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