Nestled on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, French Beach Provincial Park is conveniently located 22 km from the heart of Sooke and is a favourite spot for locals and visitors alike. If you love the great outdoors, this 59 hectare (146 acre) camping provincial park offers up breathtaking scenic views and natural beauty that is second to none.
French Beach History
James French was an early naturalist whose travels took him all over the world. An adventurous soul, he spent two years traversing Canada from New Brunswick to Victoria—and in the process, even losing all the toes off of one foot and the heel off the other because of frostbite!
Arriving in Sooke in 1885, French had hoped for a larger section of the west coast of Vancouver Island to become a provincial park. Though he died in 1952, his beloved home and favourite beach became French Beach Provincial Park in 1974, and twenty years after that, Juan de Fuca Provincial Park became a reality.
French Beach Provincial Park has some of the best camping around, complete with full amenity park facilities. There are 69 vehicle accessible sites available all year long, plus a large group site, ideal for you to share with all your friends and family. And since the government cancelled parking fees in all provincial parks, it won’t cost you a dime to park at French Beach.
For those of you who just want to spend a glorious day in the park, pack some food and the kids and head on out to the day-use area. It has everything you could ask for and more, including an adventure playground, loads of picnic tables, and fire pits for a delicious BBQ under the stars.
For all you outdoor enthusiasts out there, the park is jam-packed with a variety of activities to keep you busy, including hiking, beachcombing, fishing, wildlife watching, swimming, windsurfing, picnicking, and, of course, camping. French Beach also boasts a gorgeous 1600 metre sand-and-pebble beach, perfect for dreamy walks along shoreline while you soak in spectacular views of the majestic Olympic Mountains.
Your journey to the beach is equally as lovely as the destination. Beautifully maintained hiking trails will lead you though a forest of Douglas fir, western hemlock, cedar, and Sitka spruce trees. The forest floor is teaming with salal, evergreen huckleberries, Oregon grape, ferns, and flowers as far as the eye can see.
When you arrive at the beach, a feast for the eyes awaits. This is the place to be for some prime-time wildlife viewing. French Beach is an animal-watchers paradise, providing exhilarating and rare opportunities to see wildlife in their natural habitat. So, bring your binoculars, cameras, and curiosity, and get ready to gaze upon a host of West Coast wildlife the way it was meant to be seen.
If you enjoy bird watching—or “birding” as some folks call it—you are in for a huge treat. The spectacular beach is home to some of the most magnificent winged creatures you’ll find anywhere, including seabirds, bald eagles, and ospreys. Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher, nature photographer, or casual sky gazer, French Beach provides unsurpassed birdwatching for everyone.
French Beach is also a great place to witness one of the West Coast’s most majestic animals—the whales. From May to October, soak in the sights of grey whale as they feed along the coastline of Vancouver Island on their journey to Alaska. Or marvel at the iconic black and white Vancouver orcas.
Killer whales travel in pods and can be spotted anytime of the year. While you’re scanning the ocean for whales, don’t forget to keep your eyes open for harbour seals, California sea lions, and sea otters.