If you’re visiting Vancouver in the summertime, a visit to one (or several) of the many excellent beaches is an absolute must – especially at sunset.   Public access to beaches is one of the things that make Vancouver great.   Whether you want to play volleyball, build sandcastles, have a picnic, go for a jog, or just sit on a log and take it all in, one of Vancouver’s beaches will give you what you’re looking for.   Some beaches are part of the downtown peninsula, and some are on the west side of the city, out of the downtown core.   Here’s a short list of the best beaches, along with some simple directions for getting there.

Beaches on the Downtown Peninsula

(Note: all of these beaches are connected by the Seawall, a sidewalk that borders the shoreline – great for a walking, biking, or rollerblading excursion.)

English Bay (First Beach),  Beach Avenue between Denman and Bidwell: This is the most populated beach, in the heart of the West End, and is the most accessible from the downtown core.   Follow Robson or Davie Street all the way west, and you’ll hit English Bay.   Buses taking you there are the ‘No. 5 Robson’ and then ‘No. 6 Davie’.   There is plenty to see and do in the area, with dozens of restaurants and stores lining the neighboring streets.   This is also a prime (though crowded) location for viewing the annual Celebration of Light fireworks display, held on multiple dates every summer.

Second Beach, in Stanley Park:   A great beach and a great city pool help make Stanley Park one of the city’s premier destinations.   Walk north along the seawall from English Bay (First Beach) and you’ll hit Second Beach.   Or just keep walking west when you enter Stanley Park, at the tip of the Vancouver’s peninsula.

Third Beach, in Stanley Park:   Continuing even further along the Seawall, you’ll hit Third Beach. Generally considered a bit more private than First or Second beach, this is the quietest beach in the downtown core.

Sunset Beach, just east of English Bay on Beach Ave. between Thurlow and Bute St., at the mouth of False Creek:   This beach is close to the densely populated West End, and the trendy hotspot of Yaletown.  There is an off-leash dog section close to the Vancouver Aquatic Centre.  Granville Island is right across the water from Sunset Beach.  Take the AquaBus there or to other destinations, from the False Creek AquaBus Pier.

Beaches on the West Side of Vancouver, accessed from Downtown by Burrard or Granville Bridges:

Kitsilano Beach, north of Yew Street, Kitsilano: “Kits” Beach is Vancouver’s hippest spot for the tanned and beautiful to hang out and admire each other.  Kits Pool overlooks the beach, and is a huge salt-water pool great for anything from long laps to playing around.   From downtown take the No. 2 or No. 22 bus on Burrard Street south, and you’ll know when you’ve reached Kits Beach.

Jericho Beach, between the north ends of Wallace and Discovery Street:  Heading further west from Kits Beach, the next beach you’ll hit is Jericho.   Providing a decidedly different atmosphere than Kits, this is the place to go for a sunset picnic or a leisurely jog.   The No. 4 UBC bus from downtown will take you there.

Locarno Beach, west of Trimble to Blanca Street on Northwest Marine Drive:  Just west of Jericho is Locarno Beach.  With sand near the shore and grass in behind, this is a great spot to bring a portable BBQ and watch the sun set.  You can see the city, mountains, and ocean all right in front of you.   An easy walk from Jericho.

Spanish Banks, west of Tolmie Street on Northwest Marine Drive:  There are three beaches in one here, between Locarno and the University of British Columbia campus; Spanish Banks East, Spanish Banks West, and the Spanish Banks Extension.  Vancouver Parks’ website says it best; “ Here you can feel truly 'away' as you scan the open waterfront to the west or turn your glance back to one of the most beautiful city skylines anywhere.”

Wreck Beach, UBC The city's only clothing optional beach, this is the place to go to sun your buns.  Obey etiquette standards or risk the wrath of the nudists. 

Links:

Vancouver Parks’ Beaches page, for pictures and lists of amenities: http://www.city.vancouver.bc.ca/parks...

Vancouver ’s Public Transit system: http://www.translink.bc.ca/

Tourism Vancouver for Maps and other information: www.tourismvancouver.com

Tour by Transit - Vancouver BC - for pictures and information about Vancouver parks and beaches and getting to them by public transit: http://vancouver.tourbytransit.com/

2Vancouver also has information on Parks and Beaches