The attractive residential community of Oak Bay is considered the most "British" neighbourhood in Greater Victoria. Established by wealthy city residents anxious to escape the mud flats of the Inner Harbour, Oak Bay still retains a distinct genteel flavour, reflected by its village shops, restaurants and tearooms.
No matter what time of year you visit, there is always a warm welcome awaiting you in charming Oak Bay.
Oak Bay is named after the distinctively characteristic Garry Oak, the single oak species native to the Coastal Pacific Northwest. The huge, gnarled trees, with their contorted limbs and massive crowns are prevalent along Beach Drive through Uplands and Cadboro Bay, some of which are over 400 years old.
At some point in its history, Oak Bay captured the nickname "Tweed Curtain," an affectionate, tongue-in-cheek reference to its British heritage. This explains the tea rooms. However, times have changed, and so has Oak Bay. Yes, there are tearooms, but there are also cafes, pubs, take-out fish and chips, great restaurants, and a charming shopping district with a wonderful array of specialty shops and art galleries.
The best way to explore Oak Bay is on a bicycle. One of the most popular routes is along the Scenic Marine Drive. This exceptionally picturesque roadway follows the shoreline and grants magnificent water and mountain views. It is said, and it's true, that Oak Bay has million dollar views at any time of the day. The Scenic Marine Drive leads through the Royal Victoria Golf Course, which is the oldest course in the Pacific Northwest. Continuing along the route, stately mansions hug the shorelines to the east and the south in Uplands, a neighbourhood famous for having more millionaires per square mile than any other place in Canada.
Oak Bay has several beautiful gardens to stroll through, and parks with plenty of viewpoints. Besides being bicycle friendly, Oak Bay is also pedestrian friendly. The community takes pride in its many peaceful streets of elegant homes and gardens. As you walk or cycle, take special note of the stately Garry Oak trees that line most streets.
Marine life in its natural habitat can often be seen from the shores of Oak Bay. Sailors, fishermen, and kayakers are not alone in the ocean. They are likely to be sharing the sea with one of three pods of killer whales, gray whales, or minke whales, and as always, curious harbour seals.
Location: Oak Bay is located east of downtown Victoria. Oak Bay is bordered by the University of Victoria and Saanich to the north, Foul Bay Road to the west, Haro Strait to the east and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the south.