Listed among the top 10 beach cities in the world, Vancouver has not only sand and waves, but skyline, mountain and ocean views to boot. Whether your goal is sunbathing, swimming, playing or shedding all your clothing, you’re sure to find the perfect beach just a short distance from downtown...

Kitsilano Beach (aka Kits Beach)

kits beach kisilano poolTourism Vancouver/ Kitsilano Chamber of Commerce

For whatever reason, ridiculously good-looking people seem to hang out at Kits Beach, which means it’s perfect for both people-watching and dazzling the crowd with your new beach body. Despite being the place to ‘see and be seen’, Kits is also a fun spot for families and beach-goers interested in doing some serious swimming.

The beach can be crowded on hot days, but generally there’s enough room to accommodate the sunbathers, as well as the volleyball players. There are nearby tennis courts and a lawn that’s popular for Frisbee. A small playground keeps young kids entertained and the selection of bars and restaurants across the street attract the remaining crowd when the sun begins to dip. This is also where you’ll find Canada’s longest pool.

kits pool kitsilanoTourism Vancouver/ Kitsilano Chamber of Commerce

The easternmost beach on the western coast of Vancouver, Kits has some spectacular scenery, encompassing the North Shore Mountains, Stanley Park and the open bay. The calm waters make this one of the better beaches for swimming.

Parking is off of Cornwall Avenue, but the beach is easily reached by bus or the False Creek Ferry.

 

Wreck Beach

van 3creativecommons.org/Guilhem Vellut

Perhaps a little less family-oriented, the beach gets part of its fame from being ‘clothing optional’. If your goal is to tan, well – everything - you can strip down and oil up at this slightly hippyish beach. Many less-inhibited families visit, and there is nothing inappropriate going on if you and your kids are open-minded.

Wreck beach is beautiful and unspoiled, cherished by those who come for the Bare Buns Run and some fun, skinny-dipping events. The beach is low and flat and can be completely covered at high tide. Visitors hoping to spend a day will benefit from checking the tide tables before making plans.

Naturists do expect some common courtesy from other beach-goers. Don’t stare, regardless of what you see, and certainly don’t point your camera at any of the other bathers. They are not there to show off; they just appreciate the feel of nature on their skin.

Wreck Beach is across from the University of British Columbia and at the base of a cliff, necessitating a trek down a steep path. No wheelchairs or strollers, and first-time visitors may have some difficulty locating the trails.

 

Spanish Banks

Spanish Banks Vancouver Beach KitsTourism Vancouver/ Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC)

Despite being a little farther from downtown, the view from the beach convinces many that the extra distance is worth it. The area is divided into three separate sections, Banks East, Banks West and the Spanish Banks Extension. All areas have lifeguards during the season, but West and the Extension have off-leash areas for dogs. Banks West is a designated “quiet beach” with no amplified music permitted.

Beach bums can play volley ball or enjoy picnic spots with barbecue pits and a kiteboarding launch zone. All areas are best visited at low tide, when the water can be more than a kilometre from the high tide mark. Skimmers are quickly realizing that when conditions are right, this is also the best place to hone their skim boarding skills.

Although it’s one of the best beaches around, Spanish Banks is usually a little less crowded than Kits or other beaches close to the city. There is free parking near the sections, all of which can be accessed from NW Marine Drive.

 

Jericho Beachvan 5creativecommons.org/Michael Whyte

Another slightly remote beach, this beach is near the Seawall, which is one of Vancouver’s most popular running, biking and walking destinations.

The east side of the beach is best for swimmers and building sandcastles, while the west side is great for sailboats and windsurfers. Jericho Beach Park has many picnic areas, a tennis court and a pond. This is also the home of the Jericho Sailing Centre for small, naturally-powered water craft. A beach wheelchair is available for disabled persons and a lifeguard is on duty between Victoria Day and Labour Day.

Kitsilano Jericho Beach Kayaking SwimmingTourism Vancouver / Kitsilano Chamber of Commerce

This is where you’ll find the only beach retreat hostel in Vancouver – the HI Jericho Beach. Not only is it a fun place to stay, they have all the info about the area and can suggest the best location for whatever beach activity you are interested in. Parking is pay only, but closer to Locarno you may find some free spots.

 

English Bay

English Bay Beach VancouverTourism Vancouver/ Clayton Perry

This is right downtown, letting you go from a lazy beach afternoon to a fun evening just a few steps away. As you would expect, the beach is usually crowded, but as many people drift between the shops and the beach, spots open up quickly. Even on a cool day, many people spend time at English Bay enjoying the view of the mountains and the beaches across the bay.

This is another of the beaches that are great for swimming; the water is calm in the bay and fractionally warmer than other beaches. Lifeguards are on duty in season and you’ll find kayak rentals, volleyball courts and a swimming raft. A beach wheelchair is kept here (call to reserve) and plenty of beach-friendly restaurants are just across the road.

van 6Creativecommons.org/in transition

This is downtown and almost all the parking is pay only – and difficult to find - but you can get there using the city bus. It’s one of the best spots for watching the fireworks during the Celebration of Light International Fireworks Competition in July/August, and also the place to take part in the famous Vancouver Polar Bear Swim on New Year’s Day.

 

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