On the southwest side of the island you can discover Sooke, British Columbia (Canada), a small community with lots of love invested in the town. Sooke doesn't have a defined main street, you will find a bunch of stores, cafes, yoga center, etc spread about. There is plenty of stuff to do and is close to breathtakingly beautiful hikes such as Juan de Fuca Trail or West Coast Trail. If you want to do any of these hikes we recommend you to stop at Sooke and buy what you need, you will not find too much at Port Renfrew.
The Galloping Goose Regional Trail is a 60 km rail trail that goes from Victoria until the ghost town of Leechtown. This maintained trail is popular for biking, walking, running, skate in some parts and riding horses. It's wide, flat and very easy, suitable for everybody. It connects to many other trails and parks including urban areas of Victoria. With toilets along the way, water taps, shelters, camping and diferent trail head parkings spots.
The trail was converted in 1987 and named after the noisy gas rail car which carried passengers between Victoria and Sooke in the 1920s.
You can choose your favourite section or you can do the totally recommended whole trail. We decided to ride from the parking at the km 40 (first right after Stickleback restaurant from Victoria) to about the km 60 and back km 40 then to km 30. The first is more scenic because of the tunnels of forest you past though until you see the camping and the other because you ride along the ocean. Also great to do on hot days.
More info: http://www.gallopinggoosetrail.com/
We found a lovely 30 minute walk along the beach called Whiffin Spit, it's a naturally formed spit that has been refurbished to include a well-maintained path. On one side of the Spit you have the beautiful protected Sooke Basin and the other side opens up to the Juan de Fuca Strait. Wooden benches situated along the path invites you to sit and relax watching the natural beauty of the southwest cost.
SookeYoga is a small inspirational center with a variety of classes everyday. Drop in $15.
More info: http://www.ahimsasooke.com/
We found a big selections of cool cafés as Mom's café, with 80´s style decor which is the perfect place to get sick on a delicious huge breackfast/lunch for a fair price. Sooke reading café, is a book store connected to a café, with a few sandwiches and bakery variation, good tea and coffee and spacious tables to work in with free wifi. The Stick in the mud, another cool-modern style café with also a selection of bakery, sandwich, coffee and really good tea. The last one we visited is the Stickleback restaurant, that its about 10 mins from town beside the Galloping goose trail, here we took a fresh beer and very yummy ¨Chipotle mango chips¨ with ocean views and good price.
There is a great big new laundrymat with a cafe inside where you can wait comfortably while you run your washing. Great prices, coffee selection, clean, couches, fast wifi and washrooms. We spent a few hours here working without problem. Happiest laundry experience so far!!!
More info: http://www.sookelaundry.ca/cafeacute.html
At the SeaParc Leisure complex at the town entrance you can have a nice shower for $2.90/person.
More info: https://www.crd.bc.ca/seaparc/
WHERE TO SLEEP?
We slept in the Galloping Goose trail parking for free :) First night at the one which is on the km 40 mark next to the Stickleback Restaurant, its a small hidden parking in the forest. The second night at km 44 on Sooke river rd, big parking and is also a bit hiddeb. Both without “no overnight parking” signs :) and very tranquil.
CLOSE TO SOOKE
We caught up with friends at Iron Mine Bay Beach, east Sooke. Its a short easy trek that brings you to a tiny, lovely, rock beach. There is plenty of hiking around as well as kayaking/canoeing opportunities to explore the area. We had a very pleasant time there.