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 A couple of years back we wrote this post about the best beaches for swimming in Vancouver, Coast & Mountains and our readers loved it! We thought it was time to revisit the post and do an update. Many of the beaches are still our favourites and definitely stand the test of time, but we've come across a few awesome new (to us) beaches that deserve a mention as well.


Want to go swimming this summer? So do we! A while ago we asked for your suggestions on the best beaches in the region - not just any beach - the absolute best beaches for swimming. According to our research and your feedback, here are some of the best beaches for swimming in Vancouver, Coast & Mountains:

1. Centennial Beach – Tsawwassen:

If you want to feel as though you're on summer vacation in Florida, come to Centennial Beach in Boundary Bay Regional Park. A popular swimming destination for generations of local families, Centennial's famous for its expansive sandy beaches, its clean clear water abundant with sea life, and its family-friendly environment. Not only does it have great picnic facilities, change rooms, and concession stands, it also has a large playground, baseball diamonds, and volleyball nets. Come at low tide for miles of sandbars, but come in between tides for some of the warmest saltwater swimming in British Columbia.

2. Wreck Beach - Vancouver:

As Vancouver's only clothing-optional beach (stress on the optional), Wreck has become a bit of an enigma. Nudity aside, it's truly one of Vancouver's most beautiful beaches. You've got the seclusion from the city, the rainforest backdrop, and unobstructed panoramic views. There's also the cultural aspect of Wreck (vendors, hoop dancers, drum circles, etc.) which can make for a rather eccentric scene. But when it comes for a dip in that water, a summer's day at Wreck can't be beat.

3. Hicks Lake (updated 07/30/14)

Located in Sasquatch Provincial Park and a short drive from Harrison Hot Springs, Hicks Lake is a picturesque little lake with sandy beaches and warm water. Buoys mark off the swimming areas and an easy, flat walking trail circles the lake and can be hiked in about 2 hours.  There are campsites available and a day use area. The park was named for the legendary bigfoot, so keep your eyes open!

4. Bunzten Lake – Port Moody (updated 07/30/14):

Bunzten Lake, located just north of Port Moody, is a BC Hydro reservoir and water from the reservoir powers two hydroelectric plants that provide power to Vancouver. Originally named Lake Beautiful, likely in homage to the sweeping vistas surrounding the lake, Buntzen is a very popular summer recreational destination. The lake is on the cool side (it’s glacial fed) and the water is crystal clear, making it perfect for a dip on a hot summer day. With 2 beaches to choose from, you can decide whether to stick with the crowds at south beach, or make the trek to the north beach. There are picnic facilities, shelter and grass play areas, boat & canoe launch areas, hiking & mountain biking trails and a designated area for dogs.

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Bunzten Lake | Photographer: GoToVan via Flickr

5. Heisholt Lake – Texada Island:

Several people in the know (including photographer Darren Robinson) enthusiastically raved to us about "Quarry Lake" or "the Rock Quarries" on Texada Island.  Upon further investigation, it turns out that this is formally named Heisholt Lake, although apparently nobody calls it that. In any case, Heisholt or Quarry Lake is an abandoned marble quarry which has been filled with blue-green water from a natural spring. The lake looks absolutely magical and is considered one of the best swimming holes on the Sunshine Coast. The best part? There's rarely more than 10 people there, so it feels as though you have the lake to yourself. While there's not a traditional beach (there are rocky outcroppings), we felt it had to be included on our list.

Texada Island, Photo by Darren Robinson

Heisholt Lake | Photographer: Darren Robinson Photography

6. Locarno Beach – Vancouver:

Flanked by Spanish Banks and Jericho Beach, Kitsilano's Locarno Beach is loved by many. Unlike Kitsilano Beach, this is a larger, quieter, more family-oriented beach. Part of Locarno's allure is its expansive coastline, the views of the city and mountains, the treed park-like environment separating the road from the beach, the great picnic and BBQ facilities, the concession stands, the lifeguards, and the warm, shallow water. At low tide the beach is popular with skimboarders as the sandbars go out forever, but if you're looking for a swim, come at high tide. And for the ultimate blissful summer in Vancouver experience, come during sunset.

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Locarno Beach | Photographer: Su-Lin via Flickr

7. Cat Lake – Squamish (updated 07/30/14):

A little more off-the-beaten-path than many other parks in the Sea to Sky corridor, Cat Lake is located north of Squamish along a forest service road.  Clean and warm, Cat Lake attracts hikers and mountain bikers and is a great day trip park. There are walk-in campsites available, and although the park has developed a reputation as a party hot spot, reports are that a zero-tolerance approach to rowdy partiers has been adopted. The swimming in the lake is awesome and hidden on the shorelines are wooden homemade rafts and rope swings.

8. Savary Island - Sunshine Coast:

Considered the Hawaii of the north, the Sunshine Coast's Savary Island is a beach bum's dream with its white sand beaches and clear warm turquoise waters. As explained on BigPacific.com, "Savary is almost completely surrounded by beaches. When the sun bakes them, they are white. The Island itself is largely composed of sand. The main exception to this is Mace Point, the rocky eastern tip of Savary which is about a mile off the coast of Lund. In addition, as Savary is about five miles long and averages half a mile wide, the ratio of beach to land mass is unusually high". While it takes a bit of coordination to get there, it's certainly worth the effort.

9. Alouette Lake - Maple Ridge:

It seems fitting that local farm Alouette Fresh recommended Alouette Lake to us! Situated in Golden Ears Provincial Park, Alouette Lake is a massive lake nestled within the mountains. Although it has several swimming areas, the most popular is South Beach. This is a sandy beach with a roped off swimming area. Be aware that there are no lifeguards at Alouette Lake, but this is  the case for all provincial parks. South Beach also has many BBQ pits and picnic sites, so it makes for a great afternoon outing. And if you're wanting to make it a weekend getaway, there are even campgrounds!

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Photo: Davis Bay, Sechelt. Source: K8 via Flickr

10. Davis Bay – Sechelt:

It was Coracle Cove B&B who recommended Davis Bay at low tide, as that's when the tidal pools and sand bars emerge. "With the sun shining, it doesn't get any better!" they claim. It's also a popular beach for families. North Vancouver bloggers Find Family Fun spent a weekend on Davis Bay where their kids enjoyed playing in the sand. "There's a sandy section of beach towards the south end of Davis Bay. The kids built a huge dam on the beach to keep the tide back, but the tide eventually won out."

11. Kawkawa Lake – Hope (updated 07/30/14):

It was TravelTheCanyon.com that first recommended Kawkawa Lake. They considered it one of the best places to beat the summer heat in the Fraser Canyon. It has a sandy beach that is great for sand castles and is surrounded by lush forest for those seeking some relief from the sun. With grassy play areas, picnic  tables and a new play gym it’s a great spot for families.

12. Chilliwack Lake – Chilliwack:

Tourism Chilliwack gave us the head's up about Chilliwack Lake. “It’s a lot quieter” they tell us “due to the 40km ride”. But if you can make that drive (through old growth temperate rainforest, no less), it’s worth going the extra distance. You're unlikely to find crowds along this beach of fine powdery sand, but that's half the attraction. Note that the swimming's great, but the water is very cold. According to the Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park website, the area is prone to high winds in the afternoons, however, it's worth it - the views of Mount Corriveau from the beach are spectacular.

13. Katherine Lake – Pender Harbour:

Katherine Lake is one of several popular swimming lakes in the Pender Harbour area and it has a pretty little sandy beach - popular for families. Sunshine Coast Tourism told us that the lakes in this region (Garden Bay Lake, Katherine Lake, Hotel Lake, and Mixal Lake) are special because they're glacial remnants. And North Vancouver blogger Trudel's Knapsack confirmed it for us. They wrote, "The Pender Harbour area has four amazing swimming lakes all within walking distance of each other. And because they're pretty much at sea level they can be bathtub warm."


14. Lost Lake – Whistler:

If you're not mountain biking, hiking, or playing golf in Whistler, you may want to go for a dip in Lost Lake. Known for its shallow waters and sandy beach, Lost Lake is considered one of the best lakes in Whistler for swimming. The best part is that it feels secluded, but you're really not too far from the village. With its grassy parkland surrounded by forest, it also makes a great picnic destination, whether you want to have a BBQ or eat at the concession stand. This is summer in Whistler at its finest!

15. Barnet Marine Park - Burnaby:

Definitely a well kept secret, Barnet Marine Park is Burnaby's only saltwater swimming beach. A family favourite, the beach is large and sandy and swimmers enjoy a designated swimming area. The views across the inlet to Deep Cove in North Vancouver are spectacular and it's a great spot for watching freighters and marine traffic. If you're interested in taking a stroll, there is a lovely (and short) shoreline walk with lots of spots to spread a blanket and gaze out at the water. There are picnic benches scattered around the park and in summer there is a concession stand and showers.  A must visit for those looking for beaches in Metro Vancouver!

16. Roberts Creek - Sunshine Coast (updated 07/30/14)

With about 20 little public beach access points, Roberts Creek promises a quiet beach experience. A low tide, a sandy beach is revealed, and the ocean’s water is warm and inviting. Some of the beaches have small picnic areas and the main beach at the bottom of Roberts Creek Road has a pier and is close to the community mandala, a spectacular mural created annually by residents and visitors.

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Roberts Creek Beach | Photographer: Mark Faviell via Flickr

17. Mowat Bay, Powell River (updated 07/30/14):

Located on Powell Lake near Powell River, Mowat Bay is home to one of the coast’s favourite swimming beaches. Powell Lake is With a sandy beach, large grass area, a playground, plenty of picnic tables and spectacular scenery, it’s a great beach for families.

18. Mosquito Lake, Pemberton (updated 07/30/14):

Our friends at the Pemberton Valley Lodge tell us that Mosquito Lake is the best swimming hole in the Pemberton area.  The lake is small and warms up almost as soon as the weather gets hot. There are two small docks and picnic area, but we recommend getting there early as shore space can be at a premium.

19. Tunstall Bay Beach, Bowen Island (updated 07/30/14):

Tunstall Bay, located on the west side of Bowen Island, is a sandy and pebbly beach and is popular for swimming, sailing and kayaking.  A gorgeous place to watch the sunset, Tunstall Bay has been a favourite of Bowen Islander’s since it was a retirement community in the 1950s.  Bowen is accessible by BC Ferry from Horseshoe Bay, and to get to Tunstall Bay we suggest hopping on the bus, or bringing your bike. You can drive, but parking can be a little tricky!

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Sunset at Tunstall Bay | Photographer: Chris Corrigan via Flickr