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Race Rocks Ecological Reserve
Race Rocks Ecological Reserve

Race Rocks Ecological Reserve

Comprising jagged rocks, reef, and ocean, this protected ecological reserve showcases a wide range of Pacific marine wildlife. Nutrient-rich tidal flows support an assortment of plants and animals, from sponges and sea stars to sea lions, seals, and killer whales, while a rocky islet hosts a historic 19th-century lighthouse.

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Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

The basics

The diversity of marine life at Race Rocks makes it a prime wildlife-viewing location. Conservation efforts mean that sightseers are not able to explore the land area but they can tour the surrounding waters by boat.

Join a marine wildlife-viewing boat tour departing from Victoria and cruise around the reserve, where you might encounter various seal, sea lion, bird, and whale species. For a more in-depth look at the underwater environment, go diving or snorkeling instead. In addition to the rich underwater marine life, you may also see debris from the many vessels that met their fate against these craggy rocks.

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Things to know before you go

  • Tidal currents can be strong at Race Rocks and proper precautions should be taken by divers: it’s best to go during slack tide and with a guide.
  • Fishing is not allowed within the reserve.
  • Dress warm as it’s typically several degrees colder here than it is on land.
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How to get there

Race Rocks Ecological Reserve is off the south coast of Vancouver Island, about 11 nautical miles from Victoria near the US border. The reserve can only be accessed by boat, with wildlife-watching cruises making regular trips here during the summer season.

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Trip ideas

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When to get there

If you plan on diving, spring and fall typically offer the best visibility. April through October is the best time for whale-watching at Race Rocks.

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Wildlife at Race Rocks

The sheer variety of species at Race Rocks is astounding, given its relatively modest size—the reserve covers an area of just 618 acres (251 hectares). The rocks are a common nesting ground for gulls, oystercatchers, and pigeon guillemots, as well as a home for harbor and elephant seals, and Steller and California sea lions. River otters can be seen floating near the shoreline. Orcas, gray whales, and porpoises also frequent these waters.

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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What are the nearest attractions to Race Rocks Ecological Reserve?
A:
Attractions near Race Rocks Ecological Reserve:
Q:
What else should I know about attractions in Victoria?
A:
As well as visiting the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve, check out these trip ideas to make the most of your visit: