Last Sunday we decided to take a bus to Jericho beach and walk all along the beaches on the Spanish banks to Acadia beach, Tower beach and around to Wreck beach. The entire walk was only about 13km so it was a relaxing stroll, moving slowly further away from central Vancouver. The second half of the walk was along beaches where clothing was optional, so I took fewer photos than normal. Somehow a willy photo did make it into my camera so I’ve had to add a well-placed star to the image to make this post safe for work. 😉
We’d been as far as Jericho beach on a previous walk. Each time we have walked through there seems to be loads going on; Large picnics as well as lots of people kayaking, and paddle-boarding. The beach has a really good view of downtown Vancouver and Stanley Park.
We took off our shoes and paddled along the edge of the water. There are lots of spiky shells to dodge and the sand is pretty muddy, but it was still nice to get our toes wet. Afterwards we sat on some rocks waiting for our feet to dry and watching the kayaks swish past.
After walking past the Jericho sailing centre, we had our first look at the amazing Locarno beach and the Spanish Banks. Vancouver is slightly strange in that it only had one proper low tide each day. This is because Vancouver Island is so close to the mainland, that the narrow straits restrict the flow of water, skewing the heights of the tides. These beaches must normally have a very shallow area to swim in, as the sea had retreated for miiiiles at low tide! We took our shoes off again and explored around the squishy, muddy sand.
I love the way the seaweed looks like swirling mermaid hair in the shallow water. There were plenty of birds making the most of the low tide to collect shellfish, and quite a few VERY happy doggos splashing around in the puddles.
It took us a while to even walk out to the edge of the water! I tried to capture just how vast this beach was with a panorama. You can see Vancouver city to the right, then the far away mountain on the right is Mount Seymour, then along from that is Grouse Mountain. We haven’t explored the closer Cypress mountain area yet, but it is really good to see we have so many more places to walk(!)
We could walk out almost the whole way to the lighthouses. I tried to do a normal jumping photo, but Marc wanted me to make more of a splash, so I also attempted to do a frog-like jump photo. I look a little loopy, but it was great fun!
It is really strange to be able to walk so close to the massive oil tankers. They looked almost touchable, but it must be dangerous to attempt to swim out to them, as the water suddenly gets a lot deeper beyond this point! Looking back towards Kitsilano, we could see the sky reflected in the puddles. It all looks so much prettier with a hint of a blue sky!!
The tide turned. Although it hadn’t started to come back in yet, we thought on such a shallow camber it might come in quite quickly, so we started to walk inland to the Pacific Spirit National Park. Looking back, the sea had already started to make shallow horizontal channels along the beach. These were fun to paddle through, but it would be a little stressful if they were much deeper. I saw lots of shrimps swimming around and there was a some kind of fish that kept darting out of the sand towards Marc’s toes! It was so quick that we didn’t get to see what it was.
We sat at the edge of the beach to let our feet dry before we could put our shoes back on. Isn’t this an amazing view!? You can see central Vancouver, but it seems to be miiiiles away, rather than an easy 20 minute bus ride! Most people had not bothered to walk this far around so we had this end of the beach almost to ourselves.
We came off the beach and climbed up onto the headland to continue our walk. There is an easy path to follow through bright green trees with loads of orange and yellow butterflies fluttering around.
Next to the path we saw these fern-like plants. They looks sort of fluffy from far away, but when you get close they are like a collection of bright green daddy long legs! Please let me know if the comments if you know what they are!
We also found quite a few different types of berries. I *think* the first one, that looks like a raspberry with a collar, is a salmonberry. There was another similar shaped one called a thimbleberry, that was really tasty! The green-red berries in the middle are salal berries (according to the lovely Andy G who has given me loads of helpful advice about walking in Vacnouver). They aren’t ready to try yet as they need to turn black. I have no idea what the last red berries are, but as I didn’t know, I didn’t try them.
Once we were up on the headland, we had to follow the road for a little way, and the edge of the Marine Drive is covered in these gorgeous purple flowers. I have no idea what they are, but they grow really tall! Lots of them grew up far taller than me, so they must have been 2m high!
Quite soon we found the pathway back down to the beaches. There were some steep steps down through a wooded area. The only other person around was a jogger with legs of steel, who kept running up and down the steps! She is definitely far healthy than either Marc or I!
We knew that Wreck beach at the end of the headland was an area where clothing is optional. But actually there were people sunbathing in the buff on Tower beach too. We found a bit of driftwood that was balanced to allow me to walk out to the end and pose for a photo. I only noticed when I got home… but there was a willy in this photo! Oops! I don’t think Marc intended to take a penis photo in our holiday snaps. Anyway, I have added a star to the photo to protect the bloke’s modesty, so don’t bother to zoom in!
Tower beach is named after two remnants of WWII – large towers that used to hold powerful search lights. The first one is called Tower 2 (or CASL Coast Artillery Search Light #9). Apparently some of the graffiti high up where it can’t be re-painted easily is from the 1970s.
The beach itself was lovely, although quite rocky. There were a few naked sunbathers in secluded spots, but most other walkers were still wearing clothes.
Further along the beach, we found a small bunker with a happy skull painted into the back. After that was Tower 1 (CASL #10). I like the way the towers are surrounded by bright green trees, so it makes the colourful graffiti really stand out.
To walk along this section of the beach you need to balance on large rocks and on driftwood. It makes it into quite a fun walk, but you need to watch your step to protect your ankles. Eventually the rocks give way to a large sandy area called Wreck beach. This part of the beach was really full of naked folks, so I didn’t take any close-ups! We stopped at the beach for a sandwich, made by a friendly man called Abdul, who has been selling yummy sarnies here since the 70s. Marc and I did look a little out of place in our hiking boots and clothes, but I did see a sign that said people are meant to keep their clothes on if they are hiking.
Beyond Wreck Beach’s naked people, we could see a huge area that is used to store logs. Neither of us had seen how the logging industry works close up; So we decided to keep walking along the nature trail beyond Wreck beach.
Nature trail is the perfect description of this walk! You can see the beach to your left and lovely woodland on the right. Then, despite the sign asking hikers to keep their clothes on, we did encounter quite a few naked walkers too! The path was a little swamp-like but planks have been laid down to make it easy to walk . I hope the naked hikers didn’t get bitten on any sensitive areas by the mozzies! I had clothes and plenty of DEET, and I still managed to be bitten twice!
At the end of the walk we had to take some more steep steps back up away from the beach.
Then, as we still had quite a lot of energy left, we walked through the University of British Columbia. I am hoping to find a job there, so it was lovely to have a look around. It is a massive campus, well spaced out with plenty of greenery and stunning views of the mountains and sea. Lucky Canadian students!!