Vancouver is a beautiful coastal city surrounded by water and mountains. It’s known for having some of the best beaches in Canada. The beaches around Vancouver offer something for everyone - whether you want to swim, surf, sunbathe or just take in views of the ocean and mountains. Here is an overview of the top beaches to visit in Vancouver:
English Bay is one of the most popular and well-known beaches in Vancouver. Located in the West End neighbourhood, it is easily accessible and close to many attractions.
- English Bay is a sandy beach that gently slopes into the ocean, making it suitable for swimming and sunbathing.
- The beach is about 1.6 km long so even on busy summer days it doesn’t feel overcrowded. There is plenty of space to lay out your towel.
- One of the main highlights is the incredible sunset views with the mountains in the background. Stay until dusk to watch the sunset over the ocean.
- English Bay has volleyball courts, a playground, concession stands and nearby washroom facilities.
- In summer there is a free local festival with live music and food trucks along the beach promenade.
Kitsilano or “Kits Beach” is another popular beach located in the Kitsilano neighbourhood, close to the University of British Columbia.
- It has fine white sand and is a great beach for swimming or beach volleyball. There are several permanent volleyball nets set up.
- The ocean bottom slopes gradually, making it safe for children.
- There is a large grassy park area adjacent to the beach that is perfect for picnicking or relaxing in the sun.
- The Kitsilano Showboat outdoor saltwater swimming pool is located at the beach.
- Grab an ice cream from the concession and take a stroll along the beach to take in views of English Bay, the North Shore mountains and downtown Vancouver.
Wreck Beach is a secluded clothing-optional beach located below steep cliffs at the western tip of Vancouver near UBC.
- To reach Wreck Beach you need to use a steep staircase trail that leads down the cliffs to the shore. This means the beach is not accessible to everyone.
- Once you make it down, you are rewarded with a 7.8 km secluded sandy beach. Since it takes effort to reach, the beach is rarely crowded.
- There are designated areas where being clothing-optional is acceptable. Outside of these areas swimsuits are required.
- At Wreck Beach you can sunbathe or swim in the Pacific Ocean without the crowds. Listen to the waves crash against the shore for relaxation.
- Vendors sell snacks and drinks, and there is a relaxed, welcoming vibe. Just be prepared for the hike back up the stairs when you leave!
Jericho Beach is located in the West Point Grey neighbourhood, surrounded by Jericho Beach Park.
- The beach has calm, shallow waters that are ideal for swimming and boogie boarding.
- Windsurfing and sailing are also popular sports to try out on the water.
- There is a pier that extends out into the water, equipped with diving boards to jump off during the summer months.
- Jericho Beach has washroom facilities, a concession stand, plenty of picnic tables and a playground for kids.
- The park area surrounding the beach has hiking and biking trails to enjoy on a nice day.
- Stick around in the evenings to watch colorful sunsets over the Vancouver skyline in the distance.
Locarno Beach is located in Vancouver’s West End neighbourhood, close to English Bay.
- This beach has a seawall path that is perfect for walking, running or biking along the ocean. Rent a bike and cycle the scenic Stanley Park seawall.
- The sandy beach slopes gently into the ocean, making it family-friendly for swimming.
- Relax on the grass at the back of the beach, or enjoy a picnic at the tables.
- There are beach volleyball courts, tennis courts, and a large play area for kids.
- Stay to watch the sunset behind the Lions Gate Bridge at night. Stroll over to the restaurants on nearby Denman Street when you get hungry.
How To Decide Which Beach To Visit
With so many amazing beaches to choose from in Vancouver, how do you decide which one to visit on any given day? Here are some tips:
- Accessibility - Some beaches like Wreck Beach require hiking down a steep trail to reach them. If mobility is an issue, choose an accessible beach.
- Proximity - Consider how close the beach is to where you are staying. English Bay and Locarno Beach are great choices for staying downtown.
- Activities - Want to play volleyball? English Bay and Kitsilano have courts. Into windsurfing? Check out Jericho Beach.
- Crowds - For more solitude, try Wreck Beach. English Bay and Kitsilano are busier on summer weekends.
- Views - English Bay, Kitsilano and Jericho have beautiful mountain views. Locarno has views of the Lions Gate Bridge.
- Parking - Some beaches like Kitsilano have nearby parking lots. English Bay has limited street parking.
- Amenities - Beaches like English Bay and Kitsilano have concessions and washrooms. Wreck Beach has minimal amenities.
Alternatives To Vancouver Beaches
While Vancouver has some beautiful beaches, the cold water may deter some people from swimming for much of the year. Here are some alternative waterfront areas to enjoy in Vancouver:
- Seawall Path - Walk, bike or rollerblade along the scenic, paved 22 km Stanley Park seawall route. Take in views of beaches, harbors and vistas.
- Kitsilano Pool - This large outdoor saltwater pool is located right on the ocean at Kits Beach. Swim laps or relax in the heated pool.
- Granville Island - Wander around the public market and enjoy views of False Creek during a day on Granville Island.
- Sunset Beach Park - Watch the sunset over English Bay from Sunset Beach Park. Less busy than English Bay beach.
- Harbour Cruise - Take a boat cruise departing from downtown Vancouver Harbour to see the city skyline and surrounding mountains from the ocean.
- Sea To Sky Gondola - Ride the gondola up to see views of Howe Sound and visit the nearby Shannon Falls.
- Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge - Walk this free suspension bridge over a canyon in North Vancouver. Swim in one of the summer wading pools.
5 Tips For Enjoying Vancouver Beaches
- Pack warm layers - even on hot days the ocean water stays very cold year round. Wear a wetsuit or dry off quickly when exiting the water.
- Check tide schedules - some beaches like Wreck Beach become very narrow at high tide. Plan your visit for low tide.
- Look for parking early - near beaches like English Bay, parking spots fill up fast. Arrive early in the day or consider walking, biking or public transit.
- Keep an eye on the weather - windy days make beaches less ideal. Check forecasts and head inland if winds are high.
- Stay safe in the water - never swim alone and stay within designated swimming areas marked by buoys. Submerged logs and rip currents can be hazards.
Vancouver offers a terrific variety of beautiful beaches to enjoy all year round. From the bustling sands at English Bay to the secluded shores of Wreck Beach, there are options for all interests and weather conditions. Pay attention to the tides, wear warm layers for the chilly water and check the forecast before heading out. The beaches showcase Vancouver's incredible natural assets of ocean, mountains and forest. Pack a snack, build a sandcastle and enjoy some time at one of Vancouver's scenic seaside escapes.