Victoria, BC is a land with much to do, and with limited time, it’s hard to decide just which excursions really are a must. Here are some of our suggestions to save you a lot of precious time!
DayTripper Magazine loves a great family story, and boy have we got one whale of a tale for you! Family owned and operated Springtide Whale Watching tours is phenomenal. It’s a great adventure and the family operating the business works hard to try to provide the most personable experience possible (albeit with up to 80+ passengers on their boat at a time).
How do they do it? First, they offer two choices of sailing vessels. Passengers may choose from the high-speed Zodiac, or the comfortable cruiser that includes “indoor plumbing,” complimentary beverages indoor/outdoor seating.
They also go out of their way to connect with their passengers. Capt. Dan steers everyone straight to the whales for viewing, but is approachable for questions and a chat along. Further, his daughter, Carleen, is on board meeting with each and every passenger assuring their needs are met, and engages in authentic conversation whether it be about the whales or travel or whatnot. They really make you feel like your experience on board is their top priority, because it is!
Then there’s the actual whale watching aspect. This tour reels in people from all over the world. Mother and daughter, Eiant and Ella Baru from Israel decided to take this tour to enjoy part of Canada’s culture. As Ella, 15, explains, “When we heard about it, we knew it would be special and we knew we may never see them again, so it (is) a great opportunity.”
Her mother, Einat, adds, “This is the perfect vacation for us. We live in the desert, so this is so different and it’s amazing (since) we don’t have the ocean. (The whale watching) is the highlight of our trip.”
Denmark couple, Svend Christensen & Ingrid Petersen were back for whale watching a second day in a row, only they sailed with a different outfitter the previous day. Ingrid explains their prompt return, “I think it was so exciting and breathtaking. I’ve never seen a whale so close, only in the zoo, and I may never see (them in the wild) again.” When asked to compare the whale watching companies, she said she likes Capt. Dan much better, because “This captain gets in closer” to see the whales.
Whale watching is an excursion for people of all ages. Scott Gregory, from England, shared he was on the boat because, “My dad lives here (in Victoria), but we live in England and just thought it would be great to come see the whales.”
Scott’s well-mannered and delightful young son, Axel, revealed this was his first whale watching experience and he was enjoying “seeing the humpback whales.” He added, “I like how they dive deep with their tale in the air and how they breathe with a big splash of water!”
Splashes were aplenty this voyage, with fortunate sightings of both humpback and killer whales, the Springtide Whale Watching tours were a huge hit with passengers of all ages!
OUR MAJOR TIP: WEAR SUNSCREEN!!! PERIOD. And bring lots of layers to wear!!!
PS: Be sure your camera isn’t on “selfie mode” the whole time!!!
What can I say about Butchart Gardens? I honestly think it’s pricey for a visit to a garden. That said, I enjoyed visiting it—TWICE!
I’m sure you think that’s nuts, but let me explain. Butchart Gardens puts on a pretty cool fireworks show, complete with synchronization to music. At the time of this writing, however, the show is only on presented on Saturday nights. If that wasn’t enough, there’s a really cool water fountain show in the Sunken Garden with amazing lighting that this writer thinks was even better than the fireworks. Plus, seeing the famous Sunken Garden at night is an extremely enchanting experience that you most likely will never forget.
Now what you need to confirm before you go is if Butchart Gardens is still offering the “return the next day” for just a few buck or so more special admission opportunity. Here’s why: If you want to do all kinds of other fun things on a Saturday in Victoria (see our DayTripper Day Trip Recommendations), you don’t have to miss the fireworks show! Instead you can arrive in time for the show, then return whenever you want the next day to view the gardens in the day. (Because seeing the gardens in the daylight is a totally different experience).
Go for your first visit no earlier than twilight. You’re going for that mystical night-time experience here. The return the next day in broad daylight to enjoy the burst of color everywhere! Seriously, we think we appreciated the gardens more by visiting it at night first. It allowed our senses not to be tainted, from seeing the full color first. When we returned the next day, we were in awe of what we were seeing—it was like two different parks! You just gotta trust us on that!
SIDENOTE: We got a great tip from locals to go find the hidden hut in the Japanese Garden. This was fun. Especially because the hut is kinda right out in the open, but when you figure out how to get there, no one else can! Send us photos when you find it, it’s even better than Pokemon Go, because you become the Pokemon!!! So GO!!!
Our favorite “four-lettered f-word” here at DayTripper Magazine is: FREE! We love free, especially when it for something that enhances our vacationing experience. In Victoria, there’s an adventure for most everyone that is fun, free and fantastic! It’s hiking Mt Douglas.
One thing you must know about this hike, it’s all uphill on the way to the top…don’t let the short-term “flattish” trail fool you at the beginning, because once this 1-mile hike begins to go up, it will feel like 8 miles! (Don’t say I didn’t warn you)!
But here’s the deal: IT IS WORTH EVERY SINGLE STEP to get to the top! The 360° view at the summit is breathtaking—and not just because you’re exhausted from reaching the top! Simply gorgeous.
Now for those of you who are already tired just thinking about this hike, here’s the best part—you can enjoy most of this stunning scenic splendor by driving up to the top! You’d still need to hike a bit to get the 360° experience, but what you can see just off the small parking lot at the top, ain’t too shabby! (Be sure to check park hours before you go)!
RENT A BIKE-
Victoria’s beautiful landscape begs to be explored and what better way to do just that than on a bike? Whether it be motorcycles, scooters or bicycles, we found Cycle BC Rentals & Tours to be a fantastic outfitter for all your 2-wheeled needs!
This rental store, owned by Ander Gat, is located near & behind the Empress Hotel. It’s friendly and knowledgable staff will get you all set for an outing to suit your interests and timeframe. (2 hours, half day, full day, overnight..you name it, and they will work with you)!
Biking in Victoria is great for singles, couples and familes, but with our “parent hat” on, we would recommend a carry bike ride over to Beacon Hill Park for families with little ones. It’s a beautiful setting where you will find many enjoying the scenery and the shady gardens.
For a short day trip on bike (about 2 hours give or take), and for “Tweener through adults, we recommend riding the Dallas Road route to Oak Bay and back. HEADS UP: There are lot of stretches where you must share the road with automobiles, so be alert!
NOTE: There are rolling hills all over this area, with a couple extremely steep ones. So if you hear it’s super flat from ANYONE, do NOT believe them. This ride will most likely cause you to break a sweat, like it did for this editor! (So here’s a tip, don’t do this a few hours before you are taking a plane home and you no longer have your room to go re-shower in. Not saying I did this…but I profusely apologize to those of you who had to sit near me on the plane home from Victoria).
(SEND US YOUR VICTORIA PHOTOS!!! We want to see what you did. Email us, Facebook us, Instagram us or Tweet…but please remember to #DayTripperMag your message!!)