Fisherman's Wharf is a quaint destination just a short stroll from downtown Victoria, BC. It features floating homes, restaurants, whale watching tours, and some of the best seafood available anywhere. Many tourists miss this hidden gem, as they are not even aware of it. The Wharf is not always mentioned in tourist publications and brochures, but it should be.
Here is a brief introduction of Victoria for those who may not be familiar with this area.. Our city is located at the Pacific Coast on Vancouver Island in Canada. You can enjoy the best sockeye salmon in the world here. We have a very moderate climate and are the envy of Canada in the winter, as we seldom get snow. You can't golf in many places in Canada in January, but you can here!
Victoria's Fisherman's Wharf is nothing like the one in San Francisco. Our city has a population of 400,000, so a wharf here cannot compare in terms of size or amenities. However, any out of town guests that I have brought here have fallen in love with it.
There is a distinctly Victorian vibe here, with floating homes, moored boats and fishing vessels, and eco friendly tours. The seafood doesn't get any fresher than this! Come along with me as I describe this treasure that Victorians are proud of. Most of the images are mine.
Take a Scenic Walk from Downtown Victoria to Fisherman's Wharf
You can get to Fisherman's Wharf from the downtown Inner Harbour by walking, or by taking one of the harbour ferries. I highly recommend walking one way at least. The ferry is a fun experience, so you may want to take it going back downtown.
There is a tourist information center downtown that has maps and lots of information about points of interest in Victoria. Also, don't be afraid to ask someone for directions, to get advice about where to eat, or anything else you might be wondering about. Victorians are very proud of their city, and almost everyone is glad to help. You might find you are asking another tourist though! We get many international visitors, as well as people from other parts of Canada.
Using the Parliament buildings as a starting point, it will take you 15 to 20 minutes to get to the wharf. This landmark building is located directly across from the Inner Harbour. You can walk along Belleville Street to Kingston and then St Lawrence Rd, where you will see the entrance sign.
However, the views along the waterfront are much more scenic. It only takes a few extra minutes and is well worth your time. This is not a strenuous walk. The waterfront pathway is a bit hilly, but not difficult to navigate.
Along the way there are many benches where you can stop for a rest, or to admire the view. Don't forget to bring your camera! You will want to take many pictures as this is a beautiful stroll.
There is paid parking available if you are travelling by car. Street parking is just outside the main entrance, but it is restricted to one hour. This limit is strictly enforced, so I recommend the paid parking lot. This photo shows some of the colorful float homes you will see as you approach the Wharf.
A Video Tour of the Wharf
Things To Do At Fisherman's Wharf
As you stroll along the floating boardwalk, you will pass by several float homes. Many people ask if the residents live in them all year. Yes, they certainly do!
No one seems to mind giving up their privacy to live there either. If that was an issue, I would think they would live elsewhere. Cats frequently roam around. These animals are not strays, but live at Wharf in one of the homes. Dogs are here as well, but always on a leash. You are welcome to bring your pet if you have one, provided it is leashed or properly restrained. Victoria is a very pet friendly place.
There is a good chance you might see some marine life too. We have lots of star fish, and the sea otters are happy to stop by if they think someone is going to feed them. Signs warn people to not get too close to them. They look adorable, but they have very sharp teeth, so you really do not want to get bitten. Eagles, and blue heron are often observed, although they never get too close to people.
You can watch the fishing vessels as they come in with their seafood. The Coho ferry, which arrives from Port Angeles Washington, sails by a few times each day. There also is a passenger only ferry that sails from Seattle. Float planes take you to and from Vancouver or Seattle. All of these can be observed from the Wharf.
The harbour ferry tour boats run from morning until dusk. These ferries go to many interesting places around Victoria's harbour. You can get on and off as many times as you please. You never have a long wait for one in the summer time. It's a fun experience that I recommend if you are visiting from out of town.
You can plan a whale watching tour from here. The tour operators guarantee you will see whales. If for some reason you don't, you can go again another day at no additional charge. Orcas Humpback and Gray whales can be seen in this area.
Kayaking is another option. This is very popular in the summer. You don't have to be experienced to enjoy this activity. There also is a pirate adventure tour which is fun for the whole family.
Of course, no mention of Fisherman's Wharf would be complete without mentioning the wonderful seafood available. You can buy it fresh to take home, or enjoy it there at one of the restaurants. I recommend Barb's Fish and Chips. This is a legendary place for local residents. In fact, you can hardly call yourself a Victorian if you have not eaten at Barb's. A one piece fish and chips dinner with cole slaw and beverage costs about $12. That is a good price for this area. I find the one piece dinner to be plentiful for me. Long line ups at Barb's are common, but service is fast and friendly. While you are waiting for your order you can have a coffee or other beverage. Refills are included.
If you don't want seafood, other options are available. There are burgers, sandwiches and salads. There is a Mexican restaurant too. The ice cream is delicious on a warm day.
You could also pack a picnic lunch and enjoy it at the Wharf, or the park which is located just outside the area. All restaurants are open until dusk. Evenings are long here in the summer. It doesn't get dark until about 10 in July.
I recommend bringing a jacket or sweater if you are going to be there in the evening. The temperature is not as warm at the waterfront as it is elsewhere, and the ocean breezes can be chilly.
While visiting the Victoria area, you won't want to miss the stunning Butchart Gardens. The gardens are world renowned and visited by thousands of people every month.