We are so lucky to live in Vancouver. Obviously I love the North Shore Mountains, but in addition to that the city has some fantastic beaches. In February before the world went into lock-down, Marc and I had one of those perfect weekends when we spent one day in the mountains skiing, as well as one day walking along Vancouver’s beaches from Kitsilano all the way out to the end of Point Grey at the University of British Columbia (UBC). It was cold, but sunny and perfect for a long walk. I took photos as we walked, so I figured I should introduce the beaches of Vancouver.
In the first days of the lock-down, news reports have been saying that the most popular beaches like Kisilano beach have all been crazily busy. I’d like to share this virtual walk along the Vancouver coastline, just please don’t rush out to visit at the moment, as we’re all practicing social distancing.
Vancouver seaside walking Map
My Vancouver seaside walk – the basics:
Distance: 16.5 km (if you walk the whole way from science world)
Elevation Gain: Minimal, until you get to UBC, where you gain 85m
Time: We walked for 4.5 hours, but you can easily shorten or lengthen it.
What to bring:
It would be helpful to bring a towel in case you want to paddle. We didn’t, so we used Marc’s shirt to dry our feet!
Dogs are meant to be on leashes most of the time, but there are a couple of off-leash beaches along the way.
How hard is it?
It’s flat, so pretty easy. Plus you can easily shorten it and catch a bus home at any point along the trail. Just head South to find streets with buses.
Point Grey is the name of the peninsula south of downtown Vancouver that sticks out West into the Burrard Inlet. We love walking the entire edge of it. I’ll introduce the beaches along that walk from east to west.
Kits beach is probably the most famous of the local Vancouver beaches. It is where the most people hang out as it has tennis courts, volley ball courts, a kids playground and a grassy park that is great for picnics. If you want to swim, there are life guards here in the summertime, and there is also a large pool right by the sea.
Doggy notes: If you head to the North of Kits beach, there is an area where dogs can frolic in the sea off leash – Hadden Park Dog Beach.
I love the views from the end of Kitsilano beach, by the pool. You can look back at Stanley Park, Vancouver’s high rises as well as the North Shore Mountains. The tide is not normally out as far as this, but isn’t it gorgeous?
There is a pathway along the beach (next to the pool) that leads along the coast past the Kisilano yacht club. After that you normally need to head up some steps to walk along Point Grey Road, past a series of parks (with great views out to sea.)
Coastline below Point Grey Road
This section of the walk is normally under water, but if you visit when the tide is a long way out, you can walk along the rocky coastline behind houses with the best sea-views in Vancouver. If you walk along this area just be really careful. The seaweed can make the rocks very slippery.
Most of the cliffs have been covered with concrete to shore up people’s homes, but a few of them have now added beach-style street art. I quite liked seeing these sockeye salmon.
The next beach along, Jericho beach starts after the Royal Vancouver Yacht club. I really like this beach. It is small, but nice and sandy and has fantastic views. There are lifeguards here in the summer if you’d like to swim.
The next beach, Locarno beach is a designated quiet spot. You’re not allowed to have any amplified sound/music here. It still has gorgeous views and lifeguards in the summer, but it always seems a little more relaxed than the beaches closer to the city center.
As you can see Vancouver gets a little smaller as we get further and further away from the city.
Spanish Banks Beach
Spanish Banks is a massive sandy beach that when the tide goes out, becomes a giant mirror/sandy area that you can walk over. The last time we did this walk was in February…but we couldn’t resist taking off our shoes to walk out onto the sand bank. It was freezing! I may have made some pretty high-pitched squeaks when my toes touched the Pacific!
These are the faces of crazy people who will dunk their feet in the ocean one day, then go skiing the following day. There is still plenty of snow on the mountains behind us!
The views back to Vancouver are pretty amazing from out on the Spanish Banks. Just be careful when you are out here. When the tide turns and comes back in, it can be pretty fast. We always head back to the shore as soon as we notice the tidal streams filling back up.
I have to post a photo to prove I got my feet wet. The great thing about photos (rather than video) is that I look pretty sensible when you can’t hear me scream/squeal.
There are some good big rocks n the west side of the Spanish Banks, so you can sit on them to dry your feet. West of there the beaches become rocky, rather than sandy. So you need to be more careful watching your steps.
Doggy notes: There is a off-leash dog area to to the west of Spanish Banks. We saw quite a few happy doggos lolloping around.
Arcadia beach is one of the last spots with great views of Vancouver. Beyond this, the views are better over to the North Shore Mountains and West Van. It’s also the start of the foreshore trail that follows the coastline around to Wreak beach (the nudest beach) at UBC.
The first time we did this walk was in the summer time, and there were a few people sunbathing nude in this area. We didn’t see any undressed people in February, so if the idea of naked folks puts you off this walk, it might be best to explore this area in winter!
The next easy to spot landmarks are the graffiti covered towers either side of Tower beach.
These are WWII Coast Artillery Search Light Posts that guard the edge of Point Grey. The art seems to change every time we visit. I quite like the Bowser that is one of the newer additions.
If you keep walking around the Point Grey peninsular you’ll get to the beautiful, sandy Wreck beach. We arrived just as the sun was setting. I really like watching the sky turn pink from here.
If you’re visiting for beaches (rather than walks) Wreck Beach is 8km long, so it is North America’s largest nudist beach. It is right below UBC, and has great transport links, so is always very busy in the summer time. Clothing is optional, so you don’t have to go naked. Just don’t take photos unless you have people’s permission first.
Hopefully the virus madness will be over soon-ish so we’ll be able to go back and enjoy the gorgeous beaches of Vancouver again. For now, I’ll leave you with a few panoramas from our walk.
Vancouver Beaches Panoramas
If you like the look of Vancouver’s beaches, click the images below to pin them for later.