Your guide to where to take photos in town
The beginning of the school year is all about sharing; our friends and classmates will share used textbooks, directions to the cheapest grocery stores, or their opinion on the best cup of joe on campus.
These are all helpful tips, but what we really need in these first few weeks of school are some likes on Instagram. Don’t bother with the popular places such as the Butchart Gardens, Beacon Hill Park, and the breakwater — places that are sure to be suggested by all your friends.
I’m here to share some of the lesser-known but still #beautiful, #scenic, and #explorable places in Victoria. Read on to make your feed one to remember this September.
Ross Bay Cemetery
Back in the day, my dad used to go down here with his friends in the evening; one group among many that used to dare each other to go down in the dark and walk the pathways between the gravestones. It’s right next to the ocean, and is as spooky as it is beautiful. While I was wandering through the trees, I found a deer resting on a grave and I sat by her for a while, listening to my iPod and enjoying the sunshine.
Bus route #51 will take you all the way from UVic to the Juan De Fuca Park and Ride, which is, in turn, just a short bike ride down to the long beach of Esquimalt Lagoon and the Fisgard Lighthouse. The lighthouse is a historical landmark and Esquimalt Lagoon, with its long expanse of road with beach on either side, is the perfect beach for a morning run or walk. The sunrise on the beach is worth waking up early for, and that is saying something — I know how much we students value sleep.
If you ever need a good hike with a magical view of Victoria laid out before you, a nice drive with some beautiful forest at the top to roam around, or just a couple likes on Instagram with a sweaty photo of you at the top of a mountain, then Mt. Doug is the place for you! You can bike, hike, walk a dog, or even drive up the mountain road to the summit. It’s a bit of a rite of passage as a Victoria dweller so pack a lunch, grab some runners, and don’t forget to hashtag.
Dallas Road is a treasure trove of sunset views and puppy spotting (and petting of course). Less traversed than the popular Ogden Point, Clover Point is right down the road from the many tasty take-out options in Cook Street Village that are a wonderful accompaniment to sitting on beach logs and watching the waves.
A splendidly photogenic location, there are so many walking paths among the upper and lower lakes with cliffs and rocky shoreline to swim, jump, and sun off of. The lighting can be absolutely amazing during overcast days (perfect for selfies) and it is definitely worth the trip out of the UVic bubble.
Channel your inner royalty (or X-man) by exploring the grounds and gardens of Royal Roads University and Hatley Castle. The castle is much smaller and cheaper to attend than the famous Butchart Gardens, with gorgeous photo opportunities and the option to take a tour of the castle itself. It’s wonderful for bringing a picnic lunch or heading to the beach after strolling the gardens.
Small and generally only visited and frequented by locals, Gonzales Beach is a Victorian gem. It has a light, sandy beach, clear blue waters, and an awfully cliché rope swing to take photos on.
A secret little beach nestled in a residential area, it is a bit out of the way and tricky to find, but completely worth it — Balmacarra Beach speaks to my soul. Quiet and perfect for exploring, if you head down the stairs and all the way to the left, you will find a concrete pool built into the rocks. Beyond that, a grassy knoll with a beautiful view of the ocean awaits.
One of my favourite places in Victoria, The Gorge is a lovely walk along the waterway with many benches that I have sat on and had wonderful conversations with friends over a coffee, or settled in with a book and flashcards for studying. The waterway is truly a hidden gem of Victoria that many students have never even heard of before.
Photos clockwise from top left: Hatley Castle; Balmacara Beach; Clover Point; Thetis Lake, Ross Bay Cemetery. All photos by Belle White, Contributor Writer