It’s fun to play outside in Vancouver, British Columbia. Sure, it can be wet—but what’s a little rain when you’ve got a mild climate year-round to explore 1,300 hectares of parks, a series of mountains just outside the city limits, countless walking and cycling trails—and did I mention a combined 11 linear miles of beaches?
The beaches of Vancouver are as eclectic as the unique neighborhoods that make up the city. Each beach has its own distinct vibe and personality, all well worth checking out. Here are six beaches that any beach-lover needs to include on a visit to Vancouver.
Jutting out into the Pacific Ocean, the peninsula that houses the University of British Columbia has to be one of the most scenic campuses in the world. Those fit enough to trek down the nearly 500 wooden steps (remember, it’s easier going down than coming up!) will be rewarded with a perfectly secluded stretch of sandy and rocky shore.
It’s a good thing it’s secluded, too: Wreck Beach is a clothing optional beach, equally popular with hippies and nudists as it is with students indulging in a well-deserved study break. Entrepreneurial types stroll the beach selling crafts, food, and drink—most items legal; others, not so much.
English Bay Beach
Located in Vancouver’s West End neighborhood, English Bay is easily accessible from downtown, and is one of the busiest beaches on a perfect summer day.
With the skyscrapers and North Shore mountains behind you, English Bay is the perfect place to enjoy a sunset after a busy day of work, if you’re a local, or of sight-seeing, if you’re visiting.
Not only is English Bay easy to get to, but it’s well-equipped with just about everything you might need: huge washroom facilities, concession stands, kayak rentals, and a Cactus Club restaurant with some of the best views in the city.
Kitsilano is a young, sporty neighborhood just a bridge away from the downtown area, and “Kits” Beach is one of the area’s biggest landmarks. You’re likely to encounter gaggles of joggers, groups of yogis mid-practice, buddies tossing a pigskin or Frisbee, and crowds waiting for their turn to play on the beach volleyball courts.
Kits Beach has a relaxed vibe and will get busy on a beautiful day, but it’s big enough that you can typically find a place to lay a blanket even on the most crowded days.
Easily accessible but more remote than English Bay and Kits Beach, Jericho is the place to go if you’re looking for an unfussy picnic spot, a relaxed place to read a book, or somewhere to test out your favorite water toys.
Home to the Jericho Sailing Centre, there are also tennis courts nearby and swimming rafts to play with while your practice your laps. Jericho has a distinct rugged, natural feeling, and incredible views of the city and North Shore Mountains to boot.
Stanley Park is one of Vancouver’s crown jewels: 400+ hectares of protected forest surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, with the sea wall running along the entire perimeter of the park (for walkers, runners, cyclists and roller bladers). It’s easy to get the appeal.
In addition to a public swimming pool, an aquarium, a miniature railroad and a number of other attractions, Stanley Park includes a few beaches, like Second Beach.
With concessions, a playground, and plenty of beached logs to lean back on, Second Beach is the perfect place to stop for a break on a walk or cycle around the sea wall. If you aren’t keen on trekking the 10 kilometer pathway, don’t worry—access is much quicker from the other end of the park.
Shh—what’s that sound? It’s probably just the ocean lapping up on the shore, because Locarno is a designated quiet beach, which means no amplified sounds are allowed. It’s the perfect refuge for those ready to take a breather from city life.
Locarno is a smaller, relaxed beach in Vancouver’s West Point Grey neighborhood. The fields surrounding the beach are a popular place to spot wild rabbits. Kids will love it.