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French Beach Provincial Park
About This Park
Situated on the scenic Strait of Juan de Fuca on the west coast of southern Vancouver Island, French Beach Provincial Park offers much more than just beautiful hiking trails through lush forests. A wide swatch of green lawn fronts this sand and pebble beach, where visitors can relax and enjoy a picnic or take a cool dip in the ocean.
In addition to offering fabulous views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains, the 1,600-metre beach at this park is an ideal location for exploring and whale watching. The magnificent Gray whales pass by this park in the spring as they migrate to northern feeding grounds, and return again in the fall. Roaming pods of resident killer whales can also be seen offshore, as well as otters, seals and sea lions. French Beach is also a good spot to observe Bald eagles, ospreys and a variety of seabirds.
French Beach offers year-round vehicle accessible camping in a beautiful natural setting within minutes walk to the ocean. Facilities include a picnic/day-use area, a sani-station, pit toilets and fresh water. More camping and hiking opportunities are located nearby at Juan de Fuca Provincial Park.
Know Before You Go
- Canoeing and kayaking at French Beach is not recommended due to the strong ocean currents.
- There is no boat launch at this park. The nearest launches are located near Jordan River or Sooke.
- Tide Tables are posted at trailheads and available at local bookstores. Remember to add one hour to the listed tidal times during May to October, as Daylight Savings Time is in effect. For this area, visitors should reference the Fisheries and Oceans tide table for Sooke.
- There is no sani-station available in the winter season.
All campsite and group site reservations must be made through the BC Parks reservations system. When reservations are not available all campsites function as first-come, first-served.
Group Campsite Reservations
French Beach Provincial Park is located on the west coast of southern Vancouver Island. The park can be accessed via Hwy 14, 20 km west of Sooke. Directional signs are posted. The park is located approximately 11 km from Jordan River.
The nearest communities/towns/cities are Sooke, Jordan River, Port Renfrew, and Victoria.
Nature and Culture
- History: Imagine loving to travel so much, you would walk across Canada! Imagine falling though the ice in the Northwest Territories, losing all the toes off one foot and the heel off the other to frostbite, thanking aboriginal knowledge that you did not lose more! Imagine not stopping there, traveling by boat and canoe down the Bulkley Valley to Vancouver and then paddling around Vancouver Island to find your future home. It took pioneer James French two adventurous years to travel from New Brunswick to Victoria. He pre-empted the land west of Sooke in 1885. French was an early naturalist, traveling the world to bring exotic animals to zoos for public enjoyment and education. After an expedition to Africa, French once brought home a small elephant, before selling it to the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. French died in 1952, survived by his family who continued to live on the property and play an active part in local logging. French had hoped that a much larger section of the west coast of Vancouver Island would be made into a provincial park. His home and favourite beach would become French Beach Provincial Park in 1974 - 20 years later, Juan de Fuca Provincial Park would further his dream.
- Cultural Heritage: French Beach lies within the traditional territory of the T’Sou-ke First Nation. Their economy was based on hunting, fishing and gathering, and extended families among the Straits people owned the lands and resources, which could not be sold, only inherited.
- Conservation: Beautiful hiking trails lead you through second growth forest of Douglas fir, Sitka spruce, western hemlock and Western red cedar to the sand and pebble beach. You will also find salal, Oregon grape, evergreen huckleberries and a large variety of ferns along the trails.
- Wildlife: Once on the beach, there are excellent whale-watching opportunities, particularly for Gray whales. These magnificent creatures migrate to northern feeding grounds in the spring and return south in the fall. Killer whales, otters, seals and sea lions can also be seen offshore. French Beach is also a great place to observe seabirds, Bald eagles and ospreys. A number of other animals can be found in the park, including frogs, salamanders and small mammals such as minks, squirrels and raccoons. Black bears and cougars make their homes in the surrounding areas and may move through the park, especially during warmer months.
Activities Available at this Park
Pets on Leash
Pets/domestic animals must be on a leash at all times and are not allowed in beach areas or park buildings. You are responsible for their behaviour and must dispose of their excrement.
Backcountry areas are not suitable for dogs or other pets due to wildlife issues and the potential for problems with bears.
Facilities Available at this Park
Some facilities and hiking trails in the park are wheelchair-accessible.
- Hot water, double sink and woodstove under private shelter. Shelter also has electrical plug-in for small appliances only.
- Several tables and lots of counter space.
- Group fire pit with seating.
- Wheel chair accessible pit toilets.
- Beach access approximately 100 metres away.
- Parking in gravel parking lot for RVs.
- Large grass tenting area.
- Very private location.
Youth group camping charges per night are $1/person (6+), with a $50 minimum and $150 maximum. Read the Youth Group policy about Criteria for Youth Groups.
Regular group camping charges per night are the base rate for the site, which is $120.00/group site/night, plus $5/adult (16+, minimum charge for 15 adults), plus $1/child (6-15). Children under 6 are free!
Pit or Flush Toilets
Please note: the sani-dump is closed during the winter season, due to freezing temperatures.