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Which way to the beach? Well, in Vancouver you can find one everywhere you turn. Whether you're looking for a stretch of sand to spread out and relax with a good book, an outdoor court to spike a volleyball, or a catwalk to strut your stuff, Vancouver's got it. The following is a list of some of the best beaches in the city.
If Vancouver is "Hollywood North," then Vancouver's Kitsilano Beach - or "Kits Beach" to the locals - is our Venice Beach. Buff and bronzed bodies are sure to make their rounds, but don't be wary, you're sure to fit in somewhere amidst the mix of joggers, stroller-pushing families, sun-worshippers and your everyday loungers. Grassy patches above the tide line are perfect for tossing the disc, the tennis courts are always popular, and the beach attracts volleyball players from all over the city. And don't forget Kits Pool where kids and adults can splash away the day in an outdoor, heated salt-water pool with a wrap-around view of the city, ocean and mountains. It's almost three times the size of an Olympic pool.
When all the elements are right, fishing and a picnic at the Jericho Beach pier makes for a perfect evening. Enjoy the long, sandy stretch with stunning views of the North Shore Mountains and downtown core. It's also a great spot for sailing, windsurfing, sea kayaking and beach volleyball.
To commemorate the discovery of the Spanish explorers in 1792, the British named this particular shore Spanish Banks. The least crowded of Vancouver's beaches, this stretch of sand is a wonderful retreat for those who wish to escape from the pace of city life. Skimmers alert: this is the perfect place for skim boarding once you learn the optimal tidal conditions.
West End Beaches
The southern edge of the West End neighbourhood has two of the most attractive waterfront urban environments - English Bay and Sunset Beach. Amazingly, this large stretch of sand is no more than a 30-minute walk from the downtown core - with no commercial exploitation intruding on the peaceful environment. In summer, English Bay becomes a jumping off point for rollerblading adventures, strolling for ice cream, and picnics. Kids will love the floating slide and parents will appreciate the full time lifeguard. It's also the place to lay down your blanket and look up to the sky during the HSBC Celebration of Light international fireworks competition (July 31, August 3rd and 6th).
Second & Third Beaches
Second Beach is a quick stroll north from English Bay into Stanley Park. Like Kitsilano Beach, Second Beach also has an immense, heated outdoor pool. Further along the seawall lies secluded Third Beach, which is due north of Stanley Park Drive. Locals tote grills and coolers to this spot, a popular place for summer evening barbecues and sunset watching.
This six-kilometre long, secluded beach is Canada's first and largest, legal, clothing-optional beach. It's located at the western tip of Vancouver, adjacent to the University of British Columbia campus, down a long flight of steep stairs. On a summer weekend, as many as 14,000 visitors flock to the beach which stretches from the Musqueam Reserve to Spanish Banks West. Vendors Row, located down the middle of the beach below Trail 6, offers snacks and refreshments. Note: Wreck Beach enthusiasts are a loyal and protective bunch who take their right to "bare" arms, legs and everything else pretty seriously.
For beach information, call 604-738-8535 from mid-May to mid-September. During other times of the year call 604-665-3424.
Sand Volleyball Courts
English Bay (First Beach)
Beach Ave. between Denman and Bidwell St.
Between North ends of Wallace and Discovery St.
Waterfront north end of Yew St.
West of Trimble to Blanca St. on NW Marine Dr.
Second Beach (Stanley Park)
Stanley Park at North Lagoon Dr.
Spanish Bank East
West of Tolmie St. on NW Marine Dr.
Spanish Bank Extension
West of Spanish Bank West on NW Marine Dr.
Spanish Bank West
West of Spanish Bank East on NW Marine Dr.
East of English Bay on Beach Ave. between Thurlow and Bute St.
Third Beach (Stanley Park)
Stanley Park at Ferguson Point
2100 block E. 19th Ave. off Victoria Dr.
* Lifeguards Victoria Day to Labour Day ** Quiet Beaches - no amplified music permitted
There are food concessions at all lifeguarded beaches except for the Spanish Bank Extension. Many of the concessions are seasonal, open on a daily basis during the summer, weather permitting. The following concessions are open year-round on sunny days: Spanish Bank East, Sunset, English Bay, Second Beach, Third Beach, and Lumbermen's Arch.
Some Pertinent Park By-laws for Beaches. Prohibited are:
dogs - except at Spanish Bank West (200m west of the concession), Sunset Beach (bay behind Aquatic Centre) posted areas, from 6 am to 10 pm, and west of the Maritime Museum on Kits Point from 6 am to 10 am and 5 pm to 10 pm;