By JILL VON SPRECKEN
Which way to the beach? With Vancouver’s wrap-around shoreline, a stretch of sand can be found in any direction
This palm tree–lined sunbathing spot is popular with the downtown crowd, and for good reason: lively eateries vie for views along Beach Avenue and bustling Denman Street, and the seawall leads a constant stream of amblers, joggers and cyclists into nearby Stanley Park. Join the crowds for photo ops with public art, or just enjoy the views.
Second & Third Beaches
Stanley Park isn’t all forest and trails: the perfect retreat can be found at the park’s two beaches. Near the entrance, families flock to low-key Second Beach for the outdoor pool and grassy playground. Throughout the summer, the Chevron Summer Cinema Series screens free outdoor movies on Tuesday evenings. Venture farther to reach isolated Third Beach for stunning sunsets or a welcome break while circling the seawall.
Mountain and city views aren’t the only scenery that draws crowds to this beach, often rated one of the sexiest in Canada. Here, sun worshippers share the sand with volleyball and Frisbee players, and basketball and tennis players pack the courts. Cool off with a dip in the ocean or 137-m- (450-ft-) long outdoor Kitsilano Pool.
The City of Glass looks spectacular from this vantage point—especially at sunset. On the west side of the beach, watch the colourful sails of windsurfers and sailboats skim over the waves, against a backdrop of huge freighters. To skipper your own craft, visit Windsure Adventure Watersports or MacSailing. The east side is ideal for swimming, beach volleyball and tennis, and also hosts the annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival (Jul. 18 to 20).
Locals love this urban oasis, the city’s quietest sandy shore. Head here during low tide for the expansive tidal flats, popular with skimboarders and tide-pool explorers. Lay a blanket on the sand and plan to stay awhile—barbeques, picnics and volleyball games are de rigueur on this relaxing sandy stretch.
Dare to bare it all on the secluded sands of this clothing-optional beach. Descend the 450 stairs leading to Canada’s first and largest naturist beach, located at the western tip of Vancouver in Pacific Spirit Regional Park. The trek is worth the stunning views: there are no signs of the city on this rugged au naturel coastline.