You’d be surprised to see the incredible collection of beaches around Vancouver. After having explored the region, we are happy to offer ourselves a little fun on these beaches-even if in winter the average temperature rises painfully to 8° C-and to rub shoulders with the locals who have developed a true art of living there. Walking along the beach, swimming and water sports but also nature observation and tasting of ice cream or seafood are part of the program.
Ambleside is situated in West Vancouver on the north shore of Burrard. It offers beautiful views of the Lions Gate Bridge and the tall forests of Stanley Park. Here the waves sometimes allow you to practice surfing, but do not expect the Hawaiian rolls. And then there are all the possible sports fields, from volleyball to soccer to basketball and even skateboarding. For families, pack the bucket and shovel, even the kite, and watch out for loose dogs : Ambleside Beach is one of the few beaches where it is allowed.
If sport is not your thing, take a look at the recycled art gallery Ferry Building where you can stroll through the fashion boutiques from Bellevue to Dundarave Beach.
At Ferguson Point, this sandy beach is the most secluded of the three beaches in Stanley Park, protected from city noise by a thick curtain of trees. We appreciate the panorama from Kitsilano to West Vancouver, passing through Point Grey and Vancouver island.
No wonder the site was occupied by a coastal battery that protected access to the harbour during World War II. Today, we practice swimming, picnics, Frisbee or hula hoop competitions at will. It’s probably the best place in Vancouver to see the sunset.
Also belonging to the Stanley park, Second Beach bordering English Bay. Next to Stanley Park Drive and North Lagoon Drive is a long outdoor heated swimming pool right by the ocean: Second Beach Pool. You can also have a barbecue in Ceperley Meadow where in the summer there are open-air cinema sessions.
English Bay Beach
The nearest beach to downtown Vancouver, also known as First Beach, stretches along the well-named Beach Avenue on the southern edge of Stanley Park. With its skyscraper-dominated lawns, it is of course quite popular, especially with the joggers running out of breath on the Stanley Park Seawall (22 km), whose construction began in 1917 and was not completed until 1980. This long walk attracts walkers, joggers, skaters, cyclists and even fishermen, connecting the spectacular Convention Centre to Kitsilano Beach Park along the coast via Stanley Park.
English Bay Beach is equipped with a wheelchair with oversized tires to move more easily in the sand. It is possible (and prudent) to book in advance by phone. Attention nice for travelers with disabilities.
English Bay is the other beach in the West End. Larger and also close to the centre, it is relatively preserved. There are many ice merchants and toboggans but we are still quite far from the Croisette or the Promenade des Anglais ! It ends at the south under the easily recognizable piles of the Burrard Bridge, an art deco bridge from 1932 that allows us to pass the inlet of False Creek.
Sunset and English Bay are probably the two best sites to watch Celebration of Light, an off-shore fireworks competition in late July.
Bordering the south of English Bay, it sometimes bears the nicknames “Kits Beach” or “Hollywood North” for its bohemian atmosphere reminiscent of Venice Beach in Los Angeles. The families live side by side with bodybuilders with a well-balanced Tan, volleyball players, mountain bikers or joggers.
Kitsilano Beach has a large outdoor swimming pool, Kits Pool, 137 m long. we enjoyed enjoying the sun on the heated deck of the restaurant. It’s much quieter during the week and in the middle of winter, of course.…
A few kilometers west of Kitsilano Beach, this beach offers a feeling of isolation. The eastern part is rather occupied by bathers, the West being reserved for sailboats and other windsurfers. But we also found kayakers and over and over again, tireless volleyball players !
On the beach discovered at low tide, crab fishermen actively pursued Dungeness crabs, one of the most common species of the 35 listed in British Columbia. A fisherman tells us that the males reach more than 21 cm in diameter and the females 16.
Locarno Beach and Spanish Banks Beach
Immediately to the West, Locarno Beach, a nice piece of sand with large fir trees, then Spanish Banks Beach cut into three sections. The low tide is now at its peak and the surf is one kilometer away ! It was named after the Spanish navigators who first explored the area around 1792.
We see quite a few skimboarders, a cousin of the surfer practicing on the water film withdrawing from the beach at each wave, throwing themselves into crazy arabesques that often end in a spectacular fall and great bursts of laughter.
Wreckage Beach (wreck) is Canada’s first and largest naturist beach, six kilometres long. A sign indicates “clothing optional”, meaning “clothing optional”.
The place is beautiful and very evocative with its long shore strewn with driftwood stranded. Across the street is Nanaimo, the harbour in the centre of Vancouver Island. We are suddenly very far from the city, a virginal site so much so that we will not see a single Adam or Eve on the horizon. It must be said that the wind discourages a little bit and the candidates for the striptease…
Much further south beyond the airport, these beaches are all close to the American border. Crescent Beach is the beach of Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver on Boundary Bay south of the Fraser River estuary. From Blackie Spit Park, you can see the skyscrapers in central Vancouver and the North Shore Mountains in the distance. CB is best known to the locals who gave him this affectionate diminutive.