Located on the Saanich Peninsula of Greater Victoria, Saanichton is well known for flowers and rose gardens. Bed and breakfast homes and riding stables are nestled alongside parks, campgrounds, old-growth forests and small farms.
This area was first inhabited by the Wsanec First Nations people, who now live in four communities on the Saanich Peninsula; Tsarslip, Tsawout, Pauquachin, and Tseycum. The Saanich Peninsula today is a bountiful countryside where rural and urban lifestyles blend together.
Location: The community of Saanichton is situated on the Saanich Peninsula, 22 km (25 to 30 minutes) north of downtown Victoria, 5.5 km (8 minutes) south of the Victoria International Airport, and 13.5 km (15 minutes) south of the BC Ferries terminal at Swartz Bay (connects Victoria with Vancouver). The village of Saanichton is west of the Pat Bay Highway (Hwy 17), at the junction of Mount Newton Cross Road and East Saanich Road, with outlying farmlands extending east of the highway toward Saanichton Bay. Saanichton and neighbouring Brentwood Bay fall under the Municipality of Central Saanich.
The Saanich Historical Artifacts Society tells the story of farming, country life and industry on Vancouver Island, with rural artifacts dating back to the early 1800s. View one of Western Canada’s largest collections of working steam engines, tractors, agricultural machinery, antique farm equipment, historic buildings, and household and industrial artifacts. The society hosts an annual Summer Fair on the farm and museum grounds, held on Father’s Day each June, and Fall threshing on the third weekend in September. The 29-acre park offers picnic tables, nature trails and a pond. Located at 7321 Lochside Drive in Saanichton, alongside the Pat Bay Highway, between Victoria and Sidney.
The Saanich Pioneers Society manages the Log Cabin Museum on East Saanich Road in Saanichton. The museum contains a collection of Native and pioneer artifacts, and local archives. Activities include school tours and public education in the history of the Saanich Peninsula. Open Mondays and Saturdays, 10 am to 2 pm. Open at other times by appointment.
The annual Central Saanich Days celebration is held at Centennial Park on BC Day Weekend, the first weekend in August, sponsored by the Central Saanich Lions Club. Festivities include pancake breakfasts, hay rides, face painting, children’s games, a petting Farm, a slowpitch tournament … and lots more!
Centennial Park on Wallace Drive features a lacrosse box, soccer pitches, baseball and softball fields, picnic shelters, horseshoe pitches, tennis courts, a bowling green, a children’s playground, and the Centennial Park Fieldhouse.
Island View Beach Regional Park is located on the east side of the Saanich Peninsula in Saanichton in Central Saanich. Follow Island View Road east from Hwy 17 a short distance to this gentle cobble- and driftwood-strewn beach. Good views of James and Sidney Islands, and beyond to Mount Baker, make this a pleasant, no-charge alternative to taking the ferry to Sidney Spit Marine Provincial Park. An unbroken string of small islands seem to fold into each other offshore. If you get bored watching the action from the shore, there’s wildlife viewing in the open fields behind the beach.
The best access to the beach is at the entrance to the park and from the parking lot on the north side of an adjacent private RV park. (Note: The entire beach is public.) Locals use the beach area north of the park fronting Indian reserve land for discreet, clothing-optional tanning. The beach leads a long way north to the tip of Cordova Point. Island View Beach is a favourite beachcombing area, and a boat ramp is conveniently located at the entrance to the park. Paddle over to nearby James Island, and from here to Sidney Island and beyond.
Picnic tables are thoughtfully placed in the forest above a pond in John Dean Provincial Park. Beside the tables rises a small but stately stand of virgin Douglas fir. This is a good place to have a snack before exploring farther in the park. Follow the right-hand trail from the parking lot as it leads downhill, and bear right at a junction that it makes a short distance farther. The picnic tables are located here as the trail continues downhill towards another stand of fir beside the pond. For the most dramatic effect, continue on around the pond, which acts as a mirror for the tall trees. To find the park, north of Saanichton, head west from Hwy 17 on McTavish Road to East Saanich Road, then south on East Saanich to Dean Park Road and follow this road to its western terminus, where trails begin from the parking area.
Biking: The northern trailhead of the Lochside Trail is near the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal. The picturesque multi–use Lochside Regional Trail, formerly a railway line, stretches from Swartz Bay to Victoria, passed beaches, farmland, and wetlands, down country lanes and beside suburban backyards. The trail has a more civilized personality than its more rural cousin, the Galloping Goose Trail, to which it connects near downtown Victoria. While some parts of the Lochside Trail are off-road, and others downright pastoral, in some places trail visitors must share paved or gravel public roads with motor vehicles and farm vehicles. Along the way it passes near Island View Beach Regional Park, a good place to take a detour and relax on the beach.
A series of rough roads and dike trails doubles as bike pathways in the marsh inland from Island View Beach Regional Park. Just begin pedalling out along one of the trails that lead from the beach into the marsh. Some of the trails eventually lead through the marsh back out onto the north end of the beach. Unfortunately, once there you won’t make much headway, as your tires sink in the sand.
Hiking: When you hike the trails in John Dean Provincial Park, you are following some of oldest in the provincial park system. You are also following in the footsteps of the local First Nations people who, legend has it, rode out the great flood atop Mount Newton (1,007 feet/302 m), or Lau Welnew, the back of a whale. There is great hiking here for those who admire old-growth forests. At heart of this park are some the largest Douglas fir that remain on the south coast of Vancouver Island, as well as a mix of grand fir, western red cedar, Garry oak, and arbutus. Five hiking trails of varying degrees of difficulty and length cross the south and east face of Mount Newton.
Explore here in spring to see a vivid display of wildflowers native to British Columbia, including drifts of blue camas lilies, which carpet the understorey, as well as red Indian paintbrush and white erythroniums. Wildlife flock to the food-rich forest, and from the top of Mount Newton, you can watch as ravens, red-tailed hawks, bald eagles, and turkey vultures put on a colourful display of soaring techniques. The summit of Mount Newton is renowned as the place to watch some of the best sunsets in British Columbia.
Golf: The Victoria area boasts 8 championship golf courses in close proximity, including Cordova Bay Golf Club, Olympic View Golf Club, Gorge Vale Golf Club, Royal Colwood Golf Club, and Bear Mountain Golf and Country Club. Nearby Oak Bay has the Victoria Golf Club and Uplands Golf Course.
Victoria Golf Vacations.
Vancouver Island Golf Vacations.
James Island shelters the waters of Cordova Channel in front of Island View Beach Regional Park. Kayakers can paddle over to nearby James Island (about 0.6 mile/1 km), and from there to Sidney Island (about 2 miles/3 km) and beyond. Note that James Island is privately owned and should only be viewed from the water.
The Saanichton Christmas Tree and Ostrich Farm on East Saanich Road offers a 1-hour tour of Christmas tree and ostrich operations. Discuss different types of Christmas trees, stump culture, and collect fir cones for decorations. Open from October to December.
Immediately to the north of Saanichton is the seaside town of Sidney. Sidney-by-the-Sea is a bustling community, a friendly port with modern marinas and a multitude of unique galleries, gift stores, antique shops, restaurants, bakeries and coffee bars. It appeals to those who enjoy both seafaring excursions and land-based adventures alike, and there are several interesting attractions in and around this pretty little resort town. Attractions include the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre and the Sidney Spit Provincial Park, accessed by a short ferry ride.
The rapidly developing village of Brentwood Bay on Saanich Inlet is home to the world-famous Butchart Gardens, and Victoria Butterfly Gardens. Brentwood Bay is also a jumping-off point for kayakers, canoeists and mountain hikers.
The Brentwood Bay/Mill Bay ferry is a convenient 25-minute route across the Saanich Inlet for those travelling to or from the Swartz Bay terminal and destinations north of Victoria. This scenic route bypasses Victoria and the Malahat, providing a convenient connection to Highway 1 north of the Malahat, particularly when the Malahat is closed due to an accident or heavy snowfall.