If you’re looking for an easy but extremely rewarding walk, the Ogden Point Breakwater is a great choice. Located in James Bay, this 762-meter long walkway takes you from Dallas Road far out into the waters of Victoria’s harbor. It’s one of the stops on the hop-on-hop-off bus tours around the city.
Along the sides of the breakwater, there is a beautiful mural celebrating the Coast Salish peoples. At the end of the pathway, a small lighthouse protects the harbor waters, with benches where you can sit and enjoy beautiful panoramic ocean views.
The Breakwater is a great spot to watch floatplanes taking off (try a seaplane flight for some incredible views) and boats leaving the Inner Harbour. Massive cruise ships dock at the Ogden Point Piers, and you can marvel at their size on your walk. Also, you can spot harbor seals, river otters, and seabirds around the walkway. If you’re lucky, a pod of orcas might even swim by!
In the winter, the Breakwater is an amazing place for storm-watching. On your walk, you’ll get to watch the waves smashing against the breakwater, as well as the Dallas Road seawall. During strong storms, the crashing waves will even soak you!
During summer, you can shop at The Breakwater District’s Market on the Pier. If you get hungry, there is a bistro near the road. Also, the breakwater is also within walking distance of many other tourist attractions, such as the Dallas Road waterfront, Beacon Hill Park, and Fisherman’s Wharf.
In this article, you’ll learn everything that you need to know about the Ogden Point Breakwater. This post will help you plan your visit to this beautiful location and enjoy one of Victoria‘s most iconic places!
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Ogden Point Breakwater Highlights
- 762-metre (2500-foot) long, scenic breakwater walkway with a lighthouse at the end
- One of the longest murals in Canada: Na’Tsa’Maht The Unity Wall Mural
- Shopping at Market on the Pier during the summer
- One of the best and most popular spots in Victoria for scuba diving and snorkeling
- Interactive sundial commemorating BC’s 150th anniversary
Ogden Point Breakwater
The Ogden Point Breakwater (or “the Breakwater”) is a granite and concrete wall extending 762-meters into the entrance of Victoria’s harbour. Originally, it was built in response to increased shipping through the Pacific Ocean. Today, the breakwater is an iconic place in Victoria, perfect for enjoying views of the ocean.
About half a million people visit the breakwater each year. You can walk along the entire breakwater, watching the waves. Also, on calm days, you can walk on the lower granite blocks of the breakwater, accessed via stairs at the start and along the pathway. Watch out, they are uneven and can get slippery!
Constructed between 1914 to 1917, the breakwater consists of over 1 million cubic yards of rock dumped into the ocean to form the foundation. Then, over 10,000 granite blocks were stacked on top in a pyramid shape with nine layers, in up to 27-m (90 feet) of water. Each block weighed almost 15 tons, taken from quarries on Hardy, Haddington, and Nelson Islands on the Sunshine Coast. A concrete layer formed the walkway. Overall, the Ogden Point Breakwater cost about $5 million to build.
The breakwater was so well built that despite being exposed to the waves and storms for over 100 years, it hasn’t required any significant maintenance. Only 136 blocks needed repositioning since the breakwater was built! In 2014, the city added railings to make the pathway safer for pedestrians.
The namesake for the breakwater has a dark past. The breakwater takes its name from Peter Skene Ogden, a Hudson’s Bay Company trader and explorer (1790-1854). He was a violent person and murdered a First Nations man in 1816. As a result, the city recently rebranded the area as The Breakwater District.
Things to Know
Distance: 1.6 km roundtrip
Duration: 30 minutes
Public washrooms: None
Public transportation: Yes, #31 bus
Na’Tsa’Maht – Unity Wall Mural
Along the stone base of the Ogden Point Breakwater, you’ll notice a massive mural featuring Coast Salish artwork. Known as Na’Tsa’Maht – The Unity Wall Mural, this massive piece of artwork was created in 2009 to celebrate the Coast Salish peoples.
The harbor waters and surrounding land have been part of Lekwungen traditional territory for thousands of years. Their culture and traditions are tied intimately to the land and sea around Vancouver Island.
Na’Tsa’Maht – The Unity Wall Mural is one of the longest murals in Canada. Local South Salish artists created all the art on the mural. Butch Dick (Songhees Nation) and Darlene Gait (Esquimalt Nation) designed and painted the mural, with help from eleven mentored youths.
The mural consists of multiple phases (1 is closest to shore, 3 is furthest). Phase I represents the culture and traditions of the Lekwungen peoples. Phase II honors the traditional territories of the Esquimalt and Songhees, and also the interconnectedness of the Coast Salish peoples, the land, and the ocean. Designed in 2013, Phase III represents the creation of Victoria and Esquimalt, the Douglas Treaties, and the ultimate changes that colonization brought.
The best place to view the mural is from the land at the Ogden Point Pier. On calm days, you can also walk along the lower part of the breakwater, and enjoy the murals up close. Also, there are several spots along the upper pathway where you can view the mural.
Ogden Point Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
The Ogden Point Breakwater is one of the best places to dive around Victoria. It has a diverse ecosystem that’s a lot of fun to explore. You can snorkel or scuba dive, just make sure to bring a wetsuit!
You can swim through the kelp forests, which sway in the water and are home to numerous species. While in the water, you might spot colorful sea stars, shy octopuses, massive wolf eels, beautiful anemones, swimming crabs, unique-looking nudibranchs, and schools of fish. Occasionally, you might meet a curious harbour seal or river otter too!
You can enter the water from the beach or the breakwater. Carrying your gear down the pathway can be a pain, but the walk is worth it!
Water visibility is better in the fall and winter, but the kelp forests are full of life in the summer. The ocean around the breakwater is great for all skill levels, from beginners to advanced divers. You’ll never get bored diving at the breakwater since there’s so much to see. It’s even a good spot for night diving!
Events at the Breakwater District
Many events are held at The Breakwater District, especially during the summer when the cruise ships are visiting.
Market on the Pier occurs every Thursday through Saturday from May to September. This regular market hosts local vendors, with everything from food to crafts to jewelry. While this event is targeted at cruise ship visitors, it’s also a great place for residents of Victoria to check out and find some locally made goods.
Ogden Point Sundial
In 2009, the interactive Ogden Point Sundial was installed at the start of the breakwater to celebrate BC’s 150th anniversary. Unlike other sundials, the Ogden Point Sundial is interactive, making it a great teaching tool for children.
You can stand on the sundial and act as the gnomon (the part of the sundial that makes the shadow) to tell the time. There is also a scale to adjust where you stand, based on what time of year it is. Then, look for where your shadow falls along the edge of the sundial to figure out what time it is!
When to Visit
You can visit the Ogden Point Breakwater throughout the year. However, you should pay attention to the weather before you visit!
Unless you don’t mind getting splashed, we highly recommend only visiting the breakwater on calm days without much wind. While you can walk the breakwater on a stormy day, the waves crash hard against the stone wall, splashing high over the pathway and soaking you. Sometimes, it’s only a fine mist, but other times, it’ll feel like you’re standing in a shower!
Of course, getting splashed can be a lot of fun, especially in summer or if you’re wearing rain gear. But, keep in mind that the water in the ocean around Victoria is quite cold and on cool windy days, you’ll get cold fast!
How to Get to There and Parking
The Ogden Point Breakwater is pretty easy to get to from downtown Victoria, and only takes about 5-10 minutes of driving. To get there, follow Highway 1 down to Dallas Road, then turn right. Follow the scenic Dallas Road west, and you’ll quickly spot the breakwater.
You can park along Dallas Road or at the Breakwater District parking lot. Parking along Dallas Road is free, and only a short walk away. The parking on Dallas Road goes as far as Beacon Hill if you’re willing to walk.
Alternatively, there is a parking lot at The Breakwater District. However, public parking at this lot costs about $2 per hour, although parking is free on Sundays. Usually, you’ll be able to find parking on Dallas Road, however.
Also, if you bike to Ogden Point, there is a bike rack near the start of the breakwater. It’s located by the small building beside the parking lot.
Looking to Book a Hotel in Victoria?
Are you planning a trip to Victoria? Here are some hotel recommendations nearby the Breakwater:
- The Empress Hotel – The most famous hotel in Victoria, located right on the Inner Harbour!
- Hotel Grand Pacific – Affordably priced hotel with excellent Inner Harbour views
- The Craigmyle – Craigdarroch Castle is right across the street!
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.