It’s no accident that Vancouver Island is on the list of one of the best islands in the world (according to Conde Nast Traveler). With its mild year-round climate and the aquatic wonderland of activities, Victoria brings the beauty of nature to an elevated state of euphoria.
As a Pisces, being by water soothes me. It calms every nerve and allows my mind to flow, to breathe, to refocus. It’s what allows me to stop my busy day and appreciate life in its purest form; no filter needed.
Throw in some colourful gardens, culinary experiences, wine tours, kayaking, whale watching and top it off with a stunning resort right on the ocean and viola; welcome to Victoria!
Cyndi Lauper sang, girls just wanna have fun and I’m pretty sure she was talking about a girl’s getaway weekend at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel! A chance to let your hair down, reconnect with friends, and likely end your stay with the famous line, “remember when…”.
The Oak Bay Beach Hotel was built in 1927 with only forty suites. It was rebuilt in 2006 salvaging ninety percent of its original structure (including original bricks from the fireplace and stained-glass window) and reopened in 2012 with 100 rooms. Take a walk through Kate’s Cafe as it features the original entrance to the hotel.
As you pull up to the driveway of this magnificent 5-star luxury resort with waterfront suites and seaside mineral baths, you and your girls will be greeted by the most incredible staff, tending to your every need. Once you get to your room, be prepared to have an awe-jaw-dropping moment. The suites are marvellous, featuring a spacious living room with dining table, king size bed and every girl’s personal favourite, a soaking bathtub with milk bath products. Throw in a glass of Prosecco and I may never see my friends again!
If you find yourself in a room on the lower level, your patio walks right out onto a luscious garden, which continues down a pathway that looks out onto the Pacific Ocean, mineral baths and pools. You may want to come back with your partner as the baths are open until 10 pm. But for the time being, enjoy the soak and a glass of champagne under the stars with the people who know you best. Or pull up a chair and enjoy happy hour from The Snug Pub. It’s so happy, it happens twice a day!
One thing I must suggest is a relaxation massage at Boathouse Spa & Baths. Something happens when you just lay down and let go. It’s like a cleanse for your mind, body and soul. Trust me on this one. Once you’re done and can barely remember your own name, grab a glass of prosecco and head over to the mineral baths to catch up with the girls.
Now that your brain is on autopilot and your legs are like Jell-O, you won’t have far to go as you head to The Dining Room for a delectable dinner; might I suggest the spaghetti seafood pasta?
If you and the gals are looking to get off the property, take a short walk from the hotel past the harbour and go through the Oak Bay Neighborhood. Here you’ll find quaint shops, bars and restaurants worth investigating before stopping by Vis a Vis Wine & Charcuterie Bar and ordering yourself steak frites and a wine flight to pair.
Just steps from Victoria’s Inner Harbor is 10 Acres Bistro & Bar. Here you’ll find uniquely matched wine pairings to go with the most mouthwatering cuisine including seafood, duck and the finest seasonal produce. Throw in exquisite service from the staff and your night is sure to be one for the books.
Some activities I would recommend that will not only please the masses but will leave a lasting impression on your stay in Victoria are:
Ocean River Sports: I’d never been kayaking before so of course, the first questions I ask are; how do I eject myself should I capsize; how strong the currents are and what do I do in the event of hitting a wave?
Luckily, our tour guides Brian and Ben were amazing. You’ll enjoy the company you’re in as they’ll explain all the natural beauty that surrounds you, why it’s good to eat algae and how they got started in the business in the first place.
For a more in-depth experience, try snorkelling with seals with PJ’s Island and Subsea Retreat. You’ll not only observe these harbour seals in their natural habitat, but you’ll discover other marine life in the Gulf waters.
Your Eagle Wing Whale Watching Tours adventure begins from Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf heading out to sea (see what I did there) three resident pods of Orca Killer Whales as well as the harbour seals that live on the economic reserve, Race Rocks. Fun Fact: The Race Rocks light is one of the first two lighthouses built on the west coast of Canada.
With over 100 years in bloom, you and the ladies must visit Butchart Gardens. With 55 acres of spectacular gardens, water features and special attractions, be prepared to spend the day here surrounded by luscious greens, tranquil settings and of course, good friends. When you’ve had your fill of scenic rounds, be sure to stop in and dine in the original Butchart family residence, The Dining Room. Overlooking the private garden or Italian Garden, you’ll enjoy the constant reinvention of their menu featuring seasonal and local ingredients.
Cheers, my girls!
As this girl’s trip comes to an end, it reminds me that we need to do things like this more often. The complications of life and the infamous I’m too busy this week get the best of us. Sometimes, all we need is a reminder that when we are surrounded by great beauty, delicious food, and adventures that we share with those who matter most, these are the most beautiful things this world has to offer.