Hey folks, thanks again for your suggestions. I ran into one small problem: when I got to the car rental place, they told me my drivers' license was expired and I couldn't rent a car. Sure enough, it was. So, I took the bus out of Sidney to John Dean Provincial Park, and spent most of the day wandering around there in a light drizzle. There was maybe one other person in the park the whole day, and it was great just to wander aimlessly amongst the doug firs and spruce.
I'm slightly bummed I couldn't make it to the coast, but still it was a fun day, and next time I'll come back with a valid drivers' license and my family.