Get To Know Port Renfrew

Port Renfrew2If you’re not already aquainted, Port Renfrew is a community on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, located approximately 2 hours’ drive west of Victoria, British Columbia. Port Renfrew is the western terminus of the Juan de Fuca Trail. Song and Surf and Tall Tree Music Festival also calls Port Renfrew home, proving to be a celebration of community spirit, the environment and artistic creativity

Port Renfrew is also the southern end of the West Coast Trail, a world famous hiking trail built in 1907 along the west coast of Vancouver Island to save shipwrecked sailors. During the days of sail, 1830–1925, 137 major shipping tragedies occurred in the immediate vicinity of the entrance to the Straits of Juan de Fuca. International recognition was given to this stretch of water off Port Renfrew. It became known as The Graveyard of The Pacific. Originally named Port San Juan, the settlers changed the name to honor Lord Renfrew who planned to settle crofters here. The name was changed due to mail being sent to the San Juan Islands instead of Port San Juan. Port Renfrew’s bay is still called Port San Juan. Like many coastal Vancouver Island communities, Port Renfrew has a rich history in forestry and fishing.

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Tourism and attractions

In recent years, Port Renfrew has seen an increase in tourism. The Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) has worked hard to locate and preserve some of North America’s largest trees located around Port Renfrew. This preservation is paying off as people from all over the globe are now witnessing Avatar Grove, and Canada’s “gnarliest tree.” The Red Creek fir, the worlds largest Douglas Fir, and San Juan Spruce, Canada’s largest Sitka spruce are also located in the area. Port Renfrew is filled with options that encompass all outdoor enthusiasts’ needs. Local natural attractions include the West Coast Trail, Juan de Fuca Trail and Botanical Beach. Port Renfrew is considered one of the best locations for salmon and halibut fishing in North America. There is also excellent sea and freshwater (San Juan and Jordin River) kayaking and birding. The AFA has worked hard to preserve the old growth trees, they are responsible for the locating of said trees. The locals of Port Renfrew have been enjoying those trails and forests for decades.

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Port Renfrew often surprises tourists as it appears on maps as a much more substantial town than it actually is, since it’s the only town within its vicinity: BC-14 is a dead end street ending at a federal government pier (although the road does continue for several kilometres past the town centre, ending at Botanical Beach, the north-west point of Juan de Fuca Provincial Park).The newly completed (2009) Pacific Marine Circle Route connects Port Renfrew to Lake Cowichan completing a South Island Loop for Victoria, Sooke, Port Renfrew, Lake Cowichan, Duncan and back to Victoria. Total driving time approx. 4.5 hrs