If we had to narrow it down to one thing that gives Victoria the special je ne sais quoi that draws visitors from all over the world, we’d have to say: the ocean. Sure, there are lots of beautiful beaches all over the world, but Victoria is special in that here, we have a magical mix of wild, untamed, natural beauty and forward-thinking urban development. There are lots of ways to enjoy the ocean while you’re here! You can head out onto the water and look for marine wildlife, take walks along the shore or sit on the beach and enjoy the view, but there’s one way to enjoy the ocean and get a little taste of what life on the water looks like – and that’s by visiting the marinas around town! There are lots of incredibly beautiful marinas dotting the water’s edge, and they’re a great place to wander around, look at the variety of boats from fishing vessels to elaborate sailboats to small yachts and houseboats, a visit to one (or more) of these ocean communities are a fun, unique way to spend an afternoon near the water!
By far the most well-known and popular marina that regularly welcomes thousands of guests each year is Fisherman’s Wharf. Located right on the edge of James Bay, this funky, houseboat and marina community is as colourful literally as it is metaphorically. The people here are incredibly welcoming, you can wander up and down the docks, watch seals pop their heads above the surface and even find some incredible food right on the docks at Smoke and Anchor BBQ, Barb’s Fish and Chips and Puerto Vallarta Amigos. It’s here that you can also find Eagle Wing Whale and Wildlife Watching Tours, rated one of the top companies for whale watching in Victoria for almost 15 years straight!
Victoria’s Inner Harbour is such an integral part of the downtown core, it’s easy to forget that it is a hard working marina! As you walk along the cobbled pathway next to the docks, you can look at all the boats that are moored right there in downtown Victoria. You’ll see sail and fishing boats as well as the occasional small yacht moored. This thriving community right in the heart of downtown has installed, security doors on the dock entrances to ensure the safety of the residents but you can still enjoy the view from the public causeway around the perimeter! Plus, you can grab a bite at the Milestones, right above the Inner Harbour and find some fun souvenirs at the shops at the edge of the causeway.
Just ten minutes’ drive from downtown in the beautiful neighbourhood of Oak Bay, you’ll find the friendly and upscale Oak Bay Marina. Here guests are welcome to take in the incredible view of Mount Baker, wander through the docks to look at the vessels and say hello to the curious harbour seals. Here, you can take part in many activities like kayaking and paddleboarding or book a fishing charter or whale watching tour and head out onto the open water! There is also a small eatery that you can pop into on a chilly fall day to grab a bite and a hot drink to warm you up after your walk on the docks. However, if you want to make your outing on the dock a little more special, head over to the Marina Restaurant for an incredible lunch or dinner with a view!
Right across the Victoria Harbour in Victoria West or Vic West as it is more often referred as, you’ll find the Victoria International Marina. This incredibly upscale marina plays host to the larger, luxury ships that grace our waters all year ‘round. This full-service marina is dedicated to creating an upscale, friendly, supportive, and welcoming environment to all the superyacht owners who choose to moor here. As a visitor to the marina, you can get an up-close look at some of the world’s most luxurious ocean vessels, enjoy the walk along the Songhees walkway to the marina and stop in at Boom + Batten, the restaurant right on the water. Here you can enjoy the view with some incredible cocktails and a menu that takes fresh, local ingredients and turns it into incredibly beautiful haute cuisine that is still unpretentious and approachable.
This little marina in West Bay is a lovely marine village right on the Songhees walkway. While it doesn’t have the amenities of the other marinas, it’s full of friendly people and is a beautiful addition to the scenery of this shoreline path.
Right around the corner of Sailor’s Cove Marina is the peaceful houseboat and harbour community of Westbay Marine Village. The folks at Westbay have created a progressive, lively, and embracive community with plans to expand! There are few true urban harbour communities that have active, permanent residents which makes Westbay unique!
In south Saanich, on the eastern side of the Peninsula, tucked away in a bay of the Saanich Inlet you’ll find this beautiful marina. Founded in 1975, the marina set its sights on creating a friendly and knowledgeable harbour for visitors and residents. Today, it’s a busy marina with travelers and permanent residents, who benefit from having a haven that is peaceful, clean, and inviting as well as one that is dedicated to environmentally conscientious practices. For visitors to the marina, it’s a beautiful way to experience the water and while you’re visiting, stop in and try some of the incredible New Orleans style food at Blue’s Bayou Café!
Right at the end of Beacon Dr. in the heart of Sidney, you’ll find the always bustling Port Sidney Marina. This popular, full-service marina provides locals and visitors with a dependable harbour in an excellent location. Here you can find services like yoga on the dock, custom golf packages, wine tours and wildlife tours. Or if you prefer to just go for a walk among the boats, you can! Afterward, head to the Surly Mermaid for some great casual food and friendly service.
As one of the largest full-service marinas in BC, this long standing, family-owned marina has been providing friendly service to all their clients since 1955! Here you can find a beautiful view of the Blue Heron Basin and watch the ships bob on the water. Right on the edge of the marina you’ll also find the Sea Glass Waterfront Grill, one of the best restaurants in Saanich! This is a perfect spot for a special evening to sip some great wine and enjoy the view.
For over 100 years, this cove has been a stopping point for mariners to find safe haven and supplies on the shores of north Saanich. With an impressive array of services for boaters and a custom-built boat lift, this marina is staying ahead of the times while still honouring its history. If you’re looking for a marina to explore at the tip of the Peninsula while also having activities and dining options, this is the place for you! Here you can find eco-tourism, yacht charters and sales and kayak and paddleboard rentals! Feeling peckish? No problem! The Stonehouse Restaurant & Pub offers their guests casually elegant, farm-to-table dishes in a charming heritage home right on the edge of the water. At Porto Osteria, you can find luxurious Italian dishes and an impressive wine list in an elegant setting, the perfect way to end a beautiful fall day on the docks!