Port Renfrew and its harbor are located at the end of Highway 14 on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, it is known as the jewel of the West Coast, and I must admit, it sure is pretty. Port Renfrew is situated on the Port San Juan inlet, back in 1895, the postal address was the Port San Juan post, the problem with this is that mail quite often was sent to the San Juan Islands Post Office instead. So the settlers renamed their post office Port Renfrew in 1895. Today’s population is 190.
Port Renfrew has it all, protected harbors, incredible wildlife viewing, big beaches, raging rivers, peaceful lakes, camping, west coast hiking, wild wilderness, winter surfing, and some of the biggest trees in the world. All wrapped up in the most beautiful place on our planet.
Port Renfrew is at the trailhead for both the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail and the wild West Coast Trail, a trail built in 1907 to allow rescuers to get to areas along the coast and save sailors shipwrecked on the rugged coastline. Both routes are incredibly rough trails that at most times can be very muddy, you have to be in good condition and well equipped to make it through.
Port Renfrew has had an economy based on fishing and forestry but now it is tourism that drives the economy and this will only grow.
Take an easy stroll to Botanical Beach in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, and discover fascinating tidal pools rich in marine life, The beach is covered in tide pools filled with all kinds of sea life, almost like jewel boxes.
The giant San Juan Sitka spruce growing at the San Juan Bridge Recreation Site is Canada’s largest Sitka Spruce tree, based on mass, with a circumference of 11.6 m and a height of 62.5 ms. Although the Carmanah Giant is almost 30 m taller and the big Sitka Spruce on Brookes Peninsula is of greater circumference, the San Juan Sitka Spruce tree contains more wood than the others. A short drive north of Port Renfrew stands the red creek fir, one of the largest Douglas fir trees in Canada. It has survived all kinds of threats and weathered many storms, it is still going strong. It measures over 13 m in circumference and is over 80 m in height, but it was over 100 m in height before its top broke off.
You can see black bears in the early spring on some of the beaches, particularly around China Beach and Mystic Beach. Bears are unpredictable creatures, especially when they emerge hungry from winter their winter dens. You can also see deer, elk, cougars, wolves, otters, seals, several types of whales and sea lions. The seabirds are everywhere and songbirds sing in every tree. Look in the big trees for eagles, hawks, and owls.