Willows Beach

Address

Near Beach Drive and Estevan Street in Oak Bay
Victoria , BC

Review

If you need a peaceful break from all the action in downtown Victoria, check out beautiful Willows Beach. Just a few minutes by car or bus from the city centre, Willows is a long, broad stretch of powdery white sand that is sadly missed by most visitors to the area. Its shallow, protected waters are a safe and ideal place for kids to burn off energy while Mom and Dad relax and take in the glorious views of Discovery Island and Mount Baker. When the kids have had enough sun, there’s a well-equipped and shaded playground adjacent to the beach. Check out the Oak Bay Tea Room, where you can enjoy tea, scones and an ocean view in a casual atmosphere at very low prices. (Open summer only).

Until about 100 years ago Willows Beach was the location of a major First Nations settlement. Archeologists tell us that "Sitchanalth Village" thrived here for about 2,500 years before European settlers arrived. The location was perfect to take advantage of the abundant deer, elk, clams, and salmon upon which their livelihood was based. Then, as today, the area offered a much sunnier, dryer climate than the surrounding regions.

Walk north on Willows Beach and up some stairs to take in the view from Cattle Point. In the 19th century the many farms in the area needed livestock, but there were no docking facilities in the area. The boats were therefore forced to unload their cargo into the sea just off this point. The surprised animals would then have to swim ashore in the icy water to the waiting farmers.

Inland from Cattle Point is lovely Uplands Park. Wander the trails through one of the last remaining Garry Oak forests, a rare and endangered ecosystem, unique to dryer parts of the Pacific Northwest.

If you’re hungry, walk a few blocks south on Beach Drive to the Oak Bay Marina. Here you’ll find two good restaurants, one casual and the other somewhat formal, both with excellent views. The café will sell you small frozen herring to feed the (almost) tame harbor seals, which can be seen cavorting and splashing just under the ramp leading to the docks. Watch those fingers!
Written By: Richard Brunt
On: 7/12/2001

Directions

From downtown Victoria take Fort Street eastbound. Fort turns into Cadboro Bay Road. Turn right on Bowker Avenue for two blocks to Willows Beach. Or take bus number 1 or 2 and ask the driver to let you off at Willows.

Features

Kid Friendly | Bathrooms | Picnic Area | Picnic Tables | Soccer Fields | Swimming Areas | Walking Trails | Wheelchair Accessible
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