6 beaches near Vancouver: Where to go for sun, sand, and surf

Published by: BouncePosted Updated
Best beaches near Vancouver

As the biggest city on Canada's West Coast, Vancouver has tons of beaches right on its doorstep. And although Vancouver is not generally thought of as a beach destination - after all, this is a city that gets 2350 mm of rainfall in an average year - the beaches of the city make phenomenal places to relax and take in what Vancouver is known for: its incredible scenery. Surrounded by beautiful snowcapped mountains, Vancouver offers gorgeous views whichever way you look, and spending some time on the beach is a great way to relax and unwind in what is an increasingly hectic and fast-paced city.

One of the best things about Vancouver is that although it is a large and vibrant city, you're never far from nature. That's as true of the best beaches in Vancouver as it is of the beautiful forests and mountains that surround the city. Whether you're arriving in Vancouver via Vancouver International Airport or through the cruise ship terminal, you won't have to travel far to explore the natural riches British Columbia is famous for.

Vancouver summers can be hot, but they are often all too brief. When the temperature starts to climb, locals head to the many beaches in the city to enjoy the spectacular natural surroundings, and you should definitely consider joining them. Vancouver's beaches are all free to visit, so all you need to do is find a good spot and take it all in.

But before you go enjoy Vancouver's best beaches, don't forget to leave your bags behind in a Bounce suitcase storage in the city. Bounce makes it easy to travel by looking after any size of bag for as long as you need until you're ready to pick them up again, so you only need to bring the essentials to Vancouver's beaches.

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English Bay Beach in the West End

English Bay Beach

With a stunning location just to the south of downtown Vancouver and offering glimpses of the mountains of Vancouver Island on a clear day, English Bay Beach is undoubtedly scenic. But it's also one of the main beaches in Vancouver and easily one of the busiest. This is a place to come during the summer if you want to enjoy the lively atmosphere and have easy access to downtown while spending time on the beach. However, on the cooler days of fall and winter, you may be surprised by how deserted this beach is.

Travel distance from Vancouver

English Bay Beach lies at the southern end of downtown Vancouver, and you can walk here from the center of the city if you like. It's also easy to reach by public transit, with bus route 005 bringing you here from busy Robson Street.

Activity recommendations

Swimming: It's important to remember that Vancouver's beaches are on the Pacific Ocean, not the Caribbean Sea. Even in the height of summer, the water doesn't get much above 12°C or 52°F, which really isn't warm enough for swimming unless you're wearing a wetsuit. However, there are few better ways to cool off on a hot day than taking a plunge. English Bay Beach and neighboring Sunset Beach slope gently into the water, and like most Vancouver beaches, there are usually next to no waves here, making it a wonderful place to swim. There are public toilets and change rooms you can use to make the most of the water here.

Food: English Bay Beach sits at the intersection of two of downtown Vancouver's liveliest streets, Denman and Davie. You'll find tons of restaurants offering cuisine from around the world along both streets, from local fresh-caught seafood to haute cuisine to cheap and cheerful Chinese street food. Whatever you like to eat, you'll find it in this neighborhood, and you can dine in some of the best restaurants in Vancouver or take your dinner to the beach and enjoy the glorious sunset English Bay Beach is famous for.

Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver

Kitsilano Beach

Known as Kits Beach to locals, this sandy beach is one of the places to see and be seen in the summer months. The residential neighborhood of Kitsilano, where Kitsilano Beach is located, was once the epicenter of the hippie lifestyle in Vancouver, but the hippies are all now real estate millionaires. Still, Kits Beach offers a delightful neighborhood vibe and stunning views of the North Shore mountains from its huge and inviting stretch of sand.

Travel distance from Vancouver

Kitsilano Beach lies across the waters of False Creek from downtown Vancouver, but it's only three kilometers away. You can drive here in a couple of minutes or take bus route 002 from Burrard Street Station to easily reach one of the best beaches in Vancouver from downtown.

Activity recommendations

Kitsilano Pool: A local landmark of Kitsilano Beach, this saltwater pool offers the perfect place to swim if the ocean water is a little too cool for you. The open-air pool means you can drink in the magnificent views from the beach just as you would if you were in the ocean, but stay a lot warmer while doing it.

Sports: Attracting a young crowd, Kitsilano Beach is a fantastic place to stay active. You can play beach volleyball or soccer on the beach courts or rent a paddleboard or kayak to explore the water. There are also tennis and basketball courts where you can burn off some energy and a paved trail along the beach that makes a great place to run.

Stanley Park beach

Stanley Park beaches

Offering 1000 acres of forest on the edge of downtown Vancouver itself, Stanley Park is one of Vancouver's top tourist attractions. Walk the nine-kilometer seawall around the park, and you'll discover a variety of gorgeous beaches to spend some time in nature.

Travel distance from Vancouver

Stanley Park lies right on the edge of downtown Vancouver, and it's possible to get here on foot. Another option is to rent a bike or rollerblades, as the Seawall has a designated path for bikes. Several bus routes also journey through Stanley Park, or you can take a ride on a horse-drawn wagon to reach these incredible beaches.

Activity recommendations

Third Beach: The best beaches in Stanley Park are located on its west side, overlooking English Bay. Third Beach is the most northerly of these beaches, and although it's small, this quiet beach is the ideal place to immerse yourself in nature. Tall trees surround this small stretch of sand and driftwood, and the sunset views from here are incredible. Visit Third Beach any time outside of a summer weekend, and you may have the place almost to yourself.

Second Beach: Heading back along the edge of Stanley Park toward downtown Vancouver, you'll encounter Second Beach. Although it's smaller even than Third Beach, it's just as beautiful and is known for Second Beach Pool, an outdoor swimming pool where you can keep warm while swimming and still enjoy the same incredible views of the best beaches in Vancouver.

Stanley Park: Of course, we can't talk about the beaches in Stanley Park without discussing the park itself. During the summer, the Seawall is crowded with both locals and tourists enjoying a long walk and the beautiful scenery that comes with it. But even in the height of summer, you can take a trail deeper into the woods and leave the crowds behind. Stepping out of the shadow of the trees to see the beautiful beaches laid out before you is one of the best ways to get a sense of what makes Vancouver so special.

Windsurfing at Jericho Beach

Jericho Beach

Located to the west of Kits Beach, Jericho Beach offers the same beautiful views of the mountains of North and West Vancouver. This famous beach is extremely popular, but the wide stretch of sand means you shouldn't have too much trouble snagging a spot, especially if you get here early. Besides, it's worth it for all the things that are to do here.

Travel distance from Vancouver

A drive of around 10 minutes is enough to get you to Jericho Beach from downtown Vancouver. You can also get here on bus route 44.

Activity recommendations

Jericho Sailing Centre: Vancouver's main sailing center, this Jericho Beach institution is the ideal place to come for kinds of aquatic activities. You can rent kayaks, canoes, or standup paddle boards or learn the basics of sailing here. There are also kayak tours that will explain more about the natural environment of the beach and a restaurant with a patio over the water that offers possibly one of the best views of any dining room in the city.

Jericho Beach Park: Located just behind Jericho Beach itself, this large urban park offers tons of hiking trails, a lake, and a popular disc golf course. It's a great place to get some exercise while still enjoying the incredible views this part of the city offers.

Wreck Beach near UBC

Wreck Beach

Something of a local legend, Wreck Beach is Vancouver's main clothing-optional beach. Located on the western edge of the city close to the University of British Columbia, Wreck Beach is one of the best places in the city to come if you want the feeling of being somewhere remote without actually going too far. Accessible by a long flight of stairs that lead through the forest, this beach feels totally cut off from civilization. As a result, it has become known for its anarchic and countercultural vibe, so bring an open mind while visiting here.

Travel distance from Vancouver

It takes a drive of around 15 minutes to reach Wreck Beach from downtown Vancouver, although traffic can often make this far longer. You can also get most of the way on bus route 84, then take the trail through the woods to reach the beach.

Activity recommendations

Sunbathing: Going naked on the beach isn't for everyone, but on Wreck Beach, you'll stand out more if you are wearing clothes than if you aren't. The perfect place to even out those tan lines, Wreck Beach is the best place in the city to let it all hang out and participate in the free-spirited atmosphere. Just don't forget the sunscreen.

Hiking: Surrounded by the beautiful University Endowment Lands and with Pacific Spirit Regional Park not far away, Wreck Beach offers almost limitless hiking trails to explore. Clothing may be optional on the beach, but hiking boots are very much required to explore these rugged trails through pristine forests.

Spanish Banks Beach in Vancouver

Spanish Banks

Located close to Jericho Beach, Spanish Banks Beach offers the same beautiful views as that iconic destination. At low tide, this beach is more than one kilometer wide, so it's a popular place for kite flying, walking, and other activities that make the most of the tidal flats.

Travel distance from Vancouver

Only around a 10-minute drive from downtown Vancouver, you can reach Spanish Banks on trusty bus route 44.

Activity recommendations

Skimboarding: The tidal flats here make Spanish Banks Beach a great location for skimboarding. Rent a board from a local business and play at the water's edge when the tide is out.

Barbecues: Most of Vancouver's beaches have some fairly strict rules to make sure everyone can enjoy them. That includes no alcohol on city beaches, no amplified music, and no barbecues. However, Spanish Banks Beach has more relaxed rules, making it a fantastic place for a beach barbecue with friends.


The many beaches in Vancouver offer some of the best things to do in the city. And given how expensive Vancouver can be, these beaches offer great free activities if you're exploring Vancouver on a budget.

You can reach tons of amazing beaches without leaving the city. However, the coastline of British Columbia is packed with excellent beaches, including Vancouver Island, which makes an ideal destination for weekend trips from the city. Still, if you're looking to enjoy the beach life without leaving Vancouver itself, you're in luck. These incredible beaches let you enjoy the sun, sand, and sea without going too far.

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