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Algae tourism alive and well in Victoria, B.C.

May 17, 2013

Thanks to the water around Vancouver Island, Victoria is home to some of the purest seaweed in the world. (Nikki Bayley for the Globe and Mail)

Thanks to the water around Vancouver Island, Victoria is home to some of the purest seaweed in the world. (Nikki Bayley for the Globe and Mail)

Nikki Bayley, writing for the Victoria Globe and Mail, alerts us to an algae tourism culture developing in British Columbia. Thanks to the cold, clean waters around Vancouver Island, the Victoria area is home to some of the purest seaweed in the world.

Victoria’s seaweed starts growing on Dec. 21, when the planet is tilted away from the sun in the northern hemisphere and it begins reproducing after the spring equinox. The good stuff is to be found in the ocean, as opposed to washed up on the beach, and can only be harvested during seaweed season, which runs from May till September.

Here are a few ideas from Nikki for your next algae-based vacation in the grandly beautiful city and surroundings of Victoria, B.C.:

Take a two-hour Wild Seaweed tour with “Seaweed lady” and Sea Flora beauty founder Diane Bernard at the Western hemisphere’s only Seaweed Centre, in Sooke. Head out at low tide and discover how to hand-harvest in the pristine waters along the shoreline.

Have a seat at the polished tasting bar at the The Silk Road Tea Co. in Chinatown and sample a pot of “Mermaid’s Potion.” Far from weedy, this is a fresh and minty brew with a sophisticated smoky aftertaste.

Lie back and think of the algae at the Oak Bay Beach spa when you book an organic seaweed facial to detox and soothe stressed skin. Or try the Hotel Magnolia’s spa to experience a full-body seaweed therapy, which starts with a frond of seaweed smoothed down your spine and ends in a remineralizing massage.

Enjoy your algae raw, deep-fried, pickled, smoked or steamed – seaweed comes in many forms at the Sooke Harbour House restaurant. Sometimes it’s even baked into edible “plates” holding juicy just-caught crabmeat. The venturesome clientele here chomp their way through about 25 different kinds of seaweed during the season.

At the Veneto Tapa Lounge give Katie’s seaweed-garnished sunomono cocktail creation a whirl. With a deliciously tangy blend of vodka, shochu, honey and rice wine vinegar, with its very own kapa maki roll speared on the rim, salad never tasted so good.

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