When the world thinks of Canada snow and mountains come to mind, yet Vancouver is a city that comes to life in the summer. There are four months of incredible weather, from June to September, and Vancourites know how to make the most of the sunshine. Locals ditch their raincoats in favor of beachwear and litter the cities coastline. From the busy downtown beaches of English Bay to the far-flung nude beach of Wreck, there are plenty of options for every mood.
English Bay is the place for beach hangs in Vancouver, centrally located in downtown West End, it has something for everyone. In the summer you will be lucky to find a free patch of grass or sand, as the shores positively buzz with people. Friends camp out with BBQs, koozies with covert drinks, soccer balls and frisbees. Music pumps, flirting abounds and brave locals take a dip when temperatures rise. There’s a waterslide pontoon in the ocean, a public pool and plenty of action to keep people-watchers entertained. English Bay is surrounded by bars and restaurants, for when you get peckish, and the patios are always packed. It’s also home to the famous seawall, a coastal walking or biking path that circles Stanley Park.
Third Beach is a 30-minute walk, or fifteen-minute bike ride along the seawall from English Bay. It’s smaller and a little harder to get to, which makes it less busy. It has become popular with hipsters and hippies alike, you will find many fixed gear bikes along the shores. Third beach is famous for raucous drum circles every Tuesday night, which often turn into a beach party with everything from brass instruments to fire dancers.
Kits beach has been named one of the world’s best city beaches for a reason. It has great views of the downtown skyline, it’s a favoured spot to watch the fireworks, play beach volleyball, or catch the sunsets on long summer nights when the sun can set as late as 930pm. You can also find solitude in the grass under the trees, although expect it to be busy all summer long.
If you’re up for a bit more of a trek head to Wreck beach, cherished among Vancouverites. Wreck is a nude beach, although not everyone adheres to that, and has become an all-day hangout spot frequented by vendors and visitors. Located in Kitsilano, out by UBC, there is a steep staircase descending down to the beach. One of the coolest things about Wreck is that there is barely a building in sight, and you won’t believe you’re in a busy city.
Spanish Banks is a more serene beach than Kits or English Bay, and easier to access than Wreck. It offers great city views and incredible sunsets, without the crowds. Bring a book or sunbake with your friends, without worrying about getting hit on, or hating the music blaring from the blanket next to you.
Ambleside is in West Vancouver, one of the richest neighbourhoods in the city. It has a nice seawall path for biking or walking, and great views of the Lionsgate Bridge and Stanley Park. There’s a sandy beach, a grassy park and a playground for the little ones. Ambleside village has some good food and drink options nearby.