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5 freshwater swimming holes in Vancouver

When it gets hot in Vancouver, it gets pretty hot. Okay, definitely not as hot as other places in BC (or in Canada, for that matter). But, it gets respectively hot and then everyone starts to complain. Buck up! We’ve got a list of our 6 favourite swimming holes (and we’re using that term loosely here) to go in Vancouver to cool down and chill out on those long, hot summer days.

1. Capilano Canyon

The Capilano Canyon is a treasure trove of secret riverside hang-outs, cliff-jumping locations, and dog-friendly, off-leash areas. The secret to finding the best location to chill out in Capilano Canyon? Lots of exploration. We’ve already found at least 3 rocky bluffs that have plenty of sunshine, deep waterholes, and fun cliffs for jumping (be safe!). The water is definitely not warm, so make sure you go on a hot day and scope out a spot that has plenty of sunshine. We like Granny’s Cove as our go-to place in the Capilano Canyon, but there are tons of other rocky shorelines to be found.

lynn canyon swimming hole vancouver

2. Lynn Canyon

Lynn Canyon is another location that is effortless to get to via transit. However, that also means that there will be a lot of people with the same idea as you (see picture above). The main swimming hole location is pretty obvious, just look for the masses of people huddled on rocks watching the cliff jumpers. If you want some more peace and quiet, head down the river towards the twin waterfalls. Most people tend to stick to the top of the trail and rarely venture anywhere else. This water is mindbogglingly cold, which means it’s also a great place to keep your drinks cool. However, there are usually a lot of park rangers keeping things under control, so try and keep it low-key.

bridgeman park north vancouver

3. Bridgman Park

Another North Shore gem, Bridgman Park is most frequented by dog owners because of the long dog-friendly trail up the river. The river has a rocky shore that’s a great place to set up camp chairs and stick your feet in the water. It’s also easily accessible from a parking lot, which makes it easier to bring things with you (not that we’re suggesting this). We have even witnessed a family have a bbq picnic with a large backyard bbq that they dragged next to the river. Uh, care to share? Bonus: if you’re a fan of dogs, there is a steady stream of cute pups chasing sticks and shaking on you, which makes it extra fun!

4. Whyte Lake

One of the best benefits from the 2010 Olympics was the creation of the trail to Whyte Lake, a little-known scenic lake that is found that the end of a short, easy 5km hike in West Vancouver. Is it swimmable? Well, that’s debatable. Depending on the time of year, the water is less murky. But, it’s up to you if you want to take the plunge. Personally, we wouldn’t put our head under the water.

The Whyte Lake Trail is accessed from Westport Road just south of the Upper Levels Highway at Nelson Canyon.

cabin lake swimming hole

5. Cabin Lake on Cypress Mountain

If you like to sweat before you swim, the best option for finding an easily accessible lake in Vancouver is to head for the hills. Cypress Mountain has two awesome lakes that are great for swimming and relaxing on the shore as a reward for huffing up a hill. Cabin Lake is a well-known swimming hole on the North Shore and tends to draw a few crowds during the hotter days of summer. For good reason, this lake is awesome and has plenty of space to enjoy lunch and spread out a blanket to lounge in the sun. Here’s a great website that lists 3 awesome lakes at the end of hiking trails.

Where is your favourite place to chill out on a sunny day in Vancouver? Let us know in the comment section!

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