Botanical Beach is a marine research laboratory for the young. There are tidal pools filled with life at low tides that reveal a whole new world. The beach and pools are located on the westcoast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada in the small Village of Port Renfrew, BC.
Botanical Beach is not your typical beach with flowing white sand. No, it is a rocky beach and it is part of a, much larger, 1,528 hectare Juan de Fuca Provincial Park. Botanical Beach is also the northern trailhead entrance for the Juan de Fuca Trail backpacking adventure.
Although it is a hot spot for families to learn more about the marine life on the west coast. The beach has always been a popular destination for real scientists since the early 1900s. The varied ecosystem is still visited by researchers today from close a far, from University students to acclaimed researchers.
The north end of Juan de Fuca Park is home to Botany Bay and Botanical Beach. Arrival is best when timed with low tides. At low tides, the beach is a great for exploring marine inter tidal life. The flat rock on the coastline is made of sandstone. For years boulders have been tossed by storms onto the soft surface forming the tidal pools.
Each tidal pool protects a mini ecosystem consisting of Green Sea Urchins, Giant Green Anemones, Chitons, Red Sea Urchins, Hermit Crabs, Purple Shore Crabs and more. The large population of sea urchins living in the sandstone chisel away at the surface forming the smooth round edges. A life cycle of a tidal pool.
The forest surrounding the beach consists of Western Red Cedars, Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock. The forests floor is covered in thick groves of salal, deadfall trees, ferns and moss. The Port of San Juan is very enclosed therefore creating a mist which funnels into Botanical Beach. This mist can sometimes hinder visibility. The mist will also linger around for hours, even days, blanketing the nearby forest in a wet dew creating slippery and muddy trail conditions.
Botanical Beach is accessed via two trails. Both starting form the parking lot. There is a short 1 kilometre trail that directly leads down to Botanical Beach. It is downhill and slippery at times. The other trail is a 2.5 kilometre route connecting to Botany Bay. It is a loop route eventually connecting back to Botanical Beach.
The park is protecting sensitive marine species. Please do not remove anything from the beach. It is illegal. Always dress in layers as weather changes fast on the westcoast. Do not play near the surf as rocks are slippery and the under tow is scary powerful.