This 9,000 inhabitant village sits on the pretty Sooke Harbour, and lies about 25 kilometres west of Colwood. The town is named after the local Indian tribe T'Soke. This is western Canada's southernmost harbour, protected from the ocean seas by narrow Whiffin Spit. In 1864, miners were dropped off here to work the gold mines on the Sooke and Leech rivers, about 16 kilometres upstream from the sea. The gold rush lasted a year with $100,000 in gold extracted from the area.
Sooke continued to grow as a logging and fishing community, and hosts the All Sooke Day (third Saturday in July) which trumpets its logging heritage. The Sooke harbour is about 5 kilometres long, before the waters widen into the larger Sooke Basin. The harbour is excellent for paddling. Often fishermen sell their catches fresh from their boats.
Highway 14, also known as the Sooke Road, heads west from Victoria and takes you to some rugged Pacific shoreline along the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. The paved road continues to Port Renfrew which is 107 kilometres from Victoria. The attractions here are listed from east to west.
Much of the recreation in Sooke is focused on the water, on its protected harbour. The community also has an arena, a museum, and access to the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, which extends from View Royal through Sooke up the Sooke River to abandoned Leechtown. Sooke also has the John Phillips Memorial Golf Club, just north of the town centre.
To the south of Sooke is 1,422 hectare East Sooke Park, which has many kilometres of trails along the coast, and up to the various peaks in the park. Also close by is Roche Cove Regional Park, on the east side of the Sooke Basin.
Sooke Region Museum and Art Gallery
Highway 14, on Sooke side of Sooke River Bridge (14 km from Colwood)
This museum provides an interesting look at pioneer life, with costumed actors. Buildings include the Moss Cottage, and the reconstructed Sheringham Point Lighthouse. Exhibits include logging and fishing artifacts, Coast Salish items. Open year-round except Winter Mondays.
Albert Head Lagoon Park
Dutnall Rd (Metchosin Rd right on Farhill, south on Duke)
This 7 hectare park is a wildlife sanctuary with a pebblestone beach for picnicking and sunbathing. The lagoon north of the beach is home to an abundant wildlife population, including some swans. The park has excellent views of Albert Head (which is used for a National Defence establishment), Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the Victoria skyline.
Witty’s Lagoon Regional Park
Witty Beach Rd (7 km from Hwy 14 on the Metchosin Rd)
This 56 hectare park is a birdwatcher’s paradise with shorebirds like great blue herons (even seals) hanging out on the sandy beach. The park also has big stands of Douglas fir, some creeks and Sitting Lady Falls. The park has picnic grounds and 5 kilometres of marked trails through the forests and leading to a sandy spit into the sea. Witty’s Nature House is open year-round, with extended summer weekday hours.
Devonian Regional Park
William Head Road
This 13 hectare shore park is 5 kilometres past Witty’s Lagoon. It is tucked between two farms, and has walking and riding trails. The park is great for picnics, beachcombing and birdwatching.
Matheson Lake Provincial Park/Roche Cove Regional Park
Matheson Lake Park Rd (off Rocky Point Rd)
This provincial park, lies on the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, and has trails through cedar groves that circle the lake, as well as fishing, canoeing and swimming on the lake. The park is connected to Roche Cove Regional Park, which is on the Sooke Basin (and accessed from Gillespie Rd, east of Sooke), and offers saltwater recreation.
East Sooke Regional Park
Becher Bay Rd (south of East Sooke Rd)
This large 1,422 hectare park covers some rugged terrain between the Sooke Basin and the Juan de Fuca Strait. The park has extensive old growth forests including Douglas fir, sitka spruce, shore pine and arbutus. The habitat supports extensive wildlife including bald eagles, otter, mink, and killer whales. The hills in the park rise over 270 metres above sea level and provide sweeping views of the water. There is a challenging 10 kilometre long Coast Trail, which takes you from one end of the park to the other in about 6 hours.
Whiffen Spit Park
Whiffen Spit Rd, just west of Sooke
This 1200 metre long spit protects Sooke’s harbour from ocean seas. Vicious storms in 1983 and 1984 split the spit, preventing access to the spit during high tides. In 1989, the local community funded repairs which again made the whole spit accessible.