I have been planning to come back to South America from the second I left back in 2016. Life happened, and turned out this summer was finally my time. After chatting with a few friends, I decided to go for Peru for a total off 23 days. The trip is different this time, because I am travelling both with my mom and a friend, who are both first-timers at backpacking and South America. I built the trip around my friend schedule, who was with us only for the first 10 days. This meant that we had to include Machu Picchu and make our way from Lima to Cusco within that time frame. Read More
Distance from Victoria : 4-4h30 drive
Elevation gain : about 700m to Foster Lake
24km round-trip to Foster Lake, about 12hrs total
This summer I was finally able to get my first overnight hike on Vancouver Island since the West Coast Trail back in 2013. I had planned to hike to Landslide Lake last year at the end of August, however, we had to cancel after reaching Campbell River due to the heavy smoke from the BC wild fires. This time, we made it with gorgeous weather and great trail conditions.
The trailhead is easy to find from the main road in Strathcona, not long after driving in front of the Buttle Lake Campground. There is also an outhouse near the parking to make sure you are all ready for the hike! I did quite a bit of research before arriving to the trail, as I found a bit of confusing information about the distances and times. I’ve read some people saying they did the trail to Landslide lake in a one-day round-trip in about 4-5 hours, which I think gave me a false impression of the actual time to expect on the trail. I am quite an experienced hiker, however I have never been a fast hiker whenever there is some elevation gain. I can usually trust the average reported times from hiking textbooks or popular hiking webpages as my hiking time including my breaks and lunch. In this case, the trailhead information stated that the trail was about 6-7hours round-trip to Landslide Lake, and that is what I would plan with a light pack. There also seemed to be a disconnect between reported distances between trip reports and hiking books (GPS trip reports showing about 2km extra than stated in books) – however, as I do not track my own trails, I will report here the information I had from trail map and books. Read More
In my previous post, I talked about some places that I love taking my SUP out around Victoria. I was looking for an overnight trip to go paddling somewhere, and I had heard about Sidney Spit Island from a friend who did a kayaking trip there years ago. It takes about 2h to paddle from Sidney (BC) to the island in a kayak, and I thought it could be an adventure to do in the future. At this point though, we didn’t feel comfortable paddling in open water just the 2 of us on such a distance, so we decided to do a mix of ferry/camping/bringing our SUP with us.
Moving to Victoria last summer was a huge change. I was a bit concerned about the idea of being “stuck” on an island, after spending so many years in the booming city of Vancouver, where you can be anywhere in a pretty short drive. I’ve been here for a year now, and I can only say that I keep getting surprised by the places I discover in the area. And everything is so accessible…
Last year I finally also bought my own SUP, after shopping for a few years and renting here and then with different clubs (I was a member of the Locarno Club and UBC Sailing Club at Jericho Beach for a few years). As I live in a small space, I went for an inflatable which would make transportation and storage much easier. I know there are still plenty of places around Vancouver Island where I didn’t have a chance to paddle just yet, but this is a shortlist of my favourite spots so far, all accessible for a day trip or even shorter from the city.
When we want to go for a short paddle or when our time is limited, we simply head down to one of the local beaches in Victoria. Gyro Park has been nice, but to watch the seals and go for some quick island hopping, I usually head to Willows Beach. There is plenty of street parking nearby if the parking lot is full, and you can follow along the beach to Oak Bay Marina, as well as paddling out to some smaller islands.
I joined a day excursion to Lanikai and Kailua Beach from my hostel. Our driver dropped us off in the morning at Kailua explaining how we could walk to the trailhead to hike Pillbox, a short trail promising rewarding views of the area.
The trail is about 1.6km round-trip if you stop at the top (second pillbox), but there was an undeveloped trail that kept going further if you are up for it. It takes more or less 30min to reach the top, but give yourself plenty of time to soak up the views up there! The elevation gain up to the top is about 198m, with basically no shade (seems to be a thing in Oahu), loose rocks and some crowds. I definitely suggest doing this trail early in the day so you beat the crowd and the heat.
These were probably the best vistas I’ve seen in Oahu (although I know I could have done bigger hikes and treks, I didn’t feel up for it that week!). From the top, you can see the mountain range around, as well as the beach (which was our next stop!) and the beautiful ocean surrounding the island. The colours are outstanding.
When we came back down, we stopped at Lanikai Beach to rest and enjoy the sun. I had borrowed two floating tubes from our hostel that morning, so I swam around and relaxed in the water. After a few hours, we walked back towards Kailau beach where we spent the rest of the afternoon. Two of us decided to brave the elements and swim (armed with our floaties) all the way to Popoia Island State Bird Sanctuary – which is basically the flat island you can see right in front of Kailau. It took us about 20min to swim each way, taking our time and enjoying the trip. Most people reach it by kayak, but we didn’t have any trouble (we were both strong swimmers, too). I would recommend bringing some sort of footwear, though, as our walk around the flat island wasn’t very enjoyable (some hot old sharp volcano rock didn’t feel nice on the soles).
There were a few options to rent kayaks and paddle boards, which I would have done if I had a bit more money. Oahu being as expensive as it is, I had to make a few choices here!
Koko Head Crater Hike:
Elevation gain: 302m
After my diving course, the first day trip I took was a hike at Koko Head and an afternoon snorkelling and relaxing at Hanauma Bay. There are a lot of pillboxes and bunkers on Oahu, that were built around World War II as viewpoints on the island. Koko Head Crater trail is an old rail track that goes straight up to the ridge of the crater and used to bring supplies and material at the top. Now, it is used as a hiking trail and some people use it as a training trail, going up and down multiple times (reminds of the Grouse Grind in Vancouver, BC!).