Gonzales Beach, one of the many beautiful beaches in Victoria, BC

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Gonzales Beach, Victoria: Complete Beach Guide


Gonzales beach, a favorite hangout spot for locals in Victoria, has calm waters, soft sand, and a great atmosphere…everything that you want in a beach! Nestled in a sheltered bay, Gonzales is the perfect place to swim, kayak, paddleboard, or sunbathe. If you close your eyes while laying on this sandy beach, you’ll feel like you are in a tropical paradise!

Protected from the wind and open ocean, Gonzales Beach is one of the best swimming beaches in Victoria. Swim in the refreshing ocean water while enjoying impressive views of the mountains and the Juan de Fuca Strait. Alternatively, paddle out a kayak or SUP board to explore the waters and rocky coastline around the beach.

All kinds of wildlife call Gonzales Bay home, such as herons, seals, otters, jellyfish…and more! If you are lucky, you might spot a sea lion, orcas swimming past the bay, or an elephant seal molting on the beach. If you paddle out into the bay, look for egg-like jellyfish in the water and colorful starfish among the rocks.

When the tide is high, the beach practically disappears under the ocean. Make sure you check the tide charts before you go!

If you want a phenomenal view of Gonzales Beach and Victoria, head up to the nearby Gonzales Hill. Alternatively, head to Trafalgar Park, only a few minutes away from the beach, which will give you a beautiful view of the Salish Sea and Trial Islands, with a backdrop of the stunning Olympic Mountains.

Gonzales Beach Map

Gonzales Beach is located along Crescent Road in the Fairfield neighborhood, about 10 minutes east of downtown Victoria. You can get to Crescent Road by following the scenic Dallas Road along the ocean from downtown. Here is a map showing the location:

Click on the marker on the map to get directions or alternatively, click here for directions.

How to Get to Gonzales Beach

By car, Gonzales Beach is less than 10 minutes from downtown Victoria. It is easiest to get to the beach by following Dallas Road or Foul Bay Road to get to Crescent Road. On your way, we recommend that you stop on Dallas Road to watch kites being flown at Clover Point and enjoy the view over the steep cliffs.

If you bike, there are bike racks at the top of the grassy park, near Richmond Avenue and Crescent Road. For a memorable bike ride, we highly recommend biking Dallas Road to get amazing views of the ocean. If you want to push yourself, bike up the short but steep hill on the east side of the beach to the scenic Trafalgar Park viewpoint. We guarantee that it’s worth it!

You can easily access the beach using public transit. The #3 bus route has several stops along Crescent Road. The most convenient stop is near the Foul Bay Road and Crescent Road intersection.

Three pathways lead down to the beach. The west side (near Richmond Avenue) has both a steep ramp and a set of stairs. Be careful – the ramp is often slippery with sand! The other stairways are located near Irving Road and at the end of Foul Bay Road.

Is There Free Parking at Gonzales Beach?

There is free parking at Gonzales Beach! However, the two parking lots located at either end of the beach are both limited for space. Due to their size, parking in these lots can be tricky.

The first parking lot is very small and can be found at the intersection of Foul Bay Road and Crescent Road. Only a few cars fit in this lot, so expect it to be full on busy days!

The second parking area is located by the grassy park at the intersection of Richmond Avenue and Crescent Road. It is a short road that branches off of Crescent Road, with parking along the sides. This parking lot has more space than the first lot but is still quite limited.

Street parking is also available on Crescent Road and other side streets, and this may be your best option. Make sure you follow the street signs, as parking enforcement officers sometimes patrol the area, giving out tickets!

Swimming at Gonzales Beach

Ocean at Gonzales Beach
Ocean at Gonzales Beach

Yes! Gonzales Bay is one of the best beaches to swim in Victoria. Because it is so sheltered from the wind and waves, the waters in the bay are usually calm, unless it is quite windy or stormy. Because of this, Gonzales Beach is the perfect place for younger children to play and swim. It’s also a great place to go snorkeling!

The beach is gently sloped and sandy – perfect for swimming. The water is cold though! Even a quick dip into the water will keep you refreshed on a hot summer day. You should bring a wetsuit if you get cold easily or you want to go for a long swim or snorkeling. After, you can warm up and relax in the sun.

Make sure that you check for any beach water quality advisories which will be posted if water is unsafe for swimming.

Activities at the Beach

Gonzales Beach is perfect for many different outdoor activities, including swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, skimboarding, and snorkeling!

The protected waters make this beach quite popular for paddleboarding. If you don’t own a paddleboard, you can rent one: often, a rental service will be at the beach or they will deliver the board for free to the beach! Paddling around the bay is a cheap, great way to spend the afternoon!

Skimboarders love Gonzales Beach, due to the gently-sloped, soft sand. Some people will even skimboard down the entire stretch of the beach!

Sometimes you will see people snorkeling along the edges of the bay. You’ll find a whole other world under the surface of the water in Gonzales Bay, just waiting for you to explore it! The calm waters are great for exploring kelp forests and finding brilliant sea anemones, colorful starfish, all kinds of fish, and other sea creatures. Victoria has some of the best diving spots in the world, but you’ll need a thick wetsuit to stay warm!

Are There Bathrooms at Gonzales Beach?

Yes, there is a bathroom and changeroom located at the grassy park, on the west side of the beach near Richmond Avenue. Both the bathrooms and change rooms are within the same small building. There are a couple of stalls for changing into your bathing suit. The bathroom has some fantastic art painted on its outer walls.

Are Dogs Allowed on Gonzales Beach?

Corgis playing in the water at Gonzales Beach
Corgis playing in the water at Gonzales Beach

Dogs are allowed on the beach between September 1 to May 31. During this time, your dog can be off-leash on the beach area. Enjoy taking a stroll along the crescent-shaped beach with your pooch or playing fetch in the calm waters with some driftwood.

From June 1st to August 31s, dogs are not allowed on the beach. Throughout the year, dogs must always be leashed on the grassy areas and pathways.

Food and Drinks at the Beach

There are no food or drink options located immediately at the beach. However, if you are willing to take a quick walk or drive, there are options less than 5 minutes away from the beach. Most food/drink options are located along Fairfield Road. You can grab something to eat at Fairfield Village, which has a couple of restaurant options and a grocery store.

Alternatively, if you don’t feel like venturing away from the beach, pack a picnic! You can spread your picnic blanket out on the sandy beach or on the grassy, terraced park, and enjoy watching the ocean while you eat your meal. There are also several picnic tables located at either end of the beach.

Accessibility

Ramp down to Gonzales Beach
Ramp down to Gonzales Beach

The beach is not very wheelchair accessible. While there is a ramp down to the beach, the ramp is steep with a single step at the bottom, and usually covered in sand making it slippery. Driftwood logs often make access to the ramp more difficult, as well. There is a railing that you can hold as you go down the ramp.

Other access points to the beach are stairways. The stairs may be a better option than the ramp for some people, due to the slipperiness of the ramp. For a more accessible beach, check out Cadboro-Gyro Park or Esquimalt Lagoon in Colwood.

Is There a Playground?

There is no playground at Gonzales Beach. However, the sheltered bay is a perfect area for kids to play in the calm ocean water, and the sand is perfect for digging and building sandcastles. Families tend to congregate on the west side of the beach, which is closer to the bathrooms and change rooms.

Other Amenities

There are several day-use picnic tables and benches where you can eat and overlook the beach. These are located along the west pathway at the end of Foul Bay Road. There are nearby garbage cans, as well.

The grassy area near Richmond Ave is terraced and you can hang out in the shade of the large trees, while still getting a good view of the ocean.

Viewing Gonzales Bay at the Gonzales Observatory

Gonzales Hill Observatory
Gonzales Hill Observatory

The Gonzales Observatory stands on the nearby Gonzales Hill, overlooking the bay and city of Victoria. Painted white and capped with a dome, the bright building stands out against the darker rocky hill. Less than 5 minutes away from the beach, the observatory is the perfect place to get a magnificent panoramic view of Gonzales Bay and watch the sunset over Sooke Hills.

In 1914, Environment Canada built the Gonzales Observatory to record weather, seismic activity, and astronomical readings. Previously, the Dominion Meteorological Services Pacific Coast used it as their headquarters, but the observatory was abandoned after 75 years of use in 1989. In 1992, the observatory became a heritage building, with the surrounding area turned into a park.

To get to Gonzales Observatory, you can follow the stairs off Barkley Terrace. Alternatively, drive up Denison Road to get to the Gonzales Hill parking lot, where you can walk up to the observatory. Not as many people know about the Gonzales Observatory, so it’s one of the more unusual things to do in Victoria, BC.

Gonzales Hill has a small map showing the names of all the land features that you can see. Look for the Trail Islands, which protect all kinds of threatened plant species. Or, on a clear day, try to see Mount Rainier which is the tallest mountain in Washington, USA.

History of Gonzales Beach

Crystal clear ocean water at Gonzales Beach
Crystal clear ocean water at Gonzales Beach

Originally, Gonzales Bay’s name was Foul Bay, due to reefs and rocks around the bay making it difficult to anchor ships (nothing to do with the beach itself!). Because ‘foul’ gives the wrong impression of this beautiful beach, local residents petitioned to change the name to Gonzales. In 1934, they succeeded and officially renamed the bay as Gonzales Bay.

The name Gonzales comes from Gonzalo Lopez de Haro, a Spanish explorer and first mate of the Princesa Real ship who helped map the ocean around Vancouver Island in 1790. You will find his name in many places around Vancouver Island, including the Haro Strait. A Hudson’s Bay Company surveyor, Joseph Despard Pemberton, named his house Gonzales and the name stuck with the neighborhood ever since.

In November 1969, a very bad, three-day-long storm ravaged the coastline of Victoria. Afterward, the city built a retaining wall around the beach to avoid any property damage or shoreline erosion. Also in the 1960s, people began building permanent houses around the bay, replacing the summer homes that lined the beach. These houses now surround the bay, with excellent views of the ocean.

Conclusions

One of the best sandy beaches in Victoria, Gonzales Beach is a real gem and an awesome place to hang out on a hot afternoon. Island life doesn’t get any better than laying in the sun on the soft sand of Gonzales Beach, in among the driftwood!

If you want to explore more beaches in Victoria, check out these other articles:

Top Travel Tips & Resources for Victoria, BC

  • Travel Insurance – If you’re travelling internationally, travel insurance is a must for any trip. Being covered by insurance is especially important when you’re going to an adventure-filled place like British Columbia. If you injure yourself while adventuring, you want to have insurance! We recommend using SafetyWing for international travel insurance. They are affordable and have great policies for travellers, digital nomads, and remote workers. Also, SafetyWing provides COVID-19 coverage, which many other insurance companies don’t cover.
  • Car Rental – We find the best deal on vehicle rental prices using RentalCars.com. They compare the prices for different car rental companies so you can find the best deals out there!
  • Accommodations – We prefer booking all of our hotels, hostels, and other accommodations through Booking.com because they have a flexible cancellation policy. Also, there are lots of different options on their platform, from hotels to vacation homes. Alternatively, Expedia and Hotels.com are good for booking accommodations. For vacation home rentals, VRBO is an excellent choice (they have lower fees than Airbnb, many of the same properties, and are more ethical).
  • Flights – You’ll find many good flight deals on Skyscanner or Google Flights. You can book flights through these websites and they’ll help you find the best prices and flight times. If you fly at less popular times (e.g. mid-week or red-eye flights), you can also save some money.
  • Tours – Get the most out of your vacation by taking a guided tour! This is a great way to see the city, adventure to exciting new locations, and learn about the local culture. Viator or GetYourGuide are great options for booking tours.

About the author

Hey, I'm Nicole! I've travelled all over the world but my favorite place is British Columbia. I've lived in Victoria, BC since 2019 and spend most of my free time travelling around BC. My goal is to explore as much of this beautiful province as possible. Along the way I'll be sharing travel tips with you!

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