Vancouver is surrounded by beaches, and there has to be one that suits your style, whether it’s the see-and-be-seen Kits Beach, the clothing-optional Wreck Beach, or the family-friendly Spanish Banks. And even though Vancouver has a reputation for endless rain, the summers here are actually quite dry and sunny, so there’s lots of opportunity to soak in the sun. Here are some of the best.
English Bay Beach at the end of Davie Street, off Denman Street and Beach Avenue, is a busy spot, where all the residents of the West End flock on sunny weekends. Everyone, and just about everything, goes here. Its centerpiece is the historic Art Deco bathhouse, built in 1932, now the site of a Cactus Club Café, and in summer, a huge playground slide is mounted on a raft just off the beach. This is a great spot to walk the dog or watch the sunset.
On Stanley Park’s western rim, Second Beach is a short stroll north from English Bay Beach and features a playground, snack bar, and an immense heated oceanside pool that’s open from Victoria Day weekend through Labour Day weekend. This is a convenient and fun spot for families. Farther along the seawall, due north of Stanley Park Drive, lies secluded Third Beach, a popular spot for summer barbecues. Oddly enough, there’s no First Beach.
South of English Bay Beach, near the Burrard Street Bridge, is Sunset Beach. Running along False Creek, it’s actually a picturesque strip of sandy beaches filled with enormous driftwood logs that serve as windbreaks and provide a little privacy for sunbathers and picnickers. A snack bar, basketball courts, and a long, gently sloping grassy hill are available for people who prefer lawn to sand.
On the West Side, Kitsilano Beach, along Cornwall Street near Arbutus Street, is affectionately called Kits Beach. It’s an easy walk from the Maritime Museum and the False Creek ferry dock. If you want to do a saltwater swim but can’t handle the cold, head to the huge, heated Kitsilano Pool.
Farther west on the other side of Hastings Mill Park is Jericho Beach (Alma St. off Point Grey Rd.), another local after-work and weekend social spot. Locarno Beach, at the north end of Trimble and Tolmie streets, and Spanish Banks, on Northwest Marine Drive, lead to the Point Grey Foreshore that wraps around the northern point of the UBC campus and University Hill. (Note that the beachside restrooms and concessions end abruptly at Spanish Banks East.)
Below UBC’s Museum of Anthropology is Point Grey Beach, a restored harbor-defense site. The next beach is Wreck Beach, Canada’s largest nude beach. You get down to Wreck Beach by taking the steep Trails 4 or 6 on the UBC campus, which lead down to the water’s edge. Extremely popular with locals and maintained by its own preservation society, Wreck Beach is also the city’s most pristine and least-developed sandy stretch, bordered on three sides by towering trees.
For information on any of Vancouver’s many beaches, call tel. 604/738-8535 (summer only).
On the North Shore, the coastline tends to be rocky and inhospitable, more cliff than beach, but Ambleside Park is one popular spot where you can shake out your towel. It’s located at the northern foot of the Lions Gate Bridge, facing Burrard Inlet.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.