Walk the whole Vancouver Seawall

Walk the whole Vancouver Seawall

Did you know Vancouver has the world longest uninterrupted waterfront pathway, the Vancouver Seawall? It is a great place to stretch your legs or go for a picturesque cycle around the city. If you are new to Van City this is a great introduction to the area as it goes past sooo many of the main sights.

If you fancy a mini challenge it is totally possible to hike the entire route in a single day, or even half a day if you are a speedy walker. We started this walk on a Sunday after lunch, and still finished long before dark.

The Entire Vancouver Seawall Map

Walk the whole Seawall – the basics

Distance: 25.6 km
(maybe more to get to the start! We ended up walking 40km that day) 
Elevation gain
: Minimal.
Time: It took us 5 hours (at a brisk pace, but not rushing)
What to bring:
You can fill up water bottles in several places, and there are several places to buy food along the way. It’s not the wilderness, so you don’t need the ten essentials.
Sunscreen, waterproof coat (this is Vancouver) and comfy shoes are all you need.
Facilities:
There are loos at the totem poles, by the children’s play area halfway to the Lionsgate Bridge, at third beach, at the second beach pool, at English Bay, at sunset beach, at Granville island, just after Burrard bridge, and at Kits beach.
Dogs:
Dog friendly trail, with a few areas they can run off leash.
How hard is it?
Super easy if you do it in sections. It’s not hard even if you do the whole thing at once BUT it will tire out your legs if you’re not used to walking 25 km+ in one day.

The Vancouver Seawall is the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path (according to the Vancouver City website). It stretches along 25-28 km (depending which website you trust) along the coastline as an uninterrupted pathway. This Seawall includes the Stanley Park Seawall, but it is so much more than that!

Walk the Vancouver Seawall – getting started

The Vancouver Seawall starts at Canada Place. This is where cruise ships park, next to the Vancouver Convention Center. From there, the path curls around Coal Harbour. You will walk past the Float plane docks. So if you are lucky, you may see several mini airplanes take off or land on the water as you walk past. Also, watch out for the cool house boats in Coal Harbour.

Coal Harbour

At the far end of Coal Harbour, where the trail meets Stanley Park, look in the water as we have seen harbour seals here a few times. Then just keep following the Seawall around past Vancouver Rowing Club towards the totem poles.

Stanley Park Seawall

This is the most famous section of the Seawall. It continues in a loop, the whole way around Stanley Park with city views, mountains views and gorgeous sea views. This is the view back to Canada Place those white (sail-like) spikes, where we started the walk.

Nine O’Clock Gun

There are a few cool sights to look out for as you walk around Stanley Park. The first is this cannon; the nine o’clock gun. This cannon has been fired at 9 o’clock (almost) every night for a century. They changed the time to 7 o’clock during the covid-19 pandemic to show support for essential workers…but it is back to 9 o’clock now.

In 1969 the gun was kidnapped by an engineering society from UBC. You can read about that madness here.

Brockton Point Lighthouse

Next, you will go past the red and white stripy lighthouse at Brockton Point. This was built in 1914, and has a tunnel underneath; So the Seawall pathway goes right through it.

Totem Poles

Take a teeny detour to visit the Totem Poles. It’s not part of the Seawall, but it’s only a few extra steps. There are 9 totem poles carved by First Nations from various remote areas in BC.

Girl in a Wetsuit

Next, watch out for a life size bronze sculpture of a girl in a wetsuit. I have to admit, I thought she was a mermaid for a while. Until I looked closely. She was created by Elek Imredy in 1972. Quite often there are seagulls sitting on her head.

The Lions Gate Bridge

I love the sext section of the trail, as you will be treated to fantastic views of Crown Mountain (and the other North Shore Mountains) as you walk under the Lions Gate Bridge. This bridge connects Van City with North Van, so this is the view we get early in the morning when we drive to the North Shore, or to Squamish or Whistler.

Skalsh/ Siwash Rock

This iconic rocky outcrop is one of the most famous sights along the Stanley Park coastline. It was created by lava that was forced up between the sandstone and mudstone, creating this basalt outcrop.

Slhx̱í7lsh (Skalsh) Rock means “standing man,” in the Squamish language and hopefully one day that will be the official name of this rock. At the moment it’s still called Siwash Rock on maps. The current name is a Chinook word derived from the French word for savage; Sauvage. That is pretty disrespectful to First Nations people so lots of people are keen to change it.

The Squamish Nation story behind this rock formation is about a new father (and Chief) called Sklash who was transformed into the rock by gods for his bravery. Sklash was swimming in the Burrard Narrows to purify himself; It was a custom for the sake of his family right before his new child was born. Gods told him to move out of the way of their holy canoe, but he refused (as he wanted to complete his purifying ritual for the sake of his family.) In the end, the gods were impressed at his commitment to his family, so they turned him to stone as he swam back to them at dawn.

Read a better explanation of the story here, or more of the other legends of Vancouver here.

As you continue to walk around Stanley Park, there are plenty of pretty views and beaches along the way.

Third Beach

Third Beach is normally the busiest beach in Stanley Park. There are lifeguards here in the summer if you want to stop for a swim, as well as concessions and a toilets. If you come past here on sunny Tuesday evenings, there are often drumming circles with hundreds of people dancing and drumming.

Amazing trees

There are loads of gorgeous old growth trees in Stanley Park. The best ones are further in the center of the park (if you fancy exploring on a different mini adventure.) However you’ll see some amazing trees towering above the Seawall too.

Once you leave Stanley Park keep following the Seawall along more beaches.

Inukshuk

When you reach the end of English Bay there is a huuuge inukshuk. Inukshuks are used to mark a place for navigation or important locations by Inuit people in northern Canada. This monument was commissioned by the Government of the Northwest Territories for Expo 86, then  given to the City of Vancouver. It was made by Alvin Kanak, from Rankin Inlet.

Plenty of beaches

I love walking along next to all the beaches in this part of Vancouver as there are sooo many happy doggies! This photo is looking back from Sunset Beach, about half way along the walk. The opposite side of False Creek is Vanier Park. You’ll reach that part of the Seawall in 10km.

False Creek Seawall

The next 9km of the Seawall is built up along the edge of the city. There are parks lining the trail, but no more sandy beaches for a while.

I like the city views as you walk under Burrard Bridge (above) and Granville Bridge (below.) There are views of the residential sky scrapers of Yaletown, as well as the waterside edge of Graville Island across the water.

There are plenty of parks along beside the Seawall. I love David Lam Park in the springtime when all the trees are in bloom. There are always plenty of dog walkers and people having picnics along here.

The Proud Youth

This is one of the newest pieces of art along the Seawall; the Proud Youth by Chen Wenling. I first saw this when I was running along the Seawall, so I thought it looked like an exhausted athlete stopping for a breather… but if you look closely it has a super cheeky, smiley face.

Quayside Marina

Right before you reach Cambie Bridge you’ll walk along next to Quayside Marina. I love that you can take a peek at some of the posh boats moored here.

Olympic Village

This is the view of the end of False Creek, Olympic Village and Science World. Once you make it that far, you’ll have completed 2/3rds of the entire Seawall. Woot woot!

Habitat Island

Right after Olympic Village you’ll see Habitat Island. This is a man-made island, built up when the Olympics came to Vancouver in 2010. It is an urban sanctuary for nesting birds and small fishes. In the evening there are often people drinking there, but in the day it is a lovely spot.

If you need a rest, there is a lovely park (Hinge Park) to the rear of this mini island which is a good place to take a break. Plus, if you’re lucky, you might see the local Beaver.

Walk under Cambie Bridge for the second time. Watch out for the street art (there is a kitty and a heron on the bridge as well as a smiley face on one of the rocks nearby)

The next part of the Seawall wiggles quite a lot as it curves around the shoreline and marinas.

Granville Island

This is another one of the Vancouver’s main tourist hot spots. There is a market area and quite a few restaurants if you need to stop for food or drinks. The Seawall continues around the edge of the “island” so you can walk past all the cool house boats.

You’ll also get a peek at the awesome painted concrete murals by Os Gemeos up close (ish.)

The Seawall continues beyond Granville Island. It is normally a little less busy along this area. There is a great food stand (called Go Fish) serving fish and chips (or fish tacos) at Fisherman’s Wharf. Whenever we’ve ordered food there, we stop to eat it looking out at the pretty views from Creekside Park.

You’ll might be bored by now of all the fantastic harbour and city views. The water is often really calm between Granville and Burrard Bridges so great for reflections.

Kitsilano Beach

The next section is super busy. Kits Beach is always full of picnickers, volley ball players and friends relaxing or swimming. It also has fantastic views back to Stanley Park and the North Shore Mountains. Plus if you make it this far you have *almost* walked the entire Seawall!

The very last 600m of the Seawall continues beyond Kits Beach past Kitsilano Yacht Club to a small beach. From there you can look back at a large section of the route you just walked along. There is a cycle lane that continues further along this route to another few kilometers to Spanish Banks. However the actual Seawalls stops here.

We did it! We chose to walk the whole way along the Seawall in springtime so it wasn’t too hot. It is quite a long walk, but to be honest, as it is so flat, it’s not crazily hard. My legs were pretty tired by the time we’d walked home, as we walked a total of 40km. But if you took a taxi or bus, the actual Seawall was only around 26km.

We have done parts of this route many, many times. Still, it was a nice challenge to hike the entire route in a single day. If you want to see everything but don’t fancy 47,600 steps, this trail can work well as a cycle route too. Most of the way bikes have a separate lane to walkers, and it is all safe and off the main roads.

What do you think? If you visit Vancouver (or if you live here) do you like the idea of walking the whole way along the Seawall?

The Vancouver Sea Wall is a pretty, flat hike around the city with plenty of fantastic views Vancouver Sea Wall - A great way to get to know Van City You can walk the entire Vancouver Sea Wall in a single day
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44 thoughts on “Walk the whole Vancouver Seawall

    1. Thanks Tracey! We walked it on a whim (when we woke up too late to hike up in the mountains with the snow) but it took me longer than I expected to write it all up! 🙂 I am really relived if it is useful!

  1. I am in awe that you walked the whole thing (and then walked home!). I’m not sure I could do it as my knees ache too much after about 8 km of walking on paved paths. But it is such a good walk with so much to see!

    1. Yeah I am not sure I could have done it in hiking boots. We walked in trainers (so they have a bit of extra padding to cope with the paved paths…)

    1. Heh it sounds so much shorter in miles doesn’t it! 😂 It is such a pretty walk though, especially for being in the middle of the city!

  2. I’ve walked parts of the wall, but never the whole thing! Adding this to my Vancouver bucket list for next time I’m there, which will *hopefully* be soon now that I’m just a few weeks away from my 2nd vaccine dose! This Ontario girl has been missing BC.

    1. Ooh nice you are so close! We only got our first one two weeks ago, but it seems like travel within Canada will be okay super soon. 😀

  3. Fantastic photos. Such a lovely city. I’ve been there one time, a very long time ago. Seems like it’s really grown up a lot since.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  4. I can’t wait for the border to open, that looks like a wonderful time! Although for me that might be a couple of days. 🙂 I can tell you two are in better shape from your awesome hiking posts. Thanks, I’m pinning it for later.

  5. Looks like a lovely walk. I’ve been to Vancouver lots of times but never strolled along the sea wall. I can’t wait for the border to open so I can go check it out for myself!

  6. Josy, it’s been a while since I stopped by to catch up on your walks. You didn’t disappoint and still delivering wonderful posts to entice us to dream about travelling to Canada 🙂

  7. Oh my, I think we walked at the seawall for 10-15min when we went to see the totem poles a few years ago. And I had no idea how long it is and, most of all, what beautiful sites you can see there, like Siwash Rock. And, we were at Canada Place too, as our Alaska cruise started there.

  8. 40k? That’s a seriously long walk, you must have been a little tired after that but what a great day! We walked virtually all of it in many chunks when we were in Vancouver and absolutely loved the views and the changing scenery. Brings back wonderful memories. Vancouver is just stunning.

  9. It’s fun to see how the area changes as you make your way along the path, swapping between nature/urban. Seems sort of like a history walk as well; I’d be excited every time I came upon a new artifact or piece of art, to discover it’s origin and meaning! Seems like a great way to learn about the area/culture in an active way, instead of sitting on your butt watching a documentary or something. That’s one of my favorite things about walking/hiking in general, perfectly encapsulated here.

  10. Wow, I can’t believe how much there is to see here. I’m from Florida and I never have been able to get used to places where you can see the sea and mountains at the same time. (And I hope I never get used to it; I don’t want to take it for granted!) But the combination of natural and man-made sights based on your photos make me really want to visit this location.

  11. Very interesting fact about this being the longest uninterrupted waterfront path. I love how there’s many different views but yet it’s still the same place!

  12. Holy cow this is impressive! But I bet if the weather is nice and you have a good buddy to join you, it would go by quick. So many beautiful sights to see along the way!

  13. I love walking along the waterfront! This seems like a great walk with lots to see along the way…but also 26k is a lot!

  14. What a treasure we have with the Vancouver seawall. I never get tired of walking/cycling there. Great information and lovely pics—would make a perfect promo piece for beautiful Vancouver.

  15. Seriously, how is Vancouver this pretty?! I love urban hikes that offer easy access to incredible views!! Skalsh Rock is stunning.

  16. Wow! I had no idea about the Vancouver Seawall. I love that you included the sights to see – definitely saving for my next trip!

  17. Ive always wanted to visit Vancouver and now I can see why. Your images are beautiful. Granville Island sounds really cool, hopefully with a nice sail.

  18. I love this!! I walked a good portion of it (probably about 8 miles) but didn’t know how long it was!! What an awesome challenge. And the city is just stunning!!

  19. This is so incredible, I can’t believe I’m only learning about it for the first time right now! Nearly 26 km sounds very intense, I don’t know if I’d be able to do the whole thing in one day. But even if I had to break it into two days, it looks like there’s so much to see along the Vancouver Seawall that it would be worth doing the entire thing! I really like the Skalsh/Siwash Rock, and hopefully it gets the name change it deserves! I’d be sure to keep an eye out for some of the interesting statues and pieces of art along the way as well.

  20. What a beautiful coastal walk! I love that you can follow the route so far around! And the scenery is so varied throughout the trail! I especially love Brockton Point Lighthouse, it looks adorable! Thanks for the great guide!

  21. Yanno, of all the times I’ve been to Vancouver (mmm like 4 or 5 times now?), I’ve NEVER been to the seawall hahahha. Idk why not, it’s just never come up. I haven’t even been to Stanley Park, even though I feel like that’s on every Vancouver itinerary ever made hahah. I have been to Granville Island though, love all the shops and stuff there! Maybe one day I’ll get around to actually hitting the seawall…I had no idea there was so much to see!

    1. Lol I was thinking as I posted this, it would be your worst nightmare of a day! Soo much walking!

      I have a feeling you’d need to hire a bike to enjoy this one. 🤣

  22. I love this idea for getting some (a lot?) of exercise while you also see some of Vancouver’s most famous attractions! And it’s great that you can take a break at one of the beaches too. I don’t know that I’d be able to do 40 km in a day — I might need to take that bus or Uber lol.

  23. I’ve walked a lot of the sea wall but Not as much as you show here. Over 25km is long. I loved the time in Stanley park and the marina areas.

  24. I love that Vancouver is such a walking city. I walked part of the seawall when I was there last, but now that I see everything I missed, I’m going to make time on my next trip to do the whole thing. Thanks for the inspiration!

  25. That’s one serious walk, you could really get in a good day of exercise with this one. And with so many things to see, I think it’s amazing how Vancouver has such great aspects of both city life and nature. Didn’t realize you guys had beaches right in town, and those cherry blossom trees!!

  26. What a unique idea and fun way to see the city and ocean. Reminds me of when I kayaked around the island of Manhattan. It was such a unique perspective on the city. You saw so many cool things on your walkabout. There’s something novel about the challenge of doing the whole thing.

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