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Lagoon-a-beach

posted on Feb 22

No... not the Laguna Beach you?re thinking of, merely my feeble attempt at a play on words! The Lagoon-a-beach I?m playfully referring to is the beach at Esquimalt Lagoon, just west of Victoria.

The Esquimalt Lagoon area has it all! The sandy beach offers several views; one of them being the nearby naval ship yards and, at the south west end of the beach, there is a stunning view across the water to downtown Victoria. Both vantage points offer a spectacular view across Juan de Fuca Strait to the Olympic Peninsula.

Turn around and, perched on the side of the forested slope leading down to the lagoon, you?ll see Hatley Castle, the home of Royal Roads University and star of the X-Men movies. At the bottom of the slope is the lagoon itself, a bird sanctuary separated from the ocean by a strip of land and the sandy beach, to which I refer to in this article.

On sunny summer days the beach at Esquimalt lagoon is packed with sun worshippers who love nothing better than lazing in the sun all day and then, as the sun sets over the Olympic Mountains to the south and west, enjoying a tailgate barbecue, while watching the spectacular sunset.

Bird lovers will marvel at the myriad of species that habituate the lagoon, either as permanent residents or as transient visitors during the summer months. A flock of resident white swans are a daily sight, set off against the grandeur of Hatley Castle and its spectacular gardens (which is another story to be told in a future article) they paint a portrait reminiscent of a stately English mansion and its grounds.

To reach the Esquimalt Lagoon from downtown Victoria follow Highway 1 and take the turnoff to Sooke, approximately 4-5 kilometers from the outskirts of Victoria. Proceed approximately 1.5 kilometers to the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre (on the left) where you make a left turn at the traffic lights. Follow the road around to the right then look for the directional sign indicating Ocean Boulevard and Fort Rodd Hill (it?s at the second left turn) make a hard turn left and follow the road, past Fort Rodd Hill, down the hill to the lagoon.

The Esquimalt Lagoon is a visit that?s worthwhile and most enjoyable and is only about a 15-20 minute drive from downtown Victoria (if you avoid the rush hour, which starts at about 3:30-4:00 pm and continues until about 6:00 pm.

PS In case you?re curious about the name Esquimalt, it?s an aboriginal name meaning "Place of shoaling waters".