For all my years in East Van (one of the few parts of the Lower Mainland without good beach access), I never realized how amazing it is to live near a beach. There’s something about the sand, sun, and surf, the driftwood and rocks, that calms me.
Summer is here, and I know a lot of beach days are in our future. I have only hit the tip of the iceberg for Lower Mainland offerings. Here are a few of our favorite beaches around the Lower Mainland. Each of these places is a bit different, and I visit them for different activities or different moods.
Best Dog Beach – Mcdonald Beach, Richmond
McDonald Beach is Ger’s Happy Place. I’m not comfortable letting Ger off leash in many unfenced areas (huskies are notorious escape artists). But I have no worries about him here. This beach is far enough off the main road that he’s not near traffic. It’s also not right on top of walking or biking trails. The only place he’s going to go is further up the beach.
Breccan and Olin love McDonald Beach too. There is lots of boat traffic to watch, and they love meeting new dogs (Breccan is a pro at introducing Ger, and both boys are getting pretty dog-smart about how to greet new dogs). There is a current, so it’s a wading not a swimming beach. We head here in any season, but probably once a week (sometimes more!) when the weather is nice.
Best Trails – Centennial Beach, Tsawwassen
There are 23 km of looping trails around Centennial Beach. You’re guaranteed to see some cool birds. The boardwalk makes the trails accessible for strollers as well.
There’s a huge playground as well. In the summer, there is a concession stand! The washrooms and change rooms are new and clean as well.
Best Beach for Little Kids – Garry Point Park, Richmond
Driftwood galore, regular traffic from cool boats, rocks for skipping, and several cozy little beaches make this my favorite for the most stress-free beach day, regardless of the season. The water is pretty shallow and not too cold.
There are multiple small beaches, so kids can’t get too far away. The waves tend to be small (but big enough that kids actually learn to navigate them). The Pajo’s stand has amazing fish and chips, and Timothy’s has delicious ice cream. Perfect if you don’t feel like packing a picnic.
Best Rock-Skipping Beach – Cates Park, North Vancouver
Lots of beaches around here are rocky, but that’s rarely a good thing. Cates Park has an abundance of smooth, round rocks that don’t hurt to walk on and are perfect for skipping. If you walk about 500 meters past the main beach, there are a ton of little secluded beaches that even maintain their privacy on the weekends.
There is also a playground further down the trail. Pack light so you can walk in, and carpool if possible because parking can be scarce.
Best Mama’s Day Off – Kits Beach, Vancouver
If you have a day off from the kids, Kits Beach is the perfect place to relax. The view of the North Shore mountains is stunning. You’re a short walk from 4th Avenue and all its chic restaurants and boutiques (including Joyride Nails if you’re in need of some pampering).
In the summer, there is free evening yoga in the park. It’s quite popular, but the crowd is very diverse. There is no better way to practice yoga than outside in my opinion!
Kits Beach is also kid-friendly. There is a huge playground, and the beaches are nice and sloping. In fact, it’s probably the perfect place for your partner to hang out with the kids while you enjoy a mani-pedi and yoga in the park 😉
I cannot wait to find some new beaches this summer. What is your favorite beachy hang out?