Oak Bay is the Greater Victoria municipality that’s home to Oak Bay Village, Willows Beach, Uplands Golf Course and half of the University of Victoria.
It’s also where you’ll find the Uplands residential neighbourhood, Cattle Point, the Oak Bay Beach Hotel and Gonzales Observatory. The Royal Victoria Yacht Club, Gonzales Bay and Victoria Golf Club are also in the municipality, as is a large part of Victoria’s Scenic Drive.
Oak Bay, BC
The District of Oak Bay is one of 13 municipalities that make up Greater Victoria. It’s a coastal community located on the southeastern tip of the region and it’s surrounded by water on its southern and eastern sides. To the west is the City of Victoria and to the north and northwest is the District of Saanich.
Oak Bay is a small but fairly affluent community that’s known for its beautiful older homes. The municipality is only slightly more than 10 square kilometres in size and its population is less than 20,000.
Places of Interest
The municipality is primarily a residential community and there are many places of interest in the area. Surrounded by ocean, there are a number of beaches, bays and waterfront venues to visit. There are also popular parks, golf courses and places to walk.
Below is a list of popular sights including Oak Bay Village, area parks and beaches, and other miscellaneous places of interest.
Oak Bay Village
The main commercial area within the municipality is Oak Bay Village. It includes about 6 or so blocks of shops and restaurants along Oak Bay Avenue between just east of Foul Bay Road and the beginning of Newport Avenue.
The Village is a cute little area. The public library is there, as well as a grocery store, drug store and a few banks. There is also the Penny Farthing Pub, Octavio Italian Bakery, Roger’s Chocolates, and a number of other coffee shops and restaurants.
This street off of Beach Drive connects Willows Beach to a block of unique shops and restaurants. On Estevan you can find The Village, a popular brunch restaurant, Willow’s Galley, a fish and chips joint, a pharmacy, a flower shop and other boutiques selling jewelry and home decor.
Parks and Beaches
Some of Victoria’s best parks and beaches are located in Oak Bay including Willows Beach and beaches at Gonzales Bay and McNeil Bay.
Willows Park and Willows Beach
One of the largest and most significant beaches in the entire region is Willows Beach. It’s located at 2740 Dalhousie Street on the east coast of Greater Victoria just south of Cattle Point and Uplands Park.
Willows Beach boasts over half a kilometre of sandy beach and views of Mt. Baker in Washington State (on clear sunny days). At Willows Park there is also a large grassy field, a children’s play area and a concession stand entitled the Willows Beach Tea Room. In the summer, Willows is also where the Oak Bay Tea Party takes place.
Whether you’re there for a stroll, swim or play in the sand, on a sunny summer day Willows Beach is one of Victoria’s best places to be!
Gonzales Bay and McNeil Bay
Other smaller beaches in the municipality include the beaches at Gonzales Bay and McNeil Bay. Both are small, but pretty places.
Gonzales Bay is a tiny bay in a residential neighbourhood at the foot of Foul Bay Road. It’s one of Victoria’s lesser known beaches and used primarily by people who live in the area. It’s also one of the region’s prettiest little bays and has a wonderful sandy beach.
McNeil Bay is the body of water along Beach Drive just west of the Victoria Golf Club. The beach there is beautiful, with views of the Olympic Mountains in Washington State across the water. It’s not a popular beach for swimming and sun tanning though. For those activities, head to Willows Beach, or to Gonzales Bay if you don’t like crowds.
TIP #1: Many of these beaches allow dogs off-leash during specific times of the year (not in the summer because of crowds and bird-nesting season) so check the specific beach ahead of time.
TIP #2: If you are able to, get your hands on a kayak, stand-up paddle board, or other sort of watercraft and make your way to Mary Tod Island (more commonly known as Jimmy Chicken Island by the locals). Here you will find a beautiful small island that has an amazing view of the Marina and Willows Beach. It is home to otters, seals, and many types of gorgeous, loud birds. Before you go you may also want to read up on why it’s called Jimmy Chicken Island. (Note: Please take all your garbage and belongings with you when you leave.)
Other Places of Interest
Other places of interest in the municipality of Oak Bay include the following:
- Abkhazi Garden – a beautiful garden located near the southern border of Oak Bay. Admission is by donation.
- Beach Drive – a scenic road running along the southern and eastern shores of the municipality.
- Cattle Point – a waterfront park between the Uplands neighbourhood and Willows Beach.
- Gonzales Hill Regional Park – a small and fairly rugged park that’s home to an observatory.
- Gonzales Observatory – an astronomical observatory located at the top of Gonzales Hill Regional Park.
- Oak Bay Beach Hotel – a fairly large luxury boutique hotel at 1175 Beach Drive.
- Oak Bay Marina – a full-service marina that’s also home to the Marina Restaurant at 1327 Beach Drive.
- Royal Victoria Yacht Club – a yacht club near Cadboro Bay at 3475 Ripon Road.
- Scenic Drive – a popular and very scenic route to drive along from near Victoria’s Inner Harbour, past the Breakwater, through Beacon Hill Park, along Dallas Road, past Clover Point and by the Ross Bay Cemetery in Victoria. The Oak Bay portion of the drive then continues past Trafalgar Park and along Beach Drive to Cattle Point and Uplands.
- Trafalgar Park – a small and fairly rugged park along Scenic Drive at 240 King George Terrace that has a beautiful lookout overlooking the ocean.
- University of Victoria – the third largest university in the province located between North Oak Bay and the Saanich neighbourhood of Gordon Head.
- The neighbourhood of Uplands – a salubrious residential neighbourhood that’s home to many of Victoria’s most expensive homes.
- Uplands Golf Club – a fancy private golf course.
- Uplands Park – a park in a natural setting that’s home to Cattle Point.
- Victoria Golf Club – an exclusive private golf club on the waterfront.
A number of special events take place in the municipality each year including the following:
- Oak Bay Tea Party – an annual fair that includes amusement rides at Willows Beach in early June.
- Oak Bay Half Marathon – a half marathon running race in late May.
- Christmas in Oak Bay – a week of special Christmas activities in the Village from late November until the beginning of December.
- Oak Bay Night Market – a large night market that takes place in the Village on the second Wednesday of the month in June, July, August and September.