Everything You Need to Know about Visiting Sooke, BC
Sooke BC, is a highly underrated small town located on the South Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. It is about a 45 minutes – 1 hour drive from Victoria.
You probably want to know, why you should visit Sooke. Well I’m here to tell you! Sooke is an outdoor lovers paradise as there are so many adventurous activities to do and beautiful places to see. There is also some really yummy food near Sooke with the best pizza I have ever eaten, but I will get into this later on in the guide.
If you are desperate to stay in a cute cabin somewhere in the forest, Sooke is also a great place for this! You need to make sure you book ahead of time, but there are a lot of gorgeous cabin stays in Sooke.
In this guide, I will provide you with a list of cute cabin stays, beautiful viewpoints and great hikes as well as where to find the best food in Sooke! I will also give you information on how to get from Vancouver to Sooke, as it might seem overwhelming trying to figure out which ferry you should be taking to Vancouver Island.
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A bit about Sooke, BC
Sooke is a small town with small town vibes right next to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Sooke is most well known for the Sooke Potholes, which is a great place in Sooke for a swim in Summer and which also has some nice trails to take a walk. For being so close to the major city, Victoria, Sooke is a great place to spend the weekend to get some fresh air and enjoy the outdoors.
How to get to Sooke
You can drive yourself to Sooke from Vancouver using the BC Ferry system, or, if you are staying on Vancouver Island, I recommend booking this private tour which takes you through Sooke and along the coastline all the way to Port Renfrew, stopping at some of our favourite beaches on Vancouver Island.
How to get to Sooke from Vancouver
From Downtown Vancouver, it can take you around 3.5 hours to get to Sooke by car. The trip to Sooke does include a ferry over to Vancouver Island which we recommend booking in advance. The most efficient route to get to Sooke from the city centre is by getting the ferry from Tsawwassen to Victoria (Swartz Bay).
Alternatively, you can take the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo, however this route will end up taking you longer. These estimated trip times are based on leaving from downtown Vancouver. Depending on where you live, one ferry might work out to be the faster choice. Check this on google maps before purchasing your ferry tickets.
If you decide to take the ferry, make sure you get to the ferry terminal to check in more than 30 minutes prior to departure as they will give away your time slot to someone else if you are late.
Route 1 – Preferred Route from Downtown Vancouver
Vancouver to Tsawwassen (Driving time): 40 minutes
Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay (Ferry Trip): 1 hour 35 mins
Swartz Bay to Sooke (Driving time): 1 hour
Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay (Driving time): 25 minutes
Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo (Ferry Trip): 1 hour 40 mins
Nanaimo to Sooke (Driving time): 1.5 hours
You can also fly from Vancouver Airport to Victoria International Airport and hire a car from there or take the bus along the West Coast Highway 14. I recommend driving to Sooke so that once you are there, you are able to adventure around Sooke more freely.
How to get to Sooke from Victoria
Sooke is only about a 1 hour drive from Victoria. If you are driving, you will take the BC Highway 17 and Trans Canada Highway before turning onto the Juan De Fuca Hwy BC14.
If you plan on catch the bus from Victoria to Sooke, use the BC Transit website for the most up to date bus timetable.
Sooke is also accessible from Victoria by bike if you ride along the Galloping Goose Regional Trail.
How to get to Sooke from Nanaimo
The drive from Nanaimo to Sooke is about 1.5 hours.
Alternatively, you can catch the bus but you will need to transfer a few times. You can use the BC Transit website for the most up to date bus timetable and to plan your trip.
When is the Best Time of the Year to Visit Sooke?
Sooke is great all year round, however we actually love going there in Spring, when it has rained a bit more and we are in need of a cozy cabin weekend away. There are a few really beautiful waterfalls to visit nearby Sooke including the hidden Sombrio Beach waterfall which will be flowing best in Spring.
Best Restaurants in Sooke
The Best Pizza Ever
I know you are dying to try the incredible pizza that I mentioned earlier. We have stayed in both Sooke and Jordan River on separate occasions and been back to this pizza place twice now because it is so delicious! The pizza restaurant is called Stoked and is mainly takeaway but they have some really nice outdoor seating for you to enjoy your pizza and a beer in the sun. Stoked Woodfire Pizza is located a 20 minute drive from Sooke. Check Stoked’s website for their opening hours as they do close earlier than your average downtown Vancouver restaurant. Stoked also closes for the Winter season and opens again for the year in April.
Shirley Delicious is a breakfast / brunch / lunch cafe located pretty close to Stoked so a 15-20 minute drive from Sooke. Their menu includes an amazing choice of hot breakfast options, Focaccias and of course coffee.
Route 14 is a great place for lunch or dinner and is located in Sooke. Their menu consists of steak, burgers, seafood and more! Check out their menu here.
Best Cabin Stays in Sooke
Sooke seems to have an abundance of awesome cabin stays! For all cabin stays, you need to make sure you plan your trip and book well in advance as they tend to book up quickly. Some of the best cabin stays in Sooke are:
East Sooke Treehouse
The East Sooke Treehouse is located in East Sooke. East Sooke is actually about a 30 minute drive from Sooke but if you are looking for an awesome cabin to spend the weekend at, the drive is so worth it! This cabin has been actually built into the trees surrounding it, hence the name “treehouse.” It also has an outdoor bathtub and propane firepit. We were really impressed with this cabin. You could tell the owners look after it and it looked almost new!
Check prices and book here
Point No Point Resort
Point No Point is located 25km past Sooke with incredible views of the ocean! They have lots of different houses and cabins to choose from and are a great option if you have a big family to cater for. The cabins also each have their own private hot tubs and there is a restaurant on site where you can order take away.
Check prices and book here
Owl’s Perch Treehouse Unique Treetop Escape
Yes, another treehouse, but they are just so awesome! We haven’t stayed here yet but it’s on our list!
Check prices and book here
Camping in Sooke
If you are on a tighter budget, camping is a great way to save some money. There are a couple of good campground options in Sooke.
10 Fun Things to do in Sooke
Sooke is a beautiful part of the world and is home to some of the most stunning coastline and marine life. There are loads of amazing outdoor activities from great hikes to mountain biking trails to spending time out on the water in a kayak or you could even go on a whale watching tour! Sooke has many hidden gems in the form of natural beauty. You just need to get out and explore to find it!
1. Sooke Potholes Provincial Park
Go for a walk in Sooke Potholes Provincial Park or in Summer, you could even go for a swim or bridge along your paddleboard. The park is located along the Sooke River with unusual rock formations that were formed by glacial ice millions of years ago. There are some amazing places to swim, waterfalls, hiking trails and a campground if you wish to stay overnight. There are toilets located in the parking lots and dogs are allowed in the park but on a leash only.
The main hiking trail in Sooke Potholes Provincial Park takes you along the river and is a great Summers day activities if you plan on swimming. Along the river, you will come to lots of difference swimming holes that are only accessible by foot. The trail is 8.8km return and will take you around 2 hours 20 minutes to complete if you choose to walk all the way.
The river water is crystal clear and in the Fall a lot of the trees surrounding the river turn orange so it is a beautiful sight.
I recommend this private tour which will take you to Sooke Potholes as well as some of the most amazing beaches on the Juan Du Fuca Coastline during a full day adventure!
2. Walk Down to Sheringham Point Lighthouse
The Sheringham Point Lighthouse is a picture perfect lighthouse located near the town of Shirley, about 20 minutes from Sooke Town. The turnoff to the parking to the lighthouse is right next to Shirley Delicious Café. Be careful on this road as it does become quite narrow in sections!
If you are following the GPS directions, make sure you set your destination as per the map in this guide. Don’t type in Sheringham Point Lighthouse directly into google maps because this will take you to a gate at a private property residence which you cannot enter.
Once you have parked, the walk to the lighthouse is only 500m and will take you around 10 minutes. Start by walking down the forest trail. You will soon reach a road with a gated fence on the other side. Go through the open gate (open in daylight hours) and continue walking down the path. Once you reach the lighthouse, take some photos, have a break and watch for whales and seals. They are not uncommon here. We saw loads of whales in the distance when we visited in late October. It was very exciting!
3. Take a Day Trip up the Coast to Port Renfrew
Spend an entire day driving up to Port Renfrew and back. It is just over an hours drive if you drive all the way from Sooke to Port Renfrew without stopping. There are lots of amazing beaches to stop at as well as hiking trails as this area is where the popular Juan De Fuca Trail is. Juan De Fuca is a multi-day 47 km hike which takes you along the Southwest coastline of Vancouver Island. Some must see beaches along the coastline are Mystic Beach, Sombrio Beach and Botanical Beach. All of these beaches involve a bit of a walk to get to the water.
A common question that is asked is, “Is the road from Sooke to Port Renfrew paved.” We can confirm that the entire road is now paved. You might however, turn onto some gravel roads depending on where you stop along the way. Sombrio Beach for example is down a gravel road.
Stops you can’t miss along the road from Sooke to Port Renfrew!
Located just past Stoke Woodfire Pizza, you have to pop over to French Beach for a couple of photos. It is so wild, beautiful and just perfect.
The next place you need to stop at is Sandcut Beach. Sandcut Beach is one of a few special beaches along this coastline with beach waterfalls! The beach is about a 10 minute walk (400 metres) from the parking lot. The trail to reach the beach is quite rooty and has quite a lot of stairs so the uphill on the way back will leave you catching your breath. If you want to find the beach waterfalls, you will need to add another 10 minutes one way onto your walk. Once you reach the beach, turn left, and continue for around 500metres until you reach a couple of small waterfalls flowing off the rocks and out into the ocean.
Mystic Beach is my favourite! It’s a muddy 4km roundtrip from the China Beach carpark down to the beach. The hike to the beach will take around 2.5hrs because of the mud and tree roots. Once you reach the beach, turn left and the waterfall is near the end of the beach.
Sombrio beach has its very own hidden waterfall. I don’t think we had ever seen a beach quite so wild and beautiful. Trying to find the hidden waterfall on Sombrio Beach makes for a fun adventure. Check out our guide on how to find the waterfall here!
Botanical Beach is just past Port Renfrew and is famous for its beautiful tide pools where you can admire all varieties of marine life! Try to make sure you go at low tide so that you can walk around easily and look into the rockpools. Look but don’t touch! Don’t even put your hands into the water of the pools as touching the water in a tide pool with sunscreen on your hands can kill the creatures living there.
Juan De Fuca Provincial Park is home to an abundance of marine life and wildlife, including black bears and cougars. Make sure you are up to date with your wildlife safety knowledge and carry bear spray with you at all times when hiking on Vancouver Island.
4. Go on a Whale Watching Tour
Head out to the Juan de Fuca Strait and search for Orcas, Humpbacks, Gray and Minke whales on a 3 hour whale watching tour. The best times of the year for whale watching is from July to October.
In addition to the whales, you might also see Harbor Seals, Elephant Seals, Dall’s Porpoise, Harbour Porpoise, California Sea Lions, Stellar Sea Lions and bald eagles. Book your tour with Port Renfrew Whale Watching here!
5. Take a stroll at Whiffin Spit Park
Whiffin Spit is a beautiful spot for a casual walk to enjoy the fresh air and being by the ocean. Whiffin Spit is located on the edge of Sooke Town and is a natural peninsula with a short 2.7km walking trail. From the peninsula, you can see the stunning Olympic Mountains in the USA rising up over the Juan De Fuca Strait.
It is a popular spot for photographers and bird watchers and is dog friendly. The walking trail is made from gravel and gives you views of the ocean on both sides. At the end of the trail, you will find a small lighthouse. Keep your eyes open for marine life as you gaze out across the ocean.
The parking lot is quite small and can get quite busy as it is a popular spot, but it also has high turnover so you won’t have to wait long for a park. There is a pit toilet available as well as a water fountain and bike rack.
6. Go Zip Lining in Sooke!
Soar over an incredible west coast forest on one of the scenic zipline courses at Adrena Line Zipline Adventure Tours. The tour runs for about 2 hours and includes an exhilarating 10-minute ATV ride to the top of our course!
7. Go Bike Riding along the Galloping Goose Trail
The Galloping Goose Trail runs through stunning forests and you can actually ride the trail all the way from Victoria to Sooke! The entire trail is 60km one way or you can choose to do little sections.
❗ Fun Fact: The Galloping Goose Trail was formally a freight railway line built during the First World War.
8. Go on a Kayaking Adventure
Mystic Beach Adventures have a list of different kayak or sup tour locations to choose from! Book in a 3 hour adventure or rent a own kayak or sup to take out on your own!
9. Hiking in Sooke
One of the best places to go hiking in Sooke is in the Sea to Sea Regional Park. There are a couple of great trails in this park that take you up two different mountains, Mount Brule and Mount Manuel Quimper. From the top, you can see out all the way to the Olympic Mountains!
Mount Brule is a little shorter and overall easier that Mount Quimper. Mount Quimper takes you up to a fire lookout and is recommended to be hiked counter-clockwise.
Mount Brule: Distance 6km return Elevation Gain 308m Time 2-2.5 hours Dogs allowed on leash
Mount Manuel Quimper: Distance 10.5km loop Elevation Gain 478m Time 3.5 hours Dogs allowed on leash
If you are looking for an easier hike, the Galloping Goose trail is a great choice! The most scenic sections of the trail are near Sooke Potholes and at the Trestle bridges along the trail which make for some fun photos.
10. Mountain Biking in Sooke
Like the hiking trails, there are some great downhill mountain biking trails for all different experience levels located in the Sea to Sea Regional Park. Alternatively there is the Galloping Goose Trail which is more family friendly and great for beginners.
Packing List for Sooke
- 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 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 on the trails. 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. Our favourite fleeces are the Patagonia Better Sweater 1/4 Zip (Kerry’s) and a Mac Pac Fleece from Australia (Dave’s).
- 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 – If you are visiting Sooke in any season other than Summer, we recommend bringing along a raincoat 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.
- Kerry’s Leggings – Kerry wears leggings on every adventure and her favourites are the Lululemon Align pant.
- Day Backpack – Our favourite backpack for day hikes is the Osprey Tempest 20 Backpack.
- Your Camera Gear! We never go anywhere without ours
Sooke is such a great place to get away to escape the busyness of the city. We absolutely love how close you are to nature there and the huge variety of outdoor activities that are available.
Another favourite spot of ours to spend the weekend in is Jordan River. Unless Sooke, Jordan River has no cell reception so its truly a place to unwind and disconnect.
You might also enjoy these other Vancouver Island adventures:
- The Ultimate Jordan River, Vancouver Island Weekend Itinerary
- The Ultimate Weekend Itinerary for Tofino, BC
- Cox Bay Lookout: The Best Secret Viewpoint in Tofino
- Mystic Beach on Vancouver Island: Everything You Need to Know
- 5 Unique Waterfalls on Vancouver Island That You Need to Visit
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