Travelling to Port Renfrew, BC
& things to do on the way
Welcome to the gateway to ancient forests, epic hikes and mighty surf — to the eagle, the salmon, and Sitka spruce.
Bjorn Holm (Port Renfrew) is located on Vancouver Island, off of Canada’s West Coast. If you are arriving from an international destination, you would book your flight to the Vancouver International Airport, Victoria International Airport, Nanaimo Airport or Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
There are water air charters available with direct landings at Pacific Gateway Marina. However, please note there is currently no taxi service in Port Renfrew. We highly recommend renting a vehicle at the airport and continuing by car. You’re in for a few treats on the winding road to Vancouver Island’s rugged west coast. We are approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours from both the Victoria International and Nanaimo Airports.
Alternatively, the island is serviced by multiple ferry services; direct via BC Ferries from Vancouver (Tsawwassen) to Victoria (Swartz Bay) and Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) to Nanaimo (Duke Point or Departure Bay); direct from the USA via Washington State Ferries and Victoria Clipper.
**Please note advance ferry reservations are highly recommended on all routes during weekends, holiday periods and summer months.
***Please remember to note the travel requirements to and from the United States by the U.S. Department of State.
Victoria to Port Renfrew
via Sooke (Option #1)
Victoria to Sooke
Sooke thru Jordan River to Port Renfrew
We recommend visiting:
Sooke Oceanside Brewery –How can you not try their “RENFREW” Red Ale?
Sooke Brewing Company – They have great seating space to sip and eat but it’s BYO Food.
Tugwell Creek Farm and Meadery – Born from a passion for bees.
Sheringham Distillery – Small batched hand-crafted spirits * drinking and driving is a serious “No-No” *
Shirley Delicious Café – Coffee, pastries, lunch with an awesome island attitude in the tiny community of Shirley.
Cold Shoulder Café (Jorden River) – Coffee ~ Sandwich ~ Surf
And of course, there are numerous beach stops along the way: French Beach, Jordan Beach, China Beach, Sandcut Trail.
A 2-hour trip just turned into a leisurely 4 hours minimum!
Victoria to Port Renfrew
via Duncan over the Malahat (Option #2)
Victoria to Duncan over the Malahat
Duncan to Lake Cowichan over the backbone of the island to Port Renfrew
Our recommended highlights:
Goldstream Provincial Park – Autumn Salmon Run at Goldstream Park – there is an interpretative centre.
Malahat Drive – Malahat View Points
Old Farm Market – Home of Local Produce
Cowichan Valley Meat Market – Run by the Quist family Farm in the Cowichan Valley ~~ Local farm-fresh meats.
Hill’s Native Art – Northwest Coast Native Art Gallery, Duncan, BC.
Red Arrow Brewery – Some of the best things happen over a beer.
Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit – A motorsports playground for performance driving enthusiasts ** You will need deep pockets for this experience of a lifetime.
Cowichan River Tubing –Tube the Cowichan River – A very different experience of a lifetime but exhilarating just the same.
There are numerous opportunities to stop, spot and photoshoot. Move through the landscape quietly and the “locals” (eagles, bears and elk) may show their faces. Even if they don’t, you know they are there. You’ll pass by the Harris Creek Sitka spruce site plus Lizard and Fairy Lakes as you near Port Renfrew.
The Last Few Steps to Bjørn Holm.
Once you arrived in Port Renfrew, continue along Parkinson’s Road turn right immediately past Tomi’s Café, then immediately left into Wild Coast Cottages. Slowly follow the road and take the first right; continue up the road as it gently climbs to the left. As soon as you catch glimpses of the ocean you’ll know you’ve arrived.
We are the first in the 4-plex – Unit 236 (left corner). Park directly in front of our unit – you will see the Bjørn Holm sign. Look for the bear welcome mat!
Things to Do & Explore
Port Renfrew is the gateway to ancient forests, epic hikes, and mighty surf – to the eagle and the salmon and Sitka spruce. From here, you can trek, paddle, comb the beaches or cast your line.
Frommer describes Vancouver Island as “a mountainous bulwark of deep-green forests, rocky fjords, and wave-battered headlands. For an area so easily accessible by car, the range of wildlife here is surprising: Bald eagles float above the shorelines, seals and sea lions slumber on rocky islets, and porpoises and orca whales cavort in narrow passes between islands”.
Enlarge our map to explore all the sights and trails Port Renfrew has to offer!
History of the Area
This is the home of Pacheedaht First Nation, descendants of the area’s first inhabitants, the Nuu-chah-nulth people, who have since blended with other sub-groups and are known as Tla-o-qui-aht as “changing” or “different”. Pacheedhat means People of Sea Foam.
The inlet where Port Renfrew lies was named Port of San Juan in 1790 by Spanish-Peruvian explorer Manuel Quimper. White/European settlers started carving out homesteads in 1859 shortly after the completion of Fort Victoria. These settlers re-named the area Port San Juan but mail confusion with the American San Juan Islands spurred the name change in 1895 to Port Renfrew in honour Baron of Renfrew, Prince Albert Edward; a supporter of settlement in the San Juan Valley.
This coastal community comes with a rich history in forestry and fishing. In 1923, the first large-scale steam logging operation began. In the 30s the Malahat Logging Company moved into the San Juan Valley; creating three camps for workers: Bear Creek, Harris Creek and Beach Camp. In 1957 and 1963 respective, the Harris and Bear Creek Camps were closed and their bunks moved to Beach Camp. You can see these small company homes still housing families. One surprising sight at Beach Camp is an old church with brown shingles and a tall bell tower, dating originally from 1875 from the vicinity of Duncan, rebuilt in 1909, then moved to its current spot at the entrance of Beach Camp in 1970. Called St. Mary’s Ecumenical Church, this wooden structure serves four faiths: Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, and United.
Logging, once the mainstay of the community re-focused in the 90s towards fishing and tourism. Port Renfrew rates are among the best salt and freshwater fishing in the world. Three distinct opportunities wait at both the mouth of the San Juan River and the Gordon River, the adjoining waterways and lakes, as well as a few miles offshore at the Swiftsure Bank.
Now we honour and respect the great outdoors and all she offers. We are surrounded by water: rivers, lakes, saltwater. All offer a walk on the wild side with memories for a lifetime. Super natural hikes abound throughout the Juan de Fuca and Carmanah/Walbran Provincial Parks. Stroll the Botanical Beach Park, a sensitive and unique ecosystem. This region is so biologically significant that the area has been used for research by a number of universities since 1901. All are within a short drive by car and easy walks.
Port Renfrew is a seaside community; the local wharf is its hub. It is a relaxed, friendly village always ready to help visitors enjoy their backyard of coastal, natural wonders.