Local Secrets: Where to Find BC’s Best Beaches 5

Local Secrets: Where to Find BC’s Best Beaches

Share  Facebook Twitter pinterest logoPinterest
Savary Island | Andrew Strain

When people think of British Columbia, they think of rainforests. But since the Pacific Ocean laps the length of the province, there are also miles of coastal beaches to explore­—not to mention islands.

A few of these beaches have a pretty high profile, such as Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver, which pulses with people swimming and spiking beach volleyballs. But others offer a more low-key scene as locals spread out to claim their own patches of paradise.

Here are five gorgeous beaches that will leave you smiling as you shake the sand out of your bag. Each offers something different, from quiet reflection to invigorating surf, from family fun to…well, naked fun. Relax, like a local.

Rathtrevor Beach | Tourism Vancouver Island/Jordan Dyck

Rathtrevor Beach

Where: Parksville, East Coast of Vancouver Island

Best For: Beachcombing and Family Fun

If Rathtrevor Beach had an online dating profile, it would mention building sandcastles with the kids by day and long sunset walks at night. Located in the family-vacation destination of Parksville, this two-kilometre (1.2-mi) sandy beach offers plenty of room for fun. At low tide, the ocean recedes for almost a kilometre (0.6 mi), inviting exploration of its sandy pools.

Hiking and biking trails and nature programs keep the clan entertained, and in the evening, you can make s’mores at the campgrounds. Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park is popular year-round: from February to April, it’s one of the best bird-watching spots on Vancouver Island to view migrating Brant geese.

Visit Rathtrevor
North Beach | Guy Kimola/Haida Gwaii Tourism

North Beach

Where: Haida Gwaii, Northern British Columbia

Best For: Surfing and Splendid Isolation

North Beach is a stunner. Stretching for miles on the northern tip of Graham Island, it’s where the rainforest of Naikoon Provincial Park meets the ocean. Hike up to Tow Hill and you’ll be rewarded with windswept views of the beach’s wide expanse. Down on the sand, you can catch dungeness crab with just a fishing net in early summer. (Know the restrictions and don’t forget your fishing licence.) From October to May, it’s the perfect place to wade in with a surfboard, and because of its remote location, you’re likely to have the waves to yourself.

Visit North Beach
Wreck Beach | @clemi.v

Wreck Beach

Where: Vancouver
Best For: Shedding Inhibitions

While most people in Vancouver know about Wreck Beach, relatively few have actually seen it. North America’s largest naturist beach is hidden away at the city’s western tip by the University of British Columbia, and you need to descend nearly 500 steps to get there. That doesn’t mean it’s not popular: on a summer weekend it might see thousands of visitors on the mostly sandy 7.8-km (4.8-mi) stretch. Clothing is optional. The Wreck Beach Preservation Society promotes respect and body acceptance through nude recreation.

Visit Wreck Beach
Savary Island | Sunshine Coast Tourism

Savary Island Beaches

Where: Savary Island, Northern Sunshine Coast

Best For: White Sand and Subtropical Vibes

With clear water lapping white sand, the beaches surrounding tiny Savary Island have been called the “Hawaii of the North.”  This is no Waikiki however: the island is off-grid, and its remote location means it retains its laidback feel. Located at the entrance to Desolation Sound, Savary is accessible only by floatplane, boat, barge, or water taxi from Lund, which itself is the “end of the road” as it’s the furthest point north on Highway 101. You can visit in a day trip from Lund; bring a bike to cycle from beach to beach.

Visit Savary
Gyro Beach | Destination Osoyoos

Gyro Beach

Where: Osoyoos, South Okanagan

Best For: Warm-Water Wading

Beaches don’t have to be next to the ocean: you’ll find this one in Canada’s only desert. Osoyoos Lake is an oasis in the town of Osoyoos, and it’s the perfect place for a dip in the summer when the mercury rises past 35˚C (95˚F). Gyro Beach is conveniently located in the city’s downtown core, backed by grassy parkland and shady trees. There are swimming areas for the kids, and water sports on the lake available for adventure seekers.

Visit Gyro

Originally published in April, 2017.

Start Planning Your BC Vacation

Need to Know

Find key travel information to help you plan your trip to BC.

Get Info
Travel Deals

Explore the latest special offers and deals in British Columbia.

See Deals
Book Your Stay

Discover places to stay across BC, including hotels, B&Bs, campgrounds, and more.

Find Accommodations