Vancouver embraces its waterfront like no other Canadian city, with countless beaches making it the undisputed best West Coast beach city north of Los Angeles. But there’s more to just swimming and suntanning at Vancouver beaches—especially if you’re a paddler. You’ll find on-site kayak and standup paddleboard rentals at many Vancouver beaches, including several downtown options, so it’s easy to get out on the water on your next vacation or business trip.
There’s no better way to see the city skyline, trace the famous Stanley Park Seawall, ogle the stunning Coast Range mountains of North Vancouver, or experience the wild, tide-swept coastline of the University of British Columbia’s Point Grey than from the water.
Our list includes something for everyone, from the best beaches for dog-walkers to families to naturists (you have options in Vancouver beyond the infamous Wreck Beach). So what are you waiting for? Life’s a beach in Vancouver.
[This article is part of the The Outdoor Adventurer’s Guide To Vancouver. Find all the resources you need to plan an adventure-filled trip to the city of Vancouver.]
Best beaches in Vancouver
At nearly 8 km long, Vancouver’s Wreck Beach is the longest clothing-optional beach in North America. It’s located in Pacific Spirit Regional Park, at the edge of the University of British Columbia. Wreck Beach isn’t for everyone; typical beachgoers are laidback, friendly and naked. This Vancouver beach is busy in the summer and the atmosphere is social, so be prepared for crowds. Go in the off-season if you’re looking for a quieter experience.
There are no lifeguards or facilities, but you’ll find plenty of beach vendors selling all sorts of products and snacks—legal and otherwise. Park at UBC’s West Parkade and descend 480 stairs on Trail 6, located at the west end of University Boulevard. Wreck Beach is popular for skimboarding; sea kayakers can access Wreck Beach by launching from Jericho Beach and tracing the Point Grey shoreline westward.
Aptly named Sunset Beach is located less than a half-hour walk from most downtown Vancouver hotels, at the mouth of False Creek between Bute Street and Thurlow Street, making it a perfect place to end your day. The beach is located on the Stanley Park Seawall so getting there is easy on foot, rollerblade or bicycle. It makes for a great place to launch a kayak or standup paddleboard to explore the sheltered waters of False Creek. This is a designated quiet beach, meaning amplified sound is not allowed. There are concessions, washroom facilities and lifeguards during the summer months.
Jericho Beach is a great destination for paddlers, with sea kayak rentals from Jericho Beach Kayak Centre and long-term waterside kayak storage from the Jericho Sailing Centre. The beach is open to north and west winds so pick your day carefully for sea kayak and standup paddleboard day trips. If weather allows, head east to explore the shoreline of downtown Vancouver or west along Spanish Banks to Wreck Beach and the mouth of the Fraser River.
The east end of Jericho Beach is dedicated to swimmers; you’ll also find concessions, washroom facilities, picnic tables, playground equipment, tennis courts, and a water wheelchair for accessible swimming experiences. Lifeguards are on site from late May through early September. Paid parking is available at the west end of Point Grey Road.
Trout Lake Beach
Vancouver is known for its ocean beaches with stunning views of the Coast Range mountains and city skyline. However, East Vancouver’s Trout Lake Beach is a unique freshwater oasis. You’ll find washrooms, concessions, water wheelchairs for accessible swimming, an off-leash dog park and more. Boats and watercraft require special permission to access the lake. Free parking is available off of Victoria Drive.
This wildly popular beach adjacent to downtown Vancouver is located in the city’s trendiest neighbourhood, hence the moniker “Venice Beach North.” Kitsilano Beach features white-sand access to the ocean, washroom and changeroom facilities, a water wheelchair for accessible swimming, concessions and lifeguards from late May through early September.
Take a dip in the massive heated saltwater swimming pool and admire the stark contrast between snow-capped North Shore mountains and the skyscrapers of downtown—a unique Vancouver experience. On-site kayak and standup paddleboard rentals, instruction and guided trips are available from Vancouver Water Adventures.
English Bay Beach
English Bay Beach (also known as First Beach, for its position along the Stanley Park Seawall), is located adjacent to downtown Vancouver in the bustling West End. On-site kayak and standup paddleboard rentals are available from Vancouver Water Adventures. Paddlers can trace the urban shoreline east past Sunset Beach to False Creek or west along the seawall to Stanley Point.
English Bay Beach features plenty of amenities, including water wheelchairs and a Mobi-Mat accessible beach pathway. Kids love the swim raft and waterslide; lifeguards are on duty from late May through early September. Pay parking is available.
North Shore Vancouver beaches
Beaches on Vancouver’s North Shore are defined by a slower pace and quieter atmosphere. Check out Dunderave Beach in West Vancouver, with a 50-meter-wide swath of pristine sand, a wading pool and plenty of green space located on the Centennial Seawalk. It’s a great place to launch a kayak or standup paddleboard to explore the North Shore. Rentals are available at Mountain Equipment Co-op.
Ambleside Beach features stunning views of downtown Vancouver and Stanley Park, with beach volleyball, washroom and changeroom facilities, concessions, an outdoor shower, pier and one of the largest off-leash dog parks in Vancouver.
Stanley Park beaches
Linked by the famous Seawall, two beaches in Vancouver’s Stanley Park offer distinctive outdoor experiences. Second Beach features a massive heated outdoor pool that’s perfect for fitness swimming, washrooms and changeroom facilities, barbecues for picnics, beach volleyball courts, concessions, seasonal lifeguards, and much more.
Third Beach is more secluded, buffered from the noise and bustle of the city by a steep, densely forested hillside. You’ll feel like you’ve retreated to a wild West Coast beach, far from the city’s grasp—yet also enjoy facilities like concessions, washrooms and lifeguards during the summer months. Both Stanley Park beaches are great destinations for sea kayakers launching from English Bay, Kitsilano or Jericho beaches.
Other nude beaches in Vancouver
Wreck Beach may be Canada’s most famous nude beach, but there are a few others in Vancouver. On a busy day, naturists occupy most of Pacific Spirit Regional Park’s beaches adjacent to the University of British Columbia, including Tower Beach and Acadia Beach (see UBC beaches, below).
There’s also Crescent Rock Beach in Surrey, located on Boundary Bay. This clothing-optional beach is located at the south end of Crescent Beach (which features lifeguards, trails and washroom facilities). Swimming is especially good in the 200-meter nude section of gravel and sand beach, with easy access to deep, warm water. It’s a quieter alternative to the bustle of Wreck Beach.
Dog-friendly beaches in Vancouver
Located adjacent to downtown, south of False Creek, Hadden Beach is Vancouver’s most popular dog-friendly beach—known to some as the doggie version of Kitsilano Beach. There are nearly 3 hectares of off-leash dog park, with seasonal access to the waterfront.
Ambleside Beach in West Vancouver features nearly 8 hectares of off-leash dog park, making it a great destination to take your four-legged friend for a run. Finally, Spanish Banks Extension includes a dog park at Spanish Banks Beach, accessible via NW Marine Drive.
Beaches near UBC-Vancouver
The University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus is one of the most beautiful in the world, largely because of its access to nature. Clothing-optional Wreck Beach is UBC’s most popular sandy expanse, while Tower Beach is certainly the most adventurous. That’s because this wild Vancouver beach is accessed via the 6.4-kilometer Foreshore Trail, which stretches between UBC’s Trail 6 access to Wreck Beach and NW Marine Drive, west of Spanish Banks.
Tower Beach is named for the cement observation structures that date back to World War II and loom over the shoreline. There are no lifeguards or facilities available; be prepared to encounter naturists.
Spanish Banks beaches
Spanish Banks is marked by a massive, kilometer-wide sandflat at low tide. There are two distinct beaches at Spanish Banks located on the Seaside Seawall. Both feature washrooms, volleyball courts, water wheelchairs for accessible swimming, volleyball courts and seasonal lifeguard duty.
This Vancouver waterfront park is located off of NW Marine Drive; paid parking is available. Nearby Locarno Beach offers a quiet, low-key experience for families. No amplified sound is permitted. You’ll find free parking, volleyball courts, picnic facilities, summer-season lifeguards and more.