West Coast Waterplay

This coastline, extending from Sooke to Tofino, is one vast playground for people who love the sea. The fishing is so good it’s been described in numerous international angling magazines. Catch 40-pound salmon from Lighthouse’s shore, just steps from your home. All five species of salmon thrive in the waters below Lighthouse, with avid fishermen usually targeting coho and Chinook from May until September. Halibut and lingcod highlight the variety of species fished offshore. While the emphasis at Lighthouse is on tidal water fishing, there are also cutthroat trout available in the freshwater streams along this coast.

For a century, nearby Sooke has been a homeport for a fleet of commercial fishing boats. The Sooke River remains an important spawning ground for coho and Chinook and the Sooke Salmon Enhancement Society, a 100-percent volunteer organization, maintains a salmon hatchery that raises and releases many thousands of natural salmon into local spawning streams to ensure that when they migrate into the open Pacific the fish will return to this coast- line.

Fishing is just one of numerous ocean-based activities that are part of coastal life along this shoreline and every one of those activities is an exceptional experience. Oceanographer and adventurer Jacques Cousteau said, “the sea, once it casts its spell, holds you in its net of wonder forever” and, as nowhere else, that applies to this coast. At Lighthouse, you can consider your front deck a classroom. Resident orca whales, transient orca whales, humpbacks, greys and minkes all travel the Strait of Juan de Fuca. You can watch from home or book a seat aboard the brightly coloured inflatable watercraft that departs from both Sooke and Victoria¬† on whale-watching expeditions. At home, you’ll also observe sea otters, sea lions, harbour seals, several species of dolphins and porpoises as well as numerous species of marine birds including the bald eagles and herons that converge around Lighthouse.

The scuba diving at Sheringham Point is unique.The rocky point where the lighthouse stands and the large sub-tidal reef in front of the point are covered in marine life that thrives in the pounding waves and currents of the Pacific Coast. The reef is a haven for plumose anemones and encrusting hard corals and, beyond the reef, the sloping sandy bottom is carpeted with an amazing array of colourful marine life that will reward the experienced diver.

Nearby locations provide ideal conditions for surfing, wind-surfing, kite boarding and most recently, standup paddle boarding. Nearby Jordan River and Sombrio Beach are surfing hotspots. Storms originating in the Gulf of Alaska generate most of the tastier surf that lashes the coastline of British Columbia from late September through March. Other waves travel all the way across the Pacific from Japan or are caused by local weather conditions.

A variation on surfing is showing signs of doubling the appeal of the sport in the same way that snowboarding transformed skiing. Hoe he’e nalu, Hawaiian for standup paddle- boarding (SUP), is a rapidly rising global sport with a Hawaiian heritage that is now taking hold along the Vancouver Island coastline. Unlike surfing, paddle boarding is very easy to learn. Within one hour you can become very comfortable in the water and on your board.

Nearby Gordon’s Beach is the windsurfing and kite boarding hotspot. A word of warning…don’t start kite boarding unless you’re prepared to be absolutely hooked. If you’re not inclined to take to the waters, you can choose to just relax on your deck and watch the marine activity. Boating is another strong element of the aquatic culture along this coastline and it includes sailing, power boating and ocean kayaking. The best recreational boating is found around the tip of Vancouver Island,¬†in the U.S. San Juan Islands to the south and in British Columbia’s Gulf Islands that stand between Vancouver Island and the B.C. mainland.The Gulf Islands are made up of a dozen large islands interspersed with a multitude of islets too numerous to count.This archipelago is a taste of Mediterranean-style cruising comprised of sheltered waters, dramatic fjords and mountainous coastlines that knowledgeable boaters consider to be among the planet’s premiere cruising grounds.

And, for residents of Lighthouse, tiny Flea Beach and nearby French Beach offer the swimming, sun-tanning and beach combing experiences we all love. And the local seafood – Dungeness crab, oysters, cold-water clams, mussels and prawns – are part of an amazing culinary scene. There is nothing as deliciously elemental as a seaside meal.