Monday, September 5, 2011

My 5 favorite beaches in & around Vancouver

C-plane over Third Beach
1. Third Beach
Location: Stanley Park, Vancouver.
Facilities: change rooms, washrooms, showers, picnic area above the beach, & concession (in the summer season).
This is probably my favorite beach to take the kids to in Vancouver. The water is deep enough for swimming, whether the tide is out or in, which is good now that they're a little more sure of themselves in the ocean. The beach is great for making sandcastles, and beach-combing (bring a bucket for shells and rocks if you've got a collector in the family!). Also, if the tide is out you can spot some sea-life on the rocks.

Third Beach is also a great beach for just relaxing. There are lots of logs to set up camp next to, and lots to look at: ships, C-planes, kayaks, seagulls, and more.

Winter walk at Centennial Beach
2. Centennial Beach
Location: Boundary Bay, Tsawwassen
Facilities: washrooms, change-rooms, beautiful playground, concession (in summer), hiking trails, lots of picnic tables and fire pits.
This beach makes for a fantastic day trip with the kids. The playground is one of the best around Vancouver, and the beach is fantastic for kite-flying and beach-combing. The water is quite shallow, and if the tide is out it will take you quite a while to even get your ankles wet. But there's lots of ocean critters to look at: seagulls, clams, shells, crabs, even fish if you look carefully. Also: parking is free and plentiful.

Looking at a very tiny dead crab on Crescent Beach
3. Crescent Beach
Location: White Rock
Facilities: washrooms, change rooms, shower, several restaurants and cafes.
We usually go for a walk along this beach, making a stop on the pier to watch someone crab-fishing, and sometimes heading all the way out to the end of Blackie Spit. If your child likes collecting rocks: beware! They might end up bringing home a truckload from this beach. It's a great place for a leisurely stroll, and I even like to bring the kids here when it's raining. They'll put their boots and rain-gear on and run along the seaside trail, jumping in the puddles. Great way to burn off energy on a rainy day!

View Larger Map
4. Spanish Banks
Location: Vancouver
Facilities: change-rooms, washrooms, showers, free parking, concession (in summer).
We used to go to this beach a lot when the kids were smaller. The water is shallow for a looooong stretch so you don't have to worry much about the kids getting in too deep. The beach is nice and huge with lots of space even if it's quite busy. Also, easy access to showers and washrooms, and a short walking distance from the parking area to the beach is very nice when you've got little kids. Fantastic views of Vancouver's downtown, and the North Shore mountains is a big plus as well.

At the lagoon on Harrison Lake
5. Lake Harrison
Location: Harrison Hot Springs
Facilities: washrooms, change rooms, showers, small playground, waterfront walkway, lots of restaurants & cafes, various water-sport and boat rentals.
I did a write-up on this beach recently, and it's a wonderful place for a day-trip. It does take a while to drive there from Vancouver, but the payoff is a beautiful, big lake with placid water and nice sand for digging moats and building sand-castles. The man-made lagoon is perfect for very small kids with shallow, warm water. If your kids are older, they'll probably enjoy the beach along the lake more: water is a bit colder, but also a little deeper for splashing and swimming.

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