You’re probably here because you saw a photo of this powerful waterfall cascading down into a stunning, smooth canyon and thought to yourself, WOAH! How do I get there? Well, you are in luck, my friend. in this post I am going to walk you through exactly how to find the hidden waterfall at Sombrio Beach and tips for getting it all to yourself!
Sombrio Beach is a popular surf spot and one of my personal favourite destinations on all of Vancouver Island. While the beach is beautiful and the atmosphere is lively, that is not the only reason it tops my list. Something most people don’t know about the area is that there is actually a gorgeous hidden waterfall only accessible from Sombrio Beach!
Nestled inside a narrow canyon surrounded by tall cliffs on each side, this picturesque waterfall is still somewhat of a hidden gem. The best part? It is only about 1.3 kilometres from the parking lot and very easy to access, as long as you know where you’re going!
First of all, make sure to wear hiking boots or runners that you don’t mind getting wet. You are about to hike up a stream and stand at the base of an impressive waterfall. The price you’ll pay for a one of a kind experience like that? Water in your shoes.
Some other things you may want to bring are a tripod —there aren’t many places to prop up your camera or phone for photos—a warm base layer, and a rain jacket. These things will all ensure you are able to make the most of your time at the Sombrio Beach Waterfall and that you are comfortable enough to stay for a while.
From the parking area, it is about 500 meters down a well-maintained path to the beach. You will come to a fork in the road and a sign for the Juan de Fuca Trail. At this point, you want to go left, following the sign to East Sombrio Campground.
Before you know it, you will emerge out onto the beach. This is a great spot to pack a picnic lunch, set yourself up on one of the huge pieces of driftwood, and watch the surfers in the waves. Every time we have visited there have been several communal fires blazing, creating a fun and unique atmosphere between surfers, locals, and visitors.
This next bit can be a little tricky to navigate but I need you to trust me and follow along. It is incredibly worth it! If you are looking at the water, turn left and walk along the beach for approximately 10 minutes. You are aiming for the end of the beach where you can see a large rock ledge that extends out into the water.
A few hundred feet before you get there, you will see a small stream trickling onto the beach. From a distance, it can be hard to pick out because there are several large fallen logs surrounding it. Once you get up close, though, you will see a faint trail that winds to the side of/through the creek.
Now, all you have to do is walk up the stream. Yep, you heard me. Get your boots wet and make your way up the small, rocky stream. As you progress, the walls on both sides of you will begin to grow taller and taller. Before you know it, you will be standing in a smooth rock canyon looking up at the magnificent Sombrio Beach Waterfall.
This place is a DREAM! Didn’t I tell you it would be worth it? You’re welcome. In total, the hike is only about 2.5 kilometres with very little elevation gain.
As I mentioned earlier, it is still somewhat of a hidden gem, so you don’t typically need to worry about big crowds and tons of people. We visited at around 9 AM on a Sunday and had the entire place to ourselves for a whole hour!
Something to note, however, is that many people visit this waterfall on a day trip from Victoria and Port Renfrew. This means that it gets busier in the afternoon when the majority of the road-trippers have had time to make it to this stop. If you want to guarantee a quieter experience, I would recommend going in the morning on a weekday.
For your convenience, here are GPS coordinates of where you enter the stream from Sombrio Beach. I have also added a map below.