Cordova Bay Park and Beach is one of many beautiful beaches that surround Victoria, British Columbia. It is located in the Municipality of Saanich, at Cordova Bay Village, 14 kilometers from Victoria. It has a gently sloping sand and pebblestone shoreline with a scattering of driftwood and overlooks Haro Strait.
The bay is a long crescent which used to be lined with small beach cottages where city dwellers spent their summer days in the early part of the 1900’s. City folk would come by stagecoach and then later by the train that traversed what is now the Regional Lochside Trail, a 33.5 kilometer point-to point-trail between Victoria BC and Sidney BC. Even world renown artist Emily Carr came to the beach to sketch. One of her works “Cordova Drift” painted in 1931, was recently auctioned for over three-million.
After the Second World War, people started to settle permanently in Cordova Bay and in the 1940’s the McMorran family built a restaurant and dance pavilion which remained popular for generations for celebrations of all sorts. Today for the most part the small beach cottages, then post-war housing, have been transformed into upscale multi-million dollar homes. However, you can still find a few of the original cottages, charmingly hiding in the shadow of their more glamourous neighbors.
The old abandoned convenience store also remains, with its long-forgotten payphone just outside, a reminder of bygone years. McMorran's, now under new ownership, is called the Beach House Restaurant today and features a trendy west coast menu. On the upper level it offers a coffee shop selling freshly made baked goods and coffee, perfect after that morning walk along the seashore. While the dance floor may be long gone the Beach House Restaurant still remains a popular spot for celebrations such as weddings on the beach.
There are several public access points to the beach along Cordova Bay Road, such as Cordova Bay Park and McMorran Park and then off of Agate (Agate Beach), Fenn (Fenn Beach), Parker (Parker Beach), and Walema Avenues (Walema Beach). While there is some parking along Cordova Bay Road there is also parking at these access parks and beaches.
At Cordova Bay Park there is a small playground for children, picnic tables and the washrooms are located just down the slopping trail to the beach. Cordova Bay is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, sandcastles, kayaking, and paddle-boarding. When driving north along Cordova Bay Road, there is a convenient boat ramp located just a few metres before Gloria Road (Gloria Beach Access) for small craft that can be easily carried.
Cordova Bay beach is also an excellent place for bird watching and enjoying nature. A 6.3 kilometer out and back beach walk will take you from Cordova Bay Park heading south to your right towards PKOLS (Mount Douglas), a prominent, 225 meter hill. It is best to avoid this route during very high tides as the beach almost disappears. If you time the tides right, you can also wade out to a magnificent sandbar. The secret to the sandbar is to look for a low tide reading of 0.3 meters or less. If you have more time and want to walk a round trip 12 kilometer loop, pack your running shoes and towel in your knapsack, wade over to the sandbar and follow it until you reach Mt. Douglas Park Beach.
Along the way there are three small channels that divide the sandbar where the tide breaks through. If the tide is 0.3 meters or less crossing these channels will mean a short wade through approximately 60 to 75 centimeters of water, therefore you will need to dress accordingly and warmer months are best for this trek. At the southern end of the sandbar you will have arrived at Mt. Douglas Beach, put on your running shoes and hike to the top of PKOLS for a 360 degree view of the surrounding area, the straits, Blenkinsop Valley, and in the distance, downtown Victoria. Return by way of the Lochside Regional Trail and have a well deserved meal or snack at the Beach House Restaurant, or continue on for one more kilometer and enjoy ice cream, shopping or even a round of golf at Mattick’s Farm!