Updated: Sep 11, 2021
When it comes to choosing my next destination, there are a few factors I like to keep in mind. The most important is always choosing a place to go based on who I am going to be traveling with. Other factors include personal interests, things to do, location, and more.
I especially love to explore small towns and less-known areas, as I find that there is a charm to these types of places, that can't be found in big cities.
A few months ago, an opportunity came up in British Columbia and it meant that I could spend the next 6 months in another province. I could not pass it up, though it was a new adventure for me, since I have never been to this part of British Columbia - Vancouver Island. With four days to pack my life for the next 6 months, I decided to look at where I could explore on time off. A quick Google search let me to the most popular places: Tofino for surfing, Victoria for its popular afternoon tea at The Empress, and more. The sentence that caught my eye while reading more about the island referred to the many small towns that are spread around the island and how it happens to be one of the best places to visit.
So on my first set of days off, that's exactly where I ended up! In a small seaside community, where the rainforest meets the sea and only a short drive (about 40 minutes) from Victoria!
I planned a trip to the small seaside village of Sooke for one reason - to relax. I had worked for three weeks without any days off and all I wanted was a getaway where I can slow down and relax. That's exactly what Sooke was for me.
What is there to do in Sooke?
Vancouver Island is an outdoor enthusiast's dream destination as it boasts of natural beauty and wildlife everywhere you look. As for Sooke, not only is it known for its 'unspoiled beauty', it is also home to scenic routes by the water and lots of hiking trails.
1. SPEND A DAY IN OR ON THE WATER
Whether you want to spend a day swimming at the Sooke Potholes or you just want to chill by the beach, you can do both. If you prefer to not get wet, you can also opt-in for a whale watching tour or rent a kayak/canoe and tour the beautiful surroundings.
We spent some time at the beaches and the potholes, which happened to be only a short drive from our hotel. The parking at the potholes was cheap, only $2.25 for the day. Parking was free at the beach and the other places we visited.
There are a few beaches to explore, such as:
French Beach Provincial Park
2. SUPPORT LOCAL
We stopped at the visitor centre once we reached Sooke since we wanted some more information on hiking trails and parks around. That same day, I happened to come across the sign for the Night Market, which was set to happen in the evening at the visitor centre.
The visitor centre also has a regional museum, with exhibits pertaining to local history. While the museum is free to explore, donations are accepted.
In the peak summer months of June-September, the locals host a night market on Thursdays from 5 pm - 8 pm. Parking can be quite restricted during those hours, thus it is best to come early or park a little further away and walk over.
Local vendors include small businesses selling their crafts, arts, soaps, food trucks, and a few baked goods to satisfy your sweet tooth. Types of food to expect include pad thai, Indian cuisine, mac n cheese, fish and chips, and more.
3. ENJOY FRESH CULINARY CREATIONS
I found the prices at the restaurants to be a little higher here, but every time I tried a new dish, I immediately understood why.
A friend had recommended Wild Mountain to me, which is why I had decided to visit. Though I really appreciated the friendliness of the staff and loved the views from the patio, I found the prices to be quite expensive (but totally understandable as they use fresh, organic and quality ingredients) compared to the other restaurants in town. They also had pretty unique dishes, such as a cold soup. Their crab ans crudités appetizer was one of my favourites.
I also quite enjoyed the breakfast at Weat Coast Grill, where I had one of the best pancakes to date!
4. SPEND TIME OUTDOORS
There is so much to see outdoors. It's where we spent most of our time. From parks, to a wide variety of hiking trails to choose from, to the different beaches.
As we intended on having more of a relaxing getaway, we didn't spend much time out on the hiking trails, though every spot we came across or drove to was so beautiful.
My favourite part has to be just driving with no exact destination in mind, but stopping along the way to take in the scenic seascapes and views that surrounded us.
5. STAY THE NIGHT
If you are looking to escape the bustling crowds of the city and slow down on your trip, then Sooke is the perfect destination for you! You can still enjoy and choose from different things to do while staying on a more relaxed schedule. The best part? Simply spend time by the water and soaking up the views are enough to make this escape worth it.
We stayed at the Prestige Oceanfront Resort Sooke, which sits near a Fisherman's Wharf and boasts of beautiful views of the water and mountains.
We intended on spending a night only, but ended up extending our stay by an extra night, since we loved the property. The resort is grand and the moment I walked in, I was taken aback by the decor of the lobby, which immediately gave me a seaside vacation feel. It reminded me a lot of the feeling I would get when I would walk in a hotel in Mauritius!
I have never experienced that in Canada before, or elsewhere in the world, which made it as special.