once we are at the viewpoint. Dave’s favourite puffer jacket is the Arcteryx Cerium LT Hoody and Kerry’s favourite is the Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket.
  • Rain Jacket – Because Spring weather is pretty unpredictable, we recommend bringing along a raincoats as they come in handy a lot of the time!
  • Beanie – We never go anywhere in Winter, Spring and Fall without our beanies! Some of our favourites are from Dakine and Eddie Bauer.
  • Day Backpack – Our favourite backpack for day hikes is the Osprey Tempest 20 Backpack.
  • Bear Spray – You are in bear and cougar country. Make sure you are well up to date with wildlife safety.
  • Your Camera Gear! We never go anywhere without ours!

For a full guide containing all of the things we take hiking, check out our hiking gear guide!

girl walking along cabin

🛌 Places to Stay Nearby

There are loads of gorgeous places to stay near Mystic Beach. Some of our favourites are:

East Sooke Treehouse – We have stayed here and were blown away by the detail in this cabin!

Owl’s Perch Treehouse Private Treetop Escape – Another incredible looking treehouse cabin which is on our list!

💭 Our Thoughts

Our trip to Mystic Beach was an adventure and we loved dipping in and out of the waterfall! We went for sunset and walked back in the dark which we probably wouldn’t do again because it felt extremely wild.

We think that camping would be a better option which we will definitely do next time! The beach feels so secluded and during Spring there were not too many tents there.

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