Just north of Victoria on the Saanich Peninsula, Island View Regional Park is a lesser-known but very beautiful spot to spend an afternoon. It features a long stretch of sandy beach with nice calm water for swimming and lots of driftwood for those who like to get creative, and visitors will also find an open grassy field that is perfect for tossing the frisbee or flying a kite. There are lots of picnic tables, including a covered picnic area and a nice walking trail through the grasslands adjacent to the water, which creates the opportunity for flat and easy loop when combined with the beach itself.
Island View is a great spot for birdwatching; there are a wide variety of migratory and resident shorebird species nesting in the wetland/shrub ecosystem. It’s unlikely to see whales here, but seals and sea lion sightings are not uncommon, and the east-facing beach offers great views of the Haro Strait and Mount Baker. The sunsets at Island View are surprisingly beautiful given that the sun doesn’t set over the water but behind the beach. You won’t see the sun sinking toward the distant horizon as you would at a west-facing beach, but the landscape to the west is rather flat, allowing Mount Baker and the eastern sky to light up pink and orange and reflect back across the water. There’s also a small campground in the park with a total of 47 sites, which is open from Victoria Day weekend until Labour Day weekend each year.
The island to which the beach’s name refers is James Island, which once was the site of a TNT production home to over 800 people but is now a 315-hectare private luxury resort with an 18-hole golf course, an air strip, a 5,000-square foot mansion, and six guest cottages. The entire island is currently for sale for a measly $75 million.