tide pools, a shoreline full of life and fantastic
geological features impress visitors to Botanical Beach Provincial Park. The abundance of
wildlife was what drew Dr. Josephine Tildon to choose Botanical Beach as the location
for the University of Minnesota's marine station in 1900. For 7 years
researchers and students came from all over the world to study here. To get to the
station, a steamship would come from Victoria to Port Renfrew. From there it was on foot
on a very muddy and narrow trail to the station. A better road in to the station was
promised, however, it did not materialize and the difficult access was considered a reason
for the station's closure in 1907. There are few remains of the station left today.
Universities still use Botanical Beach for field trips and research, under park use
permits. The area became a Class "A" Provincial Park in 1989; the highest
level of protection to a park area.
Botanical Beach has 251 ha of upland habitat, but is
best known for its abundance of intertidal life. A visitor can find hundreds of species of
plants and animals. The organisms that live here must be able to handle a wide range of
conditions. When the tide is out there are large changes in temperature, predators, food
sources and salinity.
Each creature has adapted to contend with these
variable conditions. Organisms that can not cope with drying will survive in the
tide pools or in shaded crevices. There you will find congregations of sea stars, chitons and
anemones, the sea stars often piled together to conserve moisture loss. Barnacles, snails
and mussels are able to survive by closing up tightly with a small amount of water inside
There are some plants and animals that are specialists to
the high impact waves found at Botanical Beach. The Gooseneck Barnacle, an animal, and the
Sea Palm, a brown algae, are two of these. These organisms survive in the surf zone by
being attached to the rock with flexible stalks
that bend with the force of the waves.
They are just two of the thousands of species of marine invertebrates and algae that can
be found here at low tide. Click here for local
tide tables. A low tide of 4 feet or less is best for wildlife and tide pool viewing.
The area offers parking, toilets, information and picnic areas. A number of trails: Mill
Bay, Botany Bay, and Shoreline are suitable hiking for young children and the elderly.
Purple sea urchins have established a particular niche
in the soft sandstone. Their sharp, hard spines help to wear away indentations in which
Watch the Ocean
Whales and Grey Whales have often been observed swimming past the beach or feeding
just off the points. The best time to see Grey Whales is during their migration from
the Mexican coast to Alaska during March and April. Both California and Northern
Sea lions can be found here from late August through May. Harbour Seals are often seen offshore,
they can be recognized by their basketball-shaped heads bobbing at the surface.
The main tide pools and sculptured formations are formed
out of soft sandstone. Some of the park's tide pools are formed by wave-tossed boulders
grinding out pockets in the sandstone. Purple sea urchins further modify these
by grinding out small pockets. Ridges of shale and quartz jut up through black basalt, and
the southern cliffs form some of the most photogenic landscapes found on southern
Where exactly is it?
Botanical Beach is about a 12 minute walk from the
public parking areas just beyond Port Renfrew which is just over 2 hours by car from
Victoria - a perfect day's outing. The drive to this area is along the south-western
shoreline of Vancouver Island and is very scenic. Botanical Beach is also the northern
trailhead of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail
Sights and sounds of botanical beach
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Botanical Beach is a wilderness area:
Black Bear and Cougar may be present at any time. Black bears have NOT become used to
feeding on picnickers' garbage, so please pack your garbage out of the park. Cougars
normally avoid people and are rarely seen. Take precautions by leaving your small pets at
home and ensuring your small children do not venture alone into the bush areas.
Be cautious of the force of the waves. They
can be VERY DANGEROUS. Periodically and unpredictably a very large wave or a series of
waves will hit the beach. These waves can pull an unsuspecting park visitor into the
water. Please respect their power. Do not let children play near the surf.
Know what the tide is doing, and be aware of
escape trails if your route back is blocked by surf.
Visitors should be equipped with appropriate
outerwear and footwear for wet weather conditions and the very rocky and slippery
Remember that this is a wilderness area and
First Aid is NOT readily available.
There is no potable water available.
This is a pack-in, pack-out PARK. There are NO
All information courtesy of BC Parks, for further information please
South Vancouver Island District
2930 Trans Canada Highway
Victoria, BC V9E 1K3
BC Parks Telephone: (250) 391-2300