Vancouver Island is home to seemingly endless amazing and unique attractions and the Fairy Lake Bonsai Tree is one of the more weird and wonderful things that you may stumble across as you explore the island. It’s incredible to think that this tiny little tree has such a draw to people who are on a road trip around Vancouver Island, especially when it can be so easy to miss unless you know exactly where to look.
The Fairy Lake tree grows on the end of a submerged log near the edge of Fairy Lake and you can enjoy it from several viewpoints along the road, or take a small trail right down to the edge of the water for a closer look. We highly recommend making a stop here if you are exploring nearby Port Renfrew and the numerous beautiful beaches of the west coast, like Sombrio and Mystic Beach.
How to Get to Fairy Lake, BC
Fairy Lake is only 8.5 kilometres from Port Renfrew, which is less than a 15-minute drive. You’ll find it along Pacific Marine Road which is the road that runs between Lake Cowichan and Port Renfrew. From Port Renfrew, follow signs for Lake Cowichan, turning right on Pacific Marine Road after Deering Bridge. The bonsai tree will be on the righthand side.
The bonsai tree is best viewed from a spot about 400 metres from the entrance to the Fairy Lake Recreation Site, towards Lake Cowichan.
For parking, there is a small gravel area along the side of the road right in front of the tree with room for a few cars. If this roadside parking area is full, there are some other pullouts you can park in slightly further along the road. If you are staying in Fairy Lake campground then it is just a few minutes walk along Pacific Marine Road to reach this viewing area.
Fairy Lake Bonsai Tree
While this tree that is defying the odds is affectionately referred to as a bonsai tree, it is actually a tiny Douglas Fir tree and the submerged log that it is growing on is also a Douglas Fir. From the roadside parking along Pacific Marine Road, there are several viewpoints where you can get excellent views of the tree between the breaks in the bushes.
We recommend walking a couple of hundred metres along the road so you can enjoy seeing this unique sight from several different angles. While the view from the road is great, we recommend taking the small beaten earth path down to the edge of the lake so that you can view the tree from the water level.
The path is small but easy to find as it is right in the middle of the gravel pullout and you’ll see a small hole in the trees which you can scramble down. The edge of the lake is quite muddy but if you are careful you can get right to the edge of the water and it is only a few metres down from the roadside.
From here you’ll get the best perspective of the bonsai tree as you have unobstructed views and it sits right around eye level from down here. This really is such a quirky spot and one of the more unique things to do on Vancouver Island.
The remote location of the lake and the tree also makes this an awesome stop as there are no crowds. We visited on a beautiful Saturday morning in the summer and when we first arrived we were the only people here, with one more car joining us just before we left. This is such a cool spot to visit and one we highly recommend visiting if you are in the area.
Fairy Lake Camping
As mentioned above, you will find the Fairy Lake campground just a few hundred metres from the tree. This is a quaint campground in amongst the trees and there are even a handful of campsites on the edge of the water. We didn’t stay here but when we drove through the rec site there were still a handful of sites left.
There are 36 sites and it is an RV-friendly campground. Plus, there is a small boat launch here too. You’ll find pit toilets and picnic benches here but there are no shower facilities and no potable water available.
Because it is a couple of hours drive from the likes of Victoria and Nanaimo, it never tends to get too busy and you should have no problem finding a campground on most days throughout the year. This is also a great hub to explore the rest of the region, including Port Renfrew, Botanical Beach, Big Lonely Doug, Sombrio Beach and plenty of other hidden gems in the area.
Fairy Lake is a great place for swimming, fishing, kayaking and boating (electric motors only) and you’ll even find a couple of small trails around the lake too. If you are looking for somewhere to camp for a couple of nights, this is an excellent choice. You can find more details on the Fairy Lake Campground on Vancouver Island here.
The Fairy Lake Bonsai Tree is one of the more unusual and less well-known attractions on Vancouver Island and we highly recommend a visit to Fairy Lake in Port Renfrew next time you are in the area or if you are planning a short getaway. It’s one of the hidden gems around Vancouver Island and you’ll enjoy the tranquil beauty around this lake, tucked away amongst the dense forest.
Planning a trip to Vancouver Island? Check out some of our other guides here: