Victoria Harbour Breakwater – An Adventure You Don’t Want To Miss – Year Round Fun!
The Ogden Point Breakwater is a major Victoria tourist attraction which is year round and FREE! There are few places in this world where you can walk out 850 metre (approximately one-half mile) into the ocean. The walk starts next to the Ogden Point Café at 199 Dallas Road (V8V 1A1). If you drive up Douglas Street (south) and turn right when you get to Dallas Road you will soon see it jutting out into the ocean. The Breakwater is very popular with locals and with tourists who take time to find it. The Cruise Ship docks are right next to the Breakwater, so many cruise ship passengers also walk the breakwater. The walkway has aluminium and stainless-steel railings on each side of the walkway for safety and there are two sets of stairs to take adventurous people down on to the granite blocks. Walking on the lower levels requires you to pay attention as it is uneven and there are large cracks between the blocks. You are likely to see more from the top, however being down below allows you to see into the cracks and crevices where many marine creatures live. There is an information kiosk on the West side of the Breakwater with ecological information. A recent addition of the Recently Na’ Tsa’ maht (The Unity Wall) is an effort by the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations to bring their history to the forefront and bridge culturals.
As you walking out the breakwater keep watching the surface of the water near the granite blocks. You just never know what you will see. Seals are common. Sea Lions also appear from time to time and on occassion whales come close to our shores and have actually gone into the Inner Harbour. Large jellyfish are common in the summer months. The marine traffic passing the end of the breakwater is amazing.
When you are done with the Breakwater, take a stroll along the Dallas Road waterfront for more great sights. As I wrote this post, it was 10C and sunny and almost the end of November. This is our winter and generally the worst time of the year for weather. We have been getting very good winter weather over the last couple of years.
Views Around the Breakwater
Be sure to check out these sights around the breakwater. The Breakwater Cafe and Bistro which is at the entrance to the Breakwater walkway is a great place to have lunch or snacks. If the weather is inclement you can sit inside an watch the views sipping on a warm drink. The Breakwater and the Dallas Road shoreline is a great place to “storm watch”. If your in Victoria and the wind is blowing, be sure to check out the Breakwater. It is an excellent place to storm watch. If you walk out on the Breakwater during a storm, you are likely to get soaked. Watch what is happening as the waves can go right over the top of the Breakwater and if conditions are like that it is very dangerous! Best to watch from shore on those days. The waves sometimes break over Dallas Road as well. The Rotary Park just off Dallas Road at the drive in entrance to the Breakwater and the parking lot, you will find this amazing little park where you may want to sit and enjoy the surroundings. Across the parking lot is the Ecological Kiosk display. Check it out. Below are some pictures taken over the years of the waves during storms.
As you walk out on the breakwater look down often into the water along the granite blocks. You just don’t know what you may see. The octopus below decided to eat a gull for lunch. It must have been hungry! The abalone in the large picture was high and dry after the tide went out and it seemed like it was dancing. The shell above the meaty foot was gyrating back and forth. There are lots of barnacles on the breakwater. If you can observe them closely by going down on the granite blocks when they are just barely in the water you can observe them feeding. They have feeding appendages, called cirri, which are jointed and set with sensory hairs. You can see the barnacles open and close as they feed. You can see star fish, jellyfish, seals, sea lions and maybe passing whales. There are tons of fish down there but you have to scuba dive to see them and all the other life below the visible kelp beds. This is a great and accessible dive site. You are like to see divers getting in to the water or out of the water or you may see bubbles coming to the surface as they pass by.
Over 200 cruise ships visit Victoria and the most our port can handle is three at once. On some days, there are four with one waiting for another to depart before docking. Each year the number that comes gets bigger because people around the world are discovering Victoria. If you are coming into Victoria be sure to enjoy our Breakwater. It is part of what makes Victoria one of the more interesting Port stops. Notice that even the “Mouse” knows where Victoria is and is a regular visitor. A travel agent from Los Angeles once told me that his wife thought Victoria was like Disneyland but without the rides!
Be sure to bring your camera on your Breakwater experience as there are some amazing views available as you take the half-mile into our ocean. I would personally like to thank our American neighbours for providing us with a spectacular backdrop to our city, the Olympic Mountains. Thanks!