Esquimalt Lagoon

Between Hatley Park and the Strait of Juan de Fuca is one of Victoria’s hidden treasures, the Esquimalt Lagoon. Ocean Road, which runs along the Cobourg Peninsula in Colwood, separates the two halves of the area commonly referred to as the Esquimalt Lagoon: the actual lagoon itself, and the beach that opens onto the Strait.

Highlights of Esquimalt Lagoon

  • Migratory Bird Sanctuary
  • Free
  • Quiet location
  • Spectacular views
  • Nearby beach area

For avid birders and beach-goers, the Esquimalt Lagoon represents a little slice of heaven. On any given day, even on sunny summer holidays, you’ll find that the area is not too crowded. For those interested in the lagoon itself, you’ll be treated to a beautiful view of Hatley Castle, since the lagoon sits at the bottom of historic Hatley Park. This natural tidal pond is a stopover site located along the Pacific Flyway, a sort of highway for migratory birds that links North and South America. As such, you’ll see an abundance of different species of birds, both native to the area and non-native. Some of the birds you may find here include: Caspian terns, Black-Bellied Plovers, Northwestern Crows, Black Oystercatchers, Red-Breasted Mergansers, Mallards, Great Blue Herons, Bald Eagles, Belted Kingfishers and many more. The Esquimalt Lagoon had been designated as a federal Migratory Bird Sanctuary, allowing the many birds who visit here a safe haven.

The Beach at Esquimalt Lagoon

On the other side of Ocean Road is a stretch of beachfront that opens onto the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Whether you are visiting with friends, family, by yourself or with your dog, spending some time lounging on the beach or paddling in the water is a great way to while away a few hours. There is plenty of parking, almost along the entire Cobourg Peninsula, so that your vehicle is only ever a few steps away. This makes the beach ideal for family picnics or barbecues, since you won’t have to carry your supplies very far. The beach itself is sandy, with a nice gradual slope that is great for families with toddlers, who just want to paddle around in the shallows. Closer to the parking area, you’ll find large driftwood logs that are great for sitting on or leaning against, if settling down on the warm sand isn’t your idea of comfort.

From the vantage point of the beach, you’ll be able to see not only Hatley Castle just beyond the Lagoon, but also Fisgard Lighthouse, the spotlight emplacements at Fort Rodd Hill, and the dockyard at CFB Naden. You can see the whale-watching boats, fishing and sailing boats (including some tall ships) and cargo ships make their way through the Strait now and again. The beach side of the Esquimalt Lagoon is also popular with divers, who sometimes go there to simply spend time exploring under the waves or catch themselves some crabs. With the exception of a few events that go on at the Lagoon throughout the year, the area is usually pretty quiet, allowing you to enjoy a peaceful visit surrounded by the pleasant sounds of bird calls and waves rushing up onto the shore.