Whether you’re looking for a stretch of sand to spread out and relax with a good book, an outdoor court to spike a volleyball, or a catwalk to strut your stuff, Vancouver’s got it. You’ll easily find a beach everywhere you turn.
The following is a list of some of the best beaches in the city.
If Vancouver is “Hollywood North,” then Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach – or “Kits Beach” to the locals – is our Venice Beach. Buff and bronzed bodies are sure to make their rounds but don’t be wary, you’re sure to fit in somewhere amidst the mix of joggers, stroller-pushing families, sun-worshippers, and everyday loungers. Grassy patches above the tide line are perfect for tossing the disc, the tennis courts are always popular, and the beach attracts volleyball players from all over the city. And don’t forget Kits Pool where kids and adults can splash away the day in an outdoor, heated salt-water pool with a wrap-around view of the city, ocean, and mountains. It’s almost three times the size of an Olympic pool.
When all the elements are right, fishing and a picnic at the Jericho Beach pier makes for a perfect evening. Enjoy the long, sandy stretch with stunning views of the North Shore Mountains and downtown core. It’s also a great spot for sailing, windsurfing, sea kayaking, and beach volleyball.
To commemorate the discovery of the Spanish explorers in 1792, the British named this particular shore Spanish Banks. The least crowded of Vancouver’s beaches, this stretch of sand is a wonderful retreat for those who wish to escape from the pace of city life. Skimmers alert: this is the perfect place for skim boarding once you learn the optimal tidal conditions.
West End Beaches
The southern edge of the West End neighbourhood has two of the most attractive waterfront urban environments – English Bay and Sunset Beach. Amazingly, this large stretch of sand is no more than a 30-minute walk from Sandman Hotel Vancouver City Centre and an easy 10-minute walk from Sandman Suites Vancouver Davie – Street, with no commercial exploitation intruding on the peaceful environment. In summer, English Bay becomes a jumping off point for rollerblading adventures, strolling for ice cream, and picnics. Kids will love the floating slide and parents will appreciate the full time lifeguard. It’s also the place to lay down your blanket and look up to the sky during the Honda Celebration of Light international fireworks competition (2014 dates: July 26th, 30th & August 2nd)
Second & Third Beaches
Second Beach is a quick stroll north from English Bay into Stanley Park. Like Kitsilano Beach, Second Beach also has an immense, heated outdoor pool. Further along the seawall lies secluded Third Beach, which is due north of Stanley Park Drive. Locals tote grills and coolers to this spot, a popular place for summer evening barbecues and sunset watching.
This six-kilometre long, secluded beach is Canada’s first and largest, legal, clothing-optional beach. It’s located at the western tip of Vancouver, adjacent to the University of British Columbia campus, down a long flight of steep stairs. On a summer weekend, as many as 14,000 visitors flock to the beach which stretches from the Musqueam Reserve to Spanish Banks West. Vendors Row, located down the middle of the beach below Trail 6, offers snacks and refreshments. Note: Wreck Beach enthusiasts are a loyal and protective bunch who take their right to “bare” arms, legs and everything else pretty seriously.
Why Waste Time at the Beach?
Research shows that the sound of waves alters wave patterns in the brain lulling you into a deeply relaxed state. Relaxing in this way can help rejuvenate the mind and body.
Also, floating in water means blood is diverted around from our lower limbs and pumped towards our abdominal region – the part of the body near the heart – because we are no longer standing upright. Fresh blood being pumped around the body brings more oxygen to our brain which makes us more alert and active.
Fresh air for sleep
If you’ve ever wondered why we always sleep more soundly after spending the day on the beach, it’s because of the sea air. Sea air is charged with healthy negative ions that accelerate our ability to absorb oxygen. Negative ions also balance levels of seratonin, a body chemical linked with mood and stress. Which is why after a holiday you feel more alert, relaxed, and energized.
So next time you’re looking for an excuse to spend the day at the beach, the real question is, “Which beautiful Vancouver beach?”