If you’re eventually coming to visit Vancouver Island, you’re in luck! And by luck I mean that there’s tons of waterfalls on Vancouver Island to explore and photograph! Grab your camera, because it’s a sweet waterfall photography roadtrip through what locals consider the Wild West Coast of Vancouver Island.
Best Time of Year to View Waterfalls on Vancouver Island
The best time to view Vancouver Island waterfalls is Mar, April, Oct and Nov. If we have a wetter than normal spring and summer, waterfall viewing *could* be done through May, June and September, but don’t get your hopes up. All you might find is a small trickle where there was once a raging fall or even worse, not a drop of water!
Vancouver Island Waterfalls Quick Name List with Map Links
Vancouver Island Photography: What to Expect with Waterfall Photography
We live in a rainforest, which means, it rains all the time! What can seem like a sunny day can quickly become a sideways downpour so locals know to be prepared for anything. Always pack your water resistant or water proof clothing, camera bag cover and rain cover. Even a small towel can be helpful if it’s a real deluge.
Here is a list of the other things I recommend you to bring so you can create the best quality images.
Mary Vine and Tod Creek Falls
Starting out from downtown Victoria, you will want to head out Highway 1 – Trans Canada Highway going “up island”. Click on my link below for exact directions to this and all the other locations. Follow this, until you hit the intersection of the Highway and Westshore Parkway and turn left.
You will drive through the newly built neighborhoods and many roundabouts (always go straight through each roundabout) until you reach Highway 14, which intersects with Westshore Parkway. Turn right and keep going straight. Signs will direct you to Sooke Potholes Park, where you turn left.
5kms in, you will come to Sooke Potholes Park. Park in the first parking lot on your left. Across the road, you will see Tod Creek. There isn’t really any hiking required, although you might find the rocks slippery from waterfall mist so tread lightly.
Just a kilometre up the road is Mary Vine Falls. Look out for the old, decaying chimney on your left hand side and park just after that. Directly across the road is the access to the short but a titch steep hike up the Mary Vine Falls.
Space here to capture the waterfall from a good point of view is cramped. You might end up standing in the water here, so waterproof boots or shoes are a must.
Sandcut Beach Waterfall
Leaving Sooke Potholes, you turn right at the lights and drive through the Town of Sooke. There are many stores and places to get gas and food here. I suggest you do both as there is no gas station until nearly the end of your journey (which may or may not be open!)
Sandcut Beach is part of the Jordan River Regional Park. There is no charge for parking and washrooms at the small parking lot. This is a popular destination, so parking is hard to get during peak days/times. The hike to the falls is about 10 mins and its easy peasy.
This waterfall is seasonal: come after May/June and there is usually only a trickle if any water at all.
Mystic Beach Waterfall
This waterfall is one of those that needs to be captured during the optimal flow months of March, April, Oct, Nov.
This image was captured at dusk and as you can see, no waterfall streaming off the cliff!
2 ways to access this beach and seasonal waterfall.
The first way is to park at the China Beach Day use parking area in the parking lot on your right hand side. The trailhead is located by the washrooms and the wooden map board; you take the trail on the very right hand side through the rainforest.
The path takes you over a suspension bridge to cross Pete Wolfe Creek and over hiking terrain that is full of roots to navigate. At times the path isn’t too obvious so keep a keen eye out for worn areas and follow those. This way the hike is about 4 kms roundtrip and is considered intermediate. At the end, you decent a TON of stairs to the beach.
The waterfall streaming off the cliffs is on the left hand side. Also cool, is the sea cave on the far end of the right hand side of the beach.
The second way to the beach cuts off about 2 kms round trip of the forest hike and the suspension bridge. To get to the hidden trailhead you drive past the China Beach entrance for a moment or two and then you will come to a bridge labelled “Pete Wolfe Creek” .
Slow down here and pull a U turn and park on the grass/gravel right before the cement barrier on the left hand side of the road. Make sure your vehicle isn’t blocking traffic at all when you park. Now, look down through the bush and you will see a well worn path going down and to your right. That is the hidden bridge cut off path you can take.
Sombrio Hidden Waterfall
After leaving Mystic Beach, you turn left onto the Highway and carry on for what seems like 30 mins. The entrance to Sombrio Beach Parking area is clearly marked on the left. The road is gravel but you can navigate it with a 2WD. It’s free to park and visit for the day, overnight camping requires a 10$ fee payable at the trailhead.
You then walk down the path to the beach located next to the washrooms and turn left. You walk along the beautiful beach (best at low tide) for 4 kms roundtrip, admiring the surf and the vastness of the pacific. On a clear day you can see the Olympic Mountains across the water!
Running all year long, this waterfall can be reached another way for those who want to adventure and bushwack instead of walk along the beach. Just before arriving at the entrance to Sombrio, there is an old yellow gate, shrouded in greenery. It’s an old road, locked up and left to return to nature.
Park your car there, and walk in, following the road until you reach the end. Take a right into the bush and you’ll find a small trail that leads you down and towards the water. This trail is unmarked, muddy, and grown over; sturdy footwear is a must.
After about 20-30 mins you will come out of the bush and arrive almost right at the base of the waterfall! It’s a neat way to get to the waterfall while cutting out the 4kms roundtrip hike via the beach.
Known as the Tall Tree Capital Of Canada, there are numerous huge old growth trees that you can visit as part of your waterfall tour. But, they are truly a trip of their own. They include Big Lonely Doug, Avatar Grove, Eden’s Grove, Red Creek Fir, and the San Juan Spruce.
About 5 kms past Avatar Grove there is a road on your right hand side. Turn down this road and follow it until you come to a large clearing on your right. There you will see Big Lonely Doug. There is a path down the slope into the clearcut slash that you can follow to visit the base of this enourmous tree.
Once you are ready, you continue making your way down the road for a very short distance. On your left, you will see the waterfall below as you cross a small bridge. You can park on the side of the road after the bridge.
On the left hand side of the road, there is a small path that you can navigate all the way down to the cool swimming hole and waterfall pictured here. Careful though; on the other side of the waterfall is a pretty steep drop off into a series of pools that eventually lead into the forest below.
Map Tour to these 6 Waterfalls and A HUGE Tree!
Final Thoughts: Waterfalls on Vancouver Island
There are plenty of waterfalls on Vancouver Island that you can capture while immersing yourself in immaculate beach scenery, hikes through the rainforest, and old growth trees. All of them are available to photographers of any skill level and any gear.