This beautiful beach on the scenic Strait of Juan de Fuca near Jordan River is the ideal spot to explore. In the spring and fall, it’s a popular location to watch for migrating Gray whales. The park offers 69 year-round vehicle-accessible camping sites.
Quick Park Facts
- Features: Year-round vehicle accessible camping; large sand and pebble beach; wildlife viewing opportunities, in particular, Gray Whales
- Park Size: 55 hectares, including a 1600 meter sandy beach
- Trails: 2 km of maintained trails
- Suitability: Some facilities at this park are wheelchair accessible, including many of the pit toilets and campsite #59 is specifically designated as an accessible site.
- Hazards: This is in a somewhat remote area, so expect bears in the campground and plan accordingly
- Bike Trails: no designated biking trails
- Camping: 69 year-round vehicle-accessible sites
- Washrooms: Several pit toilets are available throughout the park, including 11 new fully accessible toilets. A Sani-dump station is also available here but closed during the winter season
- Pets: As this is a Provincial Park, dogs must remain on a leash at all times
A Bit of History
In the 19th century, pioneer James French travelled from New Brunswick to Victoria over a two-year period by foot! Once here, he then paddled around Vancouver Island by canoe. This adventurer eventually made his home on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. French had high hopes that his acquired land would someday be turned into a park, and in 1974 it did!
The park lies within the traditional territory of the T’Sou-ke First Nation, who used the area for fishing, gathering and hunting.
It now protects a second-growth forest of Douglas fir, Sitka spruce, Western hemlock and Western red cedar trees.
Camping at French Beach Provincial Park
Families love camping at French Beach Provincial Park. The area provides a beautiful wilderness-type setting within a short walk to the beach. The tall trees surrounding you provide a high level of privacy between sites. As of December 2020, all of the campsites were widened to allow easier and safer access for larger RVs and trailers.
There is a small playground located in the day-use area, much of which features climbing apparatuses.
As this is a Provincial Park, there are no amenities available at the sites, such as electrical outlets, sewar, water, etc. There is, however, cold water taps located throughout the park, and a Sani-dump near the entrance. Please note, both the taps and Sani-dump aren’t available during the off-season.
The large group site offers a shelter with a wood stove, hot water and double sink, plus one electrical outlet for small appliances. There’s a group fire pit with seating and several picnic tables. RVs park in the gravel lot, while tenting is designated to the large grassy area.
The sites can be reserved ahead of time via Discover Camping or on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations are highly recommended during the busy summer season.
A short 5 – 10 minute walk from the campsite will take you to French Beach. This beautiful sand and pebble beach is an ideal location to spot ocean wildlife. French Beach is said to be one of the most accessible beaches with the greatest scenery on Vancouver Island.
During the spring and fall, migrating Gray whales use the area in front of French Beach as a feeding ground and can often be spotted from shore. At any time of the year, roaming pods of Orca, otters, seals, and sea lions can sometimes be seen offshore. It’s also a great location for birders hoping to spot Bald eagles, osprey and other seabirds. Small land mammals, such as mink, raccoons and squirrels frequent the park. And, as mentioned above, the park is remote enough to attract black bears, which also means that cougars may present too.
You can swim in the ocean at this park, although please know the water is very cold all year round and there are no designated swimming areas. Significant wave action is also prevalent in this area.
While the beach is the main attraction, there are several other hiking opportunities in the area. The trails travel alongside the beach and through the beautiful mature second-growth forest. Most of the trails are relatively short, flat, wide and accessible to all levels of hikers. The hike to the beach is fairly steep as you approach the water and includes a set of stairs.
There is a viewing area located at the bottom of the paved path coming from the parking lot. The path has some steep slopes and it ends abruptly with only a narrow, rocky path continuing to the beach. The view, however, is stunning!
Nearby is Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, which offers many amazing hiking opportunities.
French Beach Provincial Park is located 20 km west of Sooke or 11 km from Jordan River on Hwy 14. It’s well signed in both directions.
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*The following Pinterest image along with the feature image for this article is by Dave Mantel via Getty Images.