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Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver, Canada
Photograph: Shutterstock.comSea walk at the Kitsilano Beach Park at Downtown of Vancouver, Canada.

The 12 best beaches in Vancouver

Sun, sea, sand and serenity await at the best beaches in Vancouver. This is British Columbia at its very best

Written by
Mikaela Luke
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Yes, international readers, that title is correct. Vancouver might be one of the biggest cities in Canada, but don’t let the city’s reputation for urban architecture distract you from the excellent beaches it has to offer. Vancouverism may have taken the architectural world by storm, but nature remains king here. What else would you expect from a city delicately nestled between the water and the mountains? The best thing to do in Vancouver? Be outside, in short.

Vancouver’s summers are all mild temperatures and gorgeous scenery, but the short summer window doesn’t give too much time for the beaches. Nobody takes a beach day for granted as a result, and the best beaches in Vancouver can get mighty busy during the warmer days. Of course, the ever-present Canadian contradiction means that they can just as easily be completely deserted, and you might find yourself thanking your lucky stars to have landed in your own slice of heaven. A day at the beach followed by a night on the town? Welcome to Vancouver.

The best beaches in Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver flows right into this small oasis of a beachfront, making it the perfect stretch of sand for midday work walks and post-cocktail evening strolls. With only a rollerskate, pedestrian and bike-friendly boardwalk known as the Seawall separating the concrete jungle from the sand, this beach also features some popular spots for waterfront dinners with a view of the English Bay.

More of a waterfront park than a beach, Deep Cove is the local hike and kayak spot. Drive over the Lions Gate Bridge up to North Vancouver to find this hidden cove of the Burrard Inlet, and enjoy the calm waters as you kayak between two woodsy shores of the Indian Arm. If you’re not looking to get on the waters, hike up Quarry Rock instead for a jaw-dropping lookout point.

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True to its name, this is the spot for iconic Vancouver sunsets, with the yachts of Vanier Park just across the water and the beautiful Burrard Bridge looming overhead. Located just past English Bay Beach along the Seawall, the sister beaches are separated by a majestic Inukshuk statue—visitors often make their own renditions of the statue out of sand and leave them at the base. You can also access this beach via a tiny ferry from Granville Island, Yaletown, or Vanier Park to experience the sparkling waters yourself.

Belcarra Regional Park
Photograph: Flickr/Brian Chow

Belcarra Regional Park

Located just opposite the Deep Cove, Belcarra’s shorelines offer plenty to do, whether you arrive by land or sea. Driving through Belcarra Regional Park means you can stop and challenge yourself to any of its moderate-to-rigorous hikes in the misty woods before rewarding yourself with the waterfront view. Bring your crab traps for crabbing on the dock, or just go seastar and jellyfish seeking along the pebbly shore.

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Stroll or bike along the Arbutus Greenway (a reinvented railway corridor) through the city, and at the end, you’ll find yourself at a pot of gold: Kitsilano Beach. One of the most popular hangout spots for locals, Kits Beach offers volleyball nets, basketball courts, and the longest outdoor, saltwater swimming pool in Canada. The relaxed, radiant atmosphere of the hippy-trendy neighbourhood is also the birthplace of Lululemon Athletica (located right next to the Molson Coors brewery). 

Another local favourite, Wreck Beach is the largest naturist beach in North America at almost five miles long. Though you don’t have to go in the nude, the beach is famous for its natural beauty and secluded landscape, which may just inspire you to skinny-dip. 

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Surrounded by the grand forestry of Stanley Park and more secluded than the other bustling beaches of the downtown peninsula, Third Beach offers clear, swimmable waters and a view of the mountains just across. Stumble across this surprise as you bike the Seawall, or plan your visit around a woodsy hike and an afternoon at the Teahouse. Just be warned: clothing is optional.

There are two reasons to opt for a beach outside of the downtown center; tranquillity and the view of the city skyline. The view from Jericho Beach, a shady alcove located right by a sailing club, is what draws families and visitors across the city to this tree-lined, secluded beach spot. You'll see downtown and the North Shore mountains just beyond, and make sure to watch out for rabbits, otters, and of course, the friendly neighbourhood Fidos all hanging out by the sandy waters. 

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Looking for a beach party spot? Spanish Banks is blessed with eight beach volleyball courts, widespread picnic areas and a location far from the crowds of downtown or Kits. Grassy areas make this beach perfect for barbecuing (bring your own grill), and music is always being cranked up on the East end. At low tide, the sandy banks go out for miles, making for an adventurous walk out to the water with tide pools galore. Also, this beach has one of the biggest off-leash dog parks in the city so feel free to let the pups have their bit of fun too.

This lesser-known sandy stretch between Jericho and Spanish Banks is Vancouver’s designated quiet beach. With no amplified sound permitted in the area, this spot is the go-to for romantic walks on the beach or small picnics with friends. Comb the beach for all sorts of shells (and sea stars!), take a sunny nap, and then hop in for a dip in the sea to wrap up a hassle-free beach day. Weather a bit on the breezier side? Go wind-surfing or fly a kite instead.

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Though technically outside of Vancouver, the beachside views of this enormous (and gorgeous) lake make it well worth the drive. Grab your biggest floaty, rent a paddleboard, and make a day out of exploring and relaxing by the shores of this tree-lined lake, which is a popular summer destination for visitors and local families alike. With lavender farms nearby and local fruit stands galore, the drive up through Chilliwack has plenty to offer along the way. Got kids? Cultus Lake Waterpark is the biggest in the province.

Located only a half hour’s drive from the U.S. border, this rocky beach is perfect for a stroll and sunset to bookend a trip in or out of Vancouver. With ice cream shops and coffee bars nearby, collectible (and skippable!) smooth pebbles, and free parking, this beach hits all the marks for a seaside sunset stop. 

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