A fashionable summer recreation and cottage area for over a century, Shawnigan Lake has seen its share of happy anglers, blissful sunbathers, and elegant day-trippers. The lake is still a favourite weekend getaway spot and has become one of Victoria's more popular 'bedroom' communities.
Shawnigan Lake Village is a well-known venue for arts and craft shows. Located on the eastern shore of the lake, the village contains two small general stores, three restaurants, several beaches and various small businesses, including a barber and two coffee shops. There is also a small but excellent museum, run by the Shawnigan Lake Historical Society.
Several beaches and small day-use areas are scattered around Shawnigan Lake.
Kinsol Trestle: Spanning the Koksilah River Valley, the Kinsol Trestle is one of the largest and highest wooden trestle bridges in the world. A complete restoration of the Kinsol Trestle was completed in 2011, retaining 60% of the historic timber. The bridge now allows hikers and bikers to see more of The Cowichan Valley Trail and Trans Canada Trail. To access Kinsol Trestle, turn north at the 4-way stop in Shawnigan Lake Village and continue passed Mason's Store on what becomes Old Port Renfrew Road for about 10km, then follow the signs.
Memory Island Provincial Park is located on the southern half of Shawnigan Lake. It only requires a short 1km paddle to reach this tranquil little park. Come ashore to picnic, stretch your legs and do a little laid-back bird-watching.
Bamberton Provincial Park is located east of Shawnigan Lake, and just south of the Mill Bay ferry terminal. A large swath of sandy beach fronts on the Saanich Inlet, and dozens of picnic tables sit on the terraced slopes above the beach, shaded by a Douglas fir and Arbutus (madrona) forest. Bamberton is the closest provincial park to Shawnigan Lake, and is one of the more scenic locations on Saanich Inlet. From the park you look east towards Mount Baker on the BC mainland.
The Trans Canada Trail Regional Park follows the abandoned Canadian National Railway (CNR) right-of-way from Sooke Lake Road (at the south end of Shawnigan Lake) to the Holt Creek trestle in the Glenora area. The trail will eventually connect with the Galloping Goose Trail and create a continuous national trail system from Mile '0' at Douglas and Dallas Roads in Victoria to St John’s Newfoundland, with a branch going up through the Yukon, a distance of approximately 17,400 kilometres.
North of Shawnigan Lake is the tiny farming village of Cobble Hill in the Cowichan Valley. Surrounded by a picturesque landscape and numerous vineyards and wineries, Cobble Hill is a creative community for painters, sculptors, and potters.
Golf: Golfers have a few golf courses in the area to choose from; Cowichan Golf and Country Club in Duncan (20 minutes from Crofton), Duncan Meadows Golf Course (15 minutes from Crofton), Mount Brenton Golf Course in Chemainus (10 minutes from Crofton), and Arbutus Ridge Golf Club in nearby Cobble Hill. Golf Vacations on Vancouver Island.
Paddling: Numerous shoreline marshes, an island park, and intriguing old lakeside cabins make Shawnigan Lake an excellent spot for kayaks and canoes.
The last spike on the E&N Railway was driven at Cliffside, on the east side of Shawnigan Lake.