On This Page
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 reservations must be made through the BC Parks reservations system. Campsite reservations are required during the spring and summer months. Outside of the reservable window, the campsites in the French Beach campground operate as first come, first serve.
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 Indigenous 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
Bicycles must keep to roadways. Bicycle helmets are mandatory in British Columbia.
There are saltwater/ocean fishing opportunities at this park. Fishing is permitted as per provincial and federal fishing regulations. All anglers should check the current regulations issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada prior to fishing. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence.
Approximately 2 kilometres of maintained hiking trails travel through the park. Trails lead through salt marsh and second-growth forest of Douglas fir, Sitka spruce, Western hemlock and Western red cedar, connecting with shoreline walks along the beautiful beach. This trail system is accessible from the day use area and the campground. For your own safety and the preservation of the park, obey posted signs and keep to designated trails. Shortcutting trails destroys plant life and soil structure.
There are interpretations services available at this park. For more information, please contact the park operator.
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.
There is no designated swimming area at this park, however French Beach is located on the Pacific Ocean and there are opportunities for swimming. The water is very cold. Bring good footwear if you want to walk along the sand and gravel beach. There are no lifeguards on duty at provincial parks.
In addition to offering fabulous views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains, French Beach is an excellent location for whale watching. The magnificent Gray whales pass by the park as they migrate to northern feeding grounds in the spring and return in the fall. Roaming pods of resident killer whales are often seen offshore, as well as otters, seals and sea lions. French Beach is also a good location to see Bald eagles, ospreys and a variety of seabirds.
There are opportunities for windsurfing at French Beach.
French Beach Provincial park is open year-round with limited services.
Facilities Available at this Park
Some facilities and hiking trails in the park are wheelchair-accessible.
While fires are allowed, we encourage visitors to conserve the environment by minimizing the use of fire and using stoves instead. Campfire rings are provided at each campsite, as well as communal rings in the day-use area. Fires are not permitted on the beach. Firewood can be purchased from the park operator. Fees for firewood are set locally and may vary. To preserve vegetation and ground cover, please don’t gather firewood from the area around your campsite or elsewhere in the park (this is a ticketable offence under the Park Act). Dead wood is an important habitat element for many plants and animals and it adds organic matter to the soil. You can conserve firewood and air quality by keeping your campfire small. Limited burning hours or campfire bans may be implemented. Be prepared to bring a portable stove for cooking.
Cold water taps are located throughout the park. Taps are shut off during the off-season.
There is one group campsite at French Beach with a maximum group size of 50. The group site is open during the main camping season. French Beach group site has the following amenities:
- Hot water and double sink 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!
This park has a large, grassy day-use/picnic area with picnic tables, fire rings, fresh water taps and pit toilets. The day-use area is located next to the sand and gravel beach.
Pit or Flush Toilets
Pit toilets are located throughout French Beach Park. There are no flush toilets.
Sani-station/dump is available at this park, subject to freezing conditions. Facilities are located alongside Hwy 14, west of the park entrance.
Please note: the sani-dump is closed during the winter season, due to freezing temperatures.
Vehicle Accessible Camping
This park has vehicle-accessible campsites, located in the forest approximately a 5-10 minute walk from the beach. Campsite reservations are accepted and first-come, first-served sites may also be available.
The winter fee is in effect during the winter/off-season, with no water, no firewood, and no sani-station available.