Sombrio Beach’s Hidden Waterfall on Vancouver Island
You will find some absolutely gorgeous out of this world locations and lots of amazing waterfalls on Vancouver Island. One of these is Sombrio Beach’s hidden waterfall, located on the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. I have got to say, when we found the waterfall, we really weren’t expecting much but were completely blown away when we saw it!
The total walk from the parking lot to the waterfall is 3.5km return and will take you about an hour altogether.
If you are dying to explore this awesome hidden waterfall, we recommend making a weekend out of it and staying in Jordan River. Jordan River is the perfect place for adventurers and you can use our Ultimate Jordan River Weekend Itinerary to plan the perfect trip!
Although the waterfall itself is somewhat “hidden,” it is definitely becoming more popular and when we were there, there was actually a bit of a line of people waiting to take photos.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about how to find Sombrio Beach’s waterfall plus more such as information on Sombrio Beach camping, wildlife in the area and other must see beaches in the area.
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📍 Where is Sombrio Beach
How to get to Sombrio Beach and Where to Park
To get to Sombrio Beach from Victoria, Jordan River or Sooke, you will need to drive along the West Coast Road towards Port Renfrew. You will reach the Sombrio Beach Trail Road which is a dirt road off the West Coast Road. There are no specific signs noted at the turnoff, however there is a sign 400m leading up to it. You can use the map below for directions if you are unsure of where to turn off.
Once you turn off the main road, you will drive down a fairly steep and windy dirt road for 1.8km. Watch out for the pot holes! There are a few, however we made it down pretty easily in our Hyundai Santa Fe and noticed that a smart car and a CARAVAN had also managed to get down to the carpark!
When we arrived at the carpark, we were surprised to find that it was pretty packed. As this is a popular area, we recommend trying to arrive first thing in the morning to beat the crowds. If the carpark is full when you arrive, don’t give up and just wait around for a bit longer as someone will be sure to leave.
Click here to open this Map in Google Maps!
⛱ How to Find the Hidden Waterfall on Sombrio Beach
The Trail from the Parking Lot
From the parking lot, you will start your walk on the trail that leads down to the beach. You will walk through a forested area that is mossy and beautiful. From the carpark to the beach, it is about a 10 minute walk (650m). Shortly after starting your hike, you will come to an intersection with the options of going to East or West Sombrio. Go East.
When you get nearer to the beach, you will pass some toilets and bear boxes. This coastline is a popular place for campers as it is part of the Juan De Fuca Trail which is a 3-5 day hike if you choose to do it all at once.
The Hike Along the Beach
Once you reach the beach, turn left. This is where your hike will become a little harder and slower as you now have to walk the rest of the way along the beach on the pebbles. The walk along the beach is around 1km one way.
You will pass a tiny creek depending on how much rain the area has had. A while after passing the first creek you will come to a second larger creek with a large opening. This is where you will need to leave the beach and start walking up the creek.
Once you enter this section of the walk, it’s not much further to the waterfall! Be careful because the rocks can get a little slippery!
🕐 How Long does it Take to Hike to the Hidden Waterfall
From the parking lot to Sombrio Beach’s Hidden Waterfall and back, it will take you 1 – 1.5 hours.
We found that walking along the beach was the slowest part of the hike as it was a little harder than the forest trail.
🥾 How Hard is the Hike to Sombrio Beach Hidden Waterfall
The hike is pretty short and straight forward. It starts out on a well-maintained forest trail until you reach the beach. You will then need to walk along the beach which is a bit of a mix of sand and pebbles. The walk along the beach is the hardest part of the hike because, well, walking on sand and pebbles is always hard. 😅
🐶 Are Dogs Allowed on Sombrio Beach?
Dogs are allowed on Sombrio Beach on a leash, so they can join you on your waterfall adventure and even camp on the beach with you.
🏕 Camping on Sombrio Beach
Sombrio Beach is a popular place for camping all year round. There are 3 different spots for camping, East Sombrio, Main Sombrio and West Sombrio. All of these spots along the beach have designated cleared dirt patches for tents, except for the West which also has a few wooden platforms for you to pitch your tent on!
There are toilets available in the parking lot and at both entrances to the beach along with bear boxes to store your food.
Can I reserve a campsite?
Camping on Sombrio Beach is on first come first serve basis. The sites do cost money which you can pay at the reservation box on site. There are park rangers that often frequent the sites, checking that campers have paid so don’t forget to do this.
🕐 Where is the Best Time to Visit Sombrio Beach?
Summer is a wonderful time to visit as the beach comes alive with campers and the weather is warm enough for you to go swimming or surfing in the ocean.
The off seasons are also beautiful at Sombrio Beach. Although too cold to swim, Sombrio’s waterfall is at its best in Winter and Spring and the beach is a lot quieter.
🏄♀️ Surfing at Sombrio Beach
Sombrio Beach is popular amongst surfers! The best season for surfing at Sombrio is Fall because the swell is “ridable” with light off-shore winds. Sombrio Beach can be quite exposed to huge winds and there are also a lot of rocks that you need to watch out for when surfing.
🐻 Wildlife in the Area
Sombrio Beach on Vancouver Island is black bear and cougar country. Make sure you are well up to date with wildlife safety and have some bear spray with you.
This coastline is a good one for whale watching. Grey Whales are often seen during April and May and Orcas also often visit the Juan De Fuca Coastline.
🌲 Leave No Trace
The most important thing to keep in mind when visiting stunning places like Sombrio Beach’s waterfall is to keep care to respect the environment and keep our beautiful world clean. Please please please Leave No Trace when visiting Sombrio Beach’s waterfall. You can find more information on the 7 LNT principles here.
👚 Sombrio Beach Packing List
- Hiking Boots or Trail Runners – My favourite boots are 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! Some great hiking socks are the Smartwool Hike Classic Edition Light Cushion Crew and the Darn Tough Hiker Midweight with Cushion Micro Crew socks.
- Micro Spikes – During Winter, you may want to bring along a pair of micro spikes if the trail is icy. We have a pair each in our backpacks on every hike we do in the Winter and they have come in handy more often than not.
- 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 – 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 favourites are the Eddie Bauer CirrusLite Down Hooded Jacket and Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket.
- Rain Jacket – Check the weather before you go, but if there is any rain in the forecast we recommend bringing along raincoats which can also double as a wind breaker.
- Beanie – We never go anywhere in Winter, Spring and Fall without our beanies! Some of our favourites are from Dakine and Eddie Bauer.
- Hiking Poles – if you prefer hiking with poles.
- Safety Items such as a first aid kit, bug spray, sunscreen, headlamps, a navigation device and bear spray.
😉 For a full guide containing all of the things we take hiking, check out our hiking gear guide!
Places to Stay Near Sombrio Beach
The closest towns to Sombrio Beach are Port Renfrew, Sooke and Jordan River.
There are some amazing accommodation options that you should definitely check out if you are planning on staying in Port Renfrew. These are:
- West Coast Trail Lodge – pet friendly, has its own restuarant and serves amazing breakfast
- Wild Renfrew Seaside Cottages – pet friendly, has its own private beach area, restaurant and each unit has its own patio
- Pair-A-Dice Cottage – your own chalet with a kitchen and views of the mountains
- Wild Coast Wilderness Resort – pet friendly cabins and suites
In Jordan River, there are also some amazing hotels!
- Arbutus Cove Guesthouse
- Prestige Oceanfront Resort, World Hotels Luxury
- SookePoint Ocean Cottage Resort
Other Awesome Beaches in Juan De Fuca Provincial Park
The South West Coast of Vancouver Island has a number of stunning beaches. Some other must see beaches in the area are:
- Mystic Beach – Mystic Beach also has an amazing waterfall which runs off the cliffs into the ocean below. At sunset, Mystic Beach is absolute magic!
- Botanical Beach – Botanical Beach is famous for its rockpools. It is a little hike to reach Botanical Beach where you can enjoy admiring the marine life in the rockpools all along the beach!
- Sandcut Beach
- French Beach
- China Beach
Other Useful Tips
- Wear waterproof hiking boots or waterproof sandals if it’s warm enough. You will most likely get wet.
- Respect other people who are also trying to enjoy the waterfall and take turns enjoying it.
- Be careful when driving down to the carpark as it is a bumpy ride!
- Dogs are allowed on Sombrio Beach but must be kept on a leash.
We absolutely loved this waterfall and think that it was 1000% worth the journey to get there. Neither of us had seen pictures of it before we saw it in real life and so we were extremely impressed! Our world is just so so beautiful! Sombrio Beach is also such a beautiful beach and we would love to go back to camp there one day!
If you love waterfall hikes, check out our guide on the Best 16 Waterfalls Near Vancouver!
You might also enjoy:
- Best 16 Waterfalls Near Vancouver
- Botanical Beach and its Incredible Tide Pools: Vancouver Island
- Mystic Beach on Vancouver Island: Everything You Need to Know
- 5 Unique Waterfalls on Vancouver Island That You Need to Visit
- The Ultimate Weekend Itinerary for Tofino, BC
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