Vancouver Outdoors

English Bay Beach
English Bay Beach

In general, the waters of British Columbia are cold. For most of the year, beaches in Vancouver are best suited to walking, biking, and sunbathing. But, surprisingly, the city does have some good summer swimming, thanks to the shallow shelf that extends along the shore from the West End out toward Point Grey. The water on this shelf can reach 21 C (70F) in the warmest months.

The beaches that border the shelf are, naturally, the most popular: English Bay, Kitsilano, Jericho, Locamo, and Point Grey Beaches, taking them from east to west, and generally in the order of their popularity. The sand here's been trucked in from somewhere else, but it's made itself at home, and in many places huge driftwood logs, ghosts of the old-growth forests that used to cover this land, form natural windbreaks and perching spots.

The beaches on English Bay are very civilized, patrolled by lifeguards from June through August, with restrooms, changing areas, and cold showers for rinsing off the salt-spray. Some, like Kitsilano Beach, even have their own swimming pools (the one at Kits is saltwater!). From March to October, you will find sun worshippers working on their tans. For hardy optiminsts, the sun tanning season starts as early as February.

Further to the west, out by the University of British Columbia, are the natural cobble and rock beaches, a brisk hike down the paths that straggle into the woods off Marine Drive. This is where you'll find Vancouver's clothing-optional beaches, including well-known Wreck Beach. The water's a bit cooler out here, but the setting is superb: you look out over the Strait of Georgia to the mountains of Vancouver Island. You can walk to these rough beaches from the tamer ones just by walking along the beach, but don't expect to walk back at high tide.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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