While Saanich boasts some of the region’s most popular beaches, including those at Cadboro Bay and Cordova Bay, you’ll find a lot of less-populated landscape to discover as well. In fact, Saanich has 37 beach accesses around the municipality!
And of course, exploring local beaches offers far more than sun and sandcastles!
Full ecosystems are at work here and it’s essential that we’re aware of the delicate balance between all things, whether below water, in the intertidal zone or in those spaces where land and sea meet, notes Maia Watson, with Saanich Parks.
“Marine life starts on the sand and gravel beaches, and extends far out into the ocean, and without sand and gravel, our marine food web would fall apart,” Maia says, urging beach-goers to learn more about these unique ecosystems, but to think twice before removing that keepsake rock or shell, which could be providing a home or shelter for various organisms.
Ready to explore? Here are a few sandy spaces awaiting discovery…
Cadboro Bay – The showpiece of Cadboro-Gyro Park, this large sandy beach is a regional favourite. You’ll also find many amenities, including picnic areas and a large, well-known playground with unique climbing features including the Cadborosaurus, octopus, fish and pirate ship, along with activities like swings and a zipline.
Named after the Hudson’s Bay Company brigantine Cadborough, which sailed into the bay in 1837, the area around the beach became a seaside resort in 1900, before eventually coming under the wing of Saanich Parks. The concrete “Caddy” sea monster was created after sightings in the 1930s of an 80-foot, snake-like sea serpent with the head of a sheep or horse.
Mount Douglas – This long, rocky beach is accessed via the trail from the beach parking lot near the intersection of Cordova Bay/Cedar Hill/Ash roads. Ideal for exploring, expect to see beached logs and marine life from crabs to river otters.
In addition to beach activities, you’ll find washrooms and picnic areas, plus a playground and a variety of trails around the park and to the summit across Cordova Bay Road.
Cordova Bay – Below the playground and picnic table along Cordova Bay Road, access Cordova Bay Beach – a mix of sand and pebbles popular with swimmers, sun bathers and paddle boarders.
Named for Puerto de Cordova – originally the name the Spanish gave to Esquimalt Harbour in 1790 – Hudson’s Bay Company transferred the name to its current Saanich location. Formerly more of a summer retreat, following the Second World War, Cordova Bay transitioned into a year-round residential area.
Glencoe Cove-Kwatsech – This neighbourhood beach in Gordon Head is a great place to expand your natural intelligence and learn about intertidal zones, Maia notes. In addition to the beach access, find benches and trails.
Once the site of a village of the Lekwungen people, “Kwatsech” is the Songhees name for Gordon Head, and middens are found in the upper slopes of the South Beach zone. In cooperation with the Songhees First Nation and Saanich residents, the community is committed to ensuring the cultural, historic and ecological integrity of Glencoe Cove – Kwatsech Park is respected and maintained for future generations.
Start your beach explorations with Saanich Parks, where you can find all beaches and parks here.
Wondering what that plant or creature is? Pick up a Greater Victoria Naturehood map at your Saanich Recreation Centre, or print it here. You can also download the iNaturalist app to take along on your journey!