185 Ardmore

Ardmore is the name of a neighbourhood in North Saanich, most widely known for Coles Bay Regional Park and the Ardmore Golf Course. Ardmore Drive, on the west side of the neighbourhood, has at least four public beach access points. One of these, which Google Maps now labels as Yarrow Beach Access #83, is the most popular one for snorkelling.

Ardmore Drive comes to a dead end at what marine navigation charts label as Yarrow Point, not to be confused with the town of Yarrow Point near Bellevue, WA. Not far from the end of the road is a white and red fire hydrant, adjacent to which is the beginning of an easy 150 m trail to the shore of Saanich Inlet.

My most recent visit to the Ardmore site was in late June. By that time of year the water in the inlet is much warmer than it is not far away in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and in Haro Strait, so much so that I only wear a 3 mm thick short tropical wetsuit while snorkelling there in summer.

Ardmore – Surface Panorama

This first video is a surface panorama of the area. It begins and ends at a nice pocket beach just around to the left from where the trail meets the shore. That is my favourite entry/exit point but, without treading onto private property, it can only be walked to at a low enough tide. During daylight hours, that only happens in summer. This video was taken when the tide height at the Patricia Bay station was 1.3 metres. Most of the time though, I just get in to and out of the water near the base of the stairs at the end of the trail.

One advantage of entering and exiting near the stairs is that the bench at the end of the path and the back of the metal sign behind it are convenient visual reference points. There is also a large single-story house on the south side of the path. At sites with nothing but trees and rocks along the shore, it can be difficult to remember or recognize where you began your hour or more of swimming round face-down in the water.

About half way through the video, partially hidden by my tow float, can be seen Dyer Rocks. For seeing marine life, those two islets are the most interesting part of the site. They can be reached with a 200 m swim but there was an unusual amount of summer recreational boat traffic and I was just using some vintage scuba fins so I did not venture out that far that day. I hope to eventually add a blog post that includes an older video from my best day there.

This second video shows some of the marine life that I saw while staying close to the shore.

Highlights include:

  • 00:22 Moon snail egg masses
  • 01:00 Ochre star
  • 01:13 Leather star
  • 01:21 Squid eggs
  • 01:40 Crabs
  • 01:47 Lightbulb tunicates
  • 01:57 Seal doing fin flaps

At 2-3 m, the visibility was not much worse than is common for the shallows of Saanich Inlet at that time of year.

By Brian

Owner and administrator of this website Resident of North Saanich on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada


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