Updated: Apr 27, 2020
Well, maybe not, but the Breakwater at Ogden Point has to be near the top of the list and it is FREE!
As a member of the Victoria Guest Services Network, I have been promoting tourism on Vancouver Island since 1995. I have seen most of Vancouver Island and I still feel that our Breakwater is a great experience that too many people miss! Please don’t be one of those! Try to pick a bright sunny day to enhance your experience!
I prepared a short video to entice you into a visit. If you come here by Cruise Ship you get off your ship right next to the Breakwater! So what is your excuse?
So where exactly is the Breakwater?
The Ogden Point Breakwater is an easy 850 meter (one-half mile) walk starting on Dallas Road near the Breakwater Cafe & Bistro (199 Dallas Road V8V 1A1) and next to the Pacific Pilotage Authority Dispatch Office (211 Dallas Road V8V 1A1). In April of 2013 installation was completed on new aluminum and stainless-steel railings on each side of the walkway which dramatically increased use and safety!
There are also three sets of stairs down to the lower granite blocks where you can get up close and personal with the marine life. Walking on the lower granite blocks requires your attention. The blocks can be wet and slippery and there are lots of small breaks between them to watch for.
There are many reasons to visit the Breakwater!
1. You have a great opportunity to see some amazing sea life. It is wild, so it does not show up on demand. On occasions, Orcas (Killer Whales) have entered our Inner Harbour! Watch for whales, octopus, abalone, anemones, seals, sea lions, otters, sea birds and more). We cannot predict what you will see!
2. The Marine traffic is amazing, consisting of all types of boats and yachts, Pilot boats taking Canadian Marine Pilots out to guide ships through are waters, fishing boats, air planes and helicopters, whale watching and Eco tour excursions, and some of the over 250 Cruise Ships that visit Victoria during the Spring and summer! Victoria’s Inner Harbour Marine Airport is the 10th busiest airport in Canada!!
As you walk out on the breakwater, you will notice some First Nation’s Art. It is called Na’ Tsa’ maht – The Unity Wall. It is a symbolic canvas on which a public art piece extends to the sea and creates a bridge between cultures and represents the history of the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations.
The Breakwater protects the inner harbour and particularly the Port of Victoria where the Cruise Ships tie up. Watching the tremendous amount of traffic in and out of the harbour makes the trip worthwhile!
Just behind the Café near the entrance to Ogden Park is the Rotary Park and towards the sea from there you will find an interpretive kiosk that will give you some interesting information.
When you are done stop in the Ogden Point Cafe and Bistro for coffee/tea and enjoy a snack, or have lunch or dinner. There are great views of Juan de Fuca Strait and the Breakwater from the Cafe. Below left/top is the walkway to the Ogden Point Cafe/Bistro, then top right is the information kiosk. Below left is a view of the breakwater and Juan de Fuca Strait from the cafe/bistro and below right is the sun dial. Below that are pictures of the Cruise Ships.
Ron’s Guided Tour
There are two ways to enjoy the Breakwater. One is to walk out on the surface regularly looking down into the water to watch for marine life. Take your time to enjoy what you see. Then go back on the lower levels to get a close look in the cracks and crevices! Watch your steps. Make sure you have something to take pictures with!
The second way is by doing it under water. In 1970 the Breakwater was made a marine preserve and ever since the life there has proliferated! There are lots of fish in the kelp beds growing on the Breakwater and lots of life to see underwater. Unfortunately you need to be a certified diver and equipment to make that happen!
After each Collage of pictures I will explain what you are seeing! Enjoy!
The Breakwater protects the inner harbour and particularly the Port of Victoria where the Cruise Ships tie up. Watching the tremendous amount of traffic in and out of the harbour makes the trip worthwhile, just on its own and there is a lot more. Before you start, go west of the Ogden Point Cafe & Bistro and find the Rotary Park and towards the sea from there you will find an interpretive kiosk that will give you some interesting information. When you are done stop in the Ogden Point Cafe and Bistro for coffee/tea and enjoy a snack, or have lunch or dinner. There are great views of Juan de Fuca Strait and the Breakwater from the Cafe.
Above top-left is the walkway to the Ogden Point Cafe/Bistro, then top right is the information kiosk. Bottom left (girl fishing on granite blocks. Below center Rotary Park.
Bottom right is a view of the indigenous art along the breakwater.
If you drive down Dallas Road toward the Ogden Point Breakwater on a Saturday night during the summer you will likely see a city of lights just off shore created by 3 or 4 Cruise Ships parked at Port Victoria, in during the weekend. It is an amazing sight!
Smaller craft like the tiny harbour ferries, passenger boats, yachts, pilot boats, sailboats, the Coho Ferry (above centre), the Clipper Ferries, kayaks, airplanes, helicopters and more are in constant motion around the harbour and breakwater. Even the “Mouse” visits our City (see above).
If you happen to be a SCUBA diver, the Breakwater is one of the best shore dives you will find around Victoria! It is a marine preserve and as a result the sealife has flourished! It is a very popular dive location so you are likely to see divers at play.
Top left is a burrowing sea cucumber which I have also seen out of the water at low tide on the Breakwater. The second is a white plumose anemone which is common at the breakwater. Many are about three feet tall and are often found in clumps. At top right is a ling cod. Many of the people fishing at the breakwater would love to land a big ling cod as they are delicious to eat. The bottom picture is a male wolf eel eating an urchin. It does not seem to flinch chewing on the sharp spines of the urchin which would penetrate its flesh. You need to go scuba diving to see much of this and the breakwater has lots of life.
Top left is an abalone caught out of the water at low tide. It was dancing around by twisting its body showing the foot attached to the rocks. Next is an octopus that grabbed a seagull floating on the surface. Bottom left is a purple sea star and some kelpt Most life lives below the flourishing kelp beds along the breakwater. Middle is a bunch of gooseneck barnacles and behind them is a red anemone closed up. Bottom right are acorn barnacles.
Top right is an Orca (Killer Whale). These whales (both the local Orcas that only eat fish and the transients that eat fish, seals and sea lions) all travel up Juan de Fuca Strait and have been seen within feet of the breakwater and even in our Inner Harbour ( I think they wanted to have High Tea at the Fairmont Empress!). The lower shot is a large sea lion doing a high five. There has been a surprise at the breakwater almost every time I have been there. Be sure to take a leisurely walk and stop and watch the water, you just never know! Top Left is the abalone and the Octopus with a sea gull in its clutches! Below is a sea lion giving a high five!
If you are staying in Victoria in James Bay or downtown in the vicinity of the Inner Harbour, you can easily walk to the Breakwater. You can walk up Douglas Street past Beacon Hill Park to Dallas Road and follow the waterfront walkway or you can cut through James Bay (perhaps on Government Street which passes Emily Carr’s home), or follow the waterfront past the Legislative Buildings and by Fisherman’s Wharf. Be sure you have a good map of James Bay in hand before you start.
Here are some more views around the breakwater!
Top left is a view from out on the breakwater towards shore. The two top right are of whale watching boats heading out of the harbour (one covered and the other open). Below left is a winter storm smashing into the shoreline, then two pictures of the pilot boats (one entering the port and the other approaching the breakwater). These pilot boats deliver a certified Canadian pilot out to each ship coming up Juan de Fuca Strait. The pilots are responsible for directing each ship into Vancouver Harbour from Victoria as they pass through Canadian waters.
Top left shows the beautiful snow-capped Olympic Mountains in Washington State which provide the fantastic backdrop to our city. (Thanks, Washington State!) Top right and down are a harbour seal next to the Breakwater, the some goose-neck barnacles hanging from the side of the breakwater and behind them is a red burrowing anemone that is closed up. Below that is a large purple starfish just inches under the surface of the water. To the left of that is a young lady fishing and my wife and granddaughter exploring the Breakwater.
We hope you have enjoyed the breakwater and hope you can visit it on your next trip to Victoria. It is exceptional!
Well, that concludes my Breakwater Blog! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did while making it! See you at the Breakwater! Right! What is your rating of this Victoria Free Attraction? Ron