REGION History

Originally named Port San Juan, the settlers changed the name to honour Lord Renfrew who planned to settle crofters there. Port Renfrew’s bay is still called Port San Juan. Like many coastal Vancouver Island communities, Port Renfrew has a rich history in forestry and fishing. Port Renfrew rates among the best salt and freshwater fishing in the world. For the sport fisher, three distinct locations vie for attention: the mouth of Port San Juan, the Carmanah/Nitinat waters, and the Swiftsure Bank. The San Juan River is home to hefty steelhead, as well as northern coho which averages twenty pounds.

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Places to Stay

Accommodations range from unique West Coast B&Bs to cottages, lodges, hotels and RV campgrounds. There are two local marinas available in Port Renfrew to meet your moorage or launch requirements. It is also the home of Vancouver Island’s best BC charter fishing, whale watching and sightseeing operators.

Botanical Beach

Wild Beauty

“Rich tide pools, a shoreline full of life and fantastic geological features impress visitors to Botanical Beach Provincial Park. The abundance of wildlife was what drew researchers to study the area. The area became a Class “A” Provincial Park in 1989; the highest level of protection to a park area. ”
Photo © James Wheeler
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From Victoria
Low Tide
Best Tide pool viewing
First Research station
Biological Habitat

More to see

“Breath taking panoramic ocean and mountain views with fishing, surfing, kayaking, hiking, biking, whale watching and more. The Sooke – Port Renfrew region, on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island has it all. Dozens of adventure operators and outfitters offer activities that can be affordably packaged with accommodation that offers the vacationing visitor options for every taste and budget.”

Port Renfrew


The best salt water fishing can be found around the Port Renfrew area in the Juan de Fuca Strait. Salmon are plentiful all year round, and also available is excellent bottom fishing of large halibut, ling cod and rock fish. While you’re on the water, keep your eyes wide open for eagles, seals, dolphins, Orcas and waterfowl. Charter fishers are available at great rates. They provide tackle, bait and (for additional charges) freezing, smoking and shipment of your catch.Take a Closer Look ›

Marine Life

Parkinson Creek

Marine Life

Parkinson Creek trailhead provides access to begin or end a long (ten kilometre) hike to Botanical Beach or a nine kilometre hike to Sombrio Beach. This moderate section of trail takes hikers through regenerating logged areas and old growth forest fringe and along the beautiful rugged shoreline and mature forest. Watch for marine mammals that frequent this area.Take a Closer Look ›

Big Trees

Avatar Grove

Avatar Grove is a phenomenal stand of giant old-growth red cedar and Douglas fir alongside the Gordon River. It is approximately fifteen minutes away from Port Renfrew and is within the traditional territory of the Pacheedaht First Nation. The area was recently declared off limits to logging through a new Old-Growth Management Area in February, 2012 after a two year campaign to protect it. It’s now quickly becoming the ‘Cathedral Grove of Port Renfrew’ due to the forest’s massive red cedars with huge twisted and contorted burls which are found in large numbers throughout the stand, including one that’s been dubbed “Canada’s Gnarliest Tree” – a giant red cedar with a huge burl nearly twelve feet in diameter!

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Ancient and Wild

“We have more than just Avatar Grove; there are several other old growth areas to see in this region where you can visit the gnarled trees. Some, such as the Red Creek Fir near Port Renfrew, are the largest of their species in the world! Growing as tall as skyscrapers and as wide as living rooms, these ancient trees can live for thousands of years and inspire wonder and awe in people around the globe.”

Handsome Dan’s Wild Coast Guest Cottages

Bed & Breakfast

Handsome Dan’s features cozy cottages in Port Renfrew, all within walking distance of each other, the Pacific Gateway Marina and the ocean. Five cottages are pet friendly and two are hypoallergenic. All our cottages sleep four except the “Port O Pierre” that can accommodate up to seven people when booked with the bunk house. All are comfortable and fully furnished with kitchen facilities, TV, DVD, WIFI, nice decks, BBQ and the most important, outdoor fire pit. Whether you come for fishing, hiking or simply relaxing, Handsome Dan’s is serious cozy!

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Port Renfrew – Kayaking


Oceans & Rivers

Kayaking in ocean waters when the weather is calm can be a good way of exploring the West Coast and the caves and arches near Port Renfrew. Or Paddle the sheltered waters of the San Juan and Gordon River or Sea Kayak the outside waters of Port Renfrew. Another world awaits. Tranquil tree lined rivers and inter tidal wetlands to coastal old growth along the ocean.

Launch Spots ›

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Coastal Experiences

Make sure you experience these wild coast array of things to tempt and taunt the senses.

  1. Distinctively Canadian

    Indulge your senses by viewing the most impressive Canadian Art collections, sampling uniquely local flavours, and experiencing our diverse history.

  2. Stay with us

    Whether you want to stay in a cozy bed & breakfast, cottage or inn, or upgrade to one of the many extraordinary resorts or vacation homes – we have it all. It’s easy to spend a relaxing or invigorating vacation here.

  3. Attend a Festival

    Art, music, and culture. Our region is a hot bed of activity year round. With the Tall Trees Festival, Bluegrass Festival, Sooke Fine Arts Show, our many Art festivals, Canada Day, Festival of trees and the Pacific Rim Whale Festival we celebrate our Island culture and environment.

  1. Hike the WCT

    The West Coast Trail is a world renowned backpacking trail. Open from May 1st until September 30th, this gruelling 75 km (47 mi) trek is well worth the challenge for the breathtaking examples of the West Coast of Vancouver Island.

  2. Sea To Sky Hiking

    Discover the raw beauty and uncharted nature of the CRD. From seasoned backpackers to amateur day hikers you can traverse up to the tallest peaks and back down to the rocky shores of the Juan de Fuca by hiking historical trails.

  3. Going Coastal

    Our Coast has long been inspiration to all kinds of musicians, writers and painters. It is not hard to see why – take a walk through ancient forests with gnarled trees and green canopies, explore hidden creeks and spot eagles taking flight or bears ambling through the undergrowth.