What’s a person to do when they want to hit the beach but aren’t into the packed crowds of English Bay, Jericho, and Wreck Beach? We’ve got a few ideas that’ll give you some scenic serenity for a day of tanning and swimming in relative peace and quiet.

So, if you’re looking for somewhere a little less crowded, this list may give you a few suggestions. As usual, with this power comes great responsibility – don’t be an ass, and clean up your mess!

tower beach vancouver beach bonfires

Tower Beach

Type of beach: Rocky
Parking: Pay parking near UBC, otherwise – walk or bike!
Amenities: Port-a-potty at the top of the stairs
Location: Google Maps

Sort of like Wreck Beach’s “surly little brother”, Tower Beach is a great place to go if you’re shy about going nude for the first time (it’s a clothing optional beach) but want to give it a try. The beach also has some cool towers covered in graffiti that make for excellent photos. If you’re hoping to have a beach fire, Tower Beach offers a great option (and plenty of seating). Swimming’s not the best and the beach is very rocky, but it’s nice and quiet. You can also wander over to Wreck if you get bored.

rope swing kitsilano

“Sunset Beach” in Kitsilano

Type of beach: Sandy / tidal rocks
Parking: On the road
Amenities: None
LocationVery close to the Jericho Sailing Centre

English Bay isn’t the only excellent place to watch the sunset, Kitsilano also has a semi-secret little piece of paradise that includes a great little rope swing. This beach is easy to miss, because you need to go down some steps from Point Grey Road, turn left, and keep walking to get to the sand. If you feel like exploring, there’s some great little stretches of beach in front of the huge mansions of Kitsilano. This beach is popular with photography-buffs, families, and drunk university students. It’s not super secret, but it’s a great little place to have in your back pocket. Also, the swing is excellent (if it’s still there). It’s best at low tide, but you can still get to it when the water is up.

crab park vancouver

Crab Park

Type of beach: Sandy / grass
Parking: Parking lot
Amenities: Good bathrooms
LocationNear the Seabus terminal

Okay, Crab Park isn’t exactly a secret anymore, especially after hosting Ce Soir Noir last year. This park is a great option if you want a little bit more freedom than other options. Public drinking is definitely more accepted here, and you won’t be alone with your paper bag of booze (which shouldn’t even be an issue, wake up Vancouver liquor laws). The park is a good option in downtown if you’re not into the crowds that flock to English Bay. It’s the alternative beach, if you will. It also has a fair-sized sandy beach area that is great for dogs. Pack a picnic and enjoy the view of the North Shore.

stearman beach west vancouver

Stearman Beach

Type of beach: Small pebbles / sand
Parking: Hard to find
Amenities: Not available
LocationWest Vancouver

West Vancouver has quite a few secret beaches located in front of the million+ mansions. The beaches in front of these mansions are actually public property and are fun places to hang out for a couple of hours. Most don’t know that these beaches even exist, and there aren’t exactly signs pointing them out. The best way to track them down is analyzing Google Maps Earth view. You’ll get to enjoy the same waterfront views that people pay $12 million for, without having to deal with cleaning 10 bathrooms.

sandy cove beach vancouver

Sandy Cove Beach

Type of beach: Sandy / grass
Parking: Very hard to find on sunny days
Amenities: Available
LocationWest Vancouver

Another slice of serene heaven in West Vancouver! Sandy Cove Beach is a bit easier to find than the other West Vancouver secret beaches, but it’s still a challenge to get to. The small beach lives up to its name and has some comfortable sand for lounging on and sun all the way through the day. This beach is best at mid-tide so make sure you take a look at the tide charts before going. There’s always the grass patch if you can’t find any sand.

secret beaches of vancouver

New Brighton Park

Type of beach: Sandy / grass
Parking: Nice parking lot
Amenities: Available
Location: East Vancouver

Most people drive by this park on their way to the Second Narrows bridge or the PNE without a second thought. This is what makes this park a great place to hang out at. There’s even a pool that is open from May – September. The area surrounding the park is very industrial, but the grass is a nice break from the steel and train tracks. There’s a beach area (popular with dog owners), a patch of grass for picnics, and – of course – the pool.

secret beaches vancouver

Iona Beach

Type of beach: Sandy / Trail
Parking: Available at the start of the trail
Amenities: None

This beach is not a great swimming beach, but it’s a perfect place to go for a nice long walk. Iona Beach is made up of a long, narrow jetty of sand and grass along the mouth of the Fraser River. The majority of the walking route is along the beach or on a sandy, unmarked trail. It’s a great place to get out and stretch your legs and also offers a cool opportunity to watch planes land from very close up.

Leave a Reply

  1. Janet

    I have been to Sandy Cove many times and….it does have washrooms which were renovated a couple of years ago. Parking is hard to find as it gets to be more crowded on hot days, and there are increasing parking restrictions being implemented for non-residents as this beach has become more popular over the years.

  2. David Tam

    Macdonald Beach in Richmond is another very nice alternative to Iona. It’s not swimmable due to the strong currents, but the water is nicer and it doesn’t stink as much. It’s a dog beach so you’ll see many dog walkers around there, but it’s clean and has a very friendly environment!

  3. T

    Needs to say:
    DONT GO IN THE WATER at Crab Park or New Brighton for sure, not even your feet. Stating that there is a beach at these places but not staying that the water is unfit to be in is not very responsible.