Couple riding bikes along the sand with the ocean and small islands off the coast behind them

Top 12 Beaches in BC

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North Chesterman Beach, Tofino | Jordan Dyck

British Columbia has tens of thousands of kilometres of coastline, plus thousands of inland lakes and rivers. For water lovers, this means a huge number of beaches, islands, and inlets to explore. And whether your perfect day by the water means lying in the soft sand or peering into rocky tidepools, BC has you covered. This spring or summer, grab a towel and some sunscreen and visit a new-to-you beach.

Vancouver Island Beaches

Crystal clear blue water stretches to the horizon over soft sand with a few visible rocks
Tribune Bay | @ainsleywest1

Tribune Bay

If you thought clear blue seas were only found in tropical destinations, think again. Tribune Bay on Hornby Island is home to soft sand and shallow, temperate waters perfect for swimming. Getting to remote Hornby, accessible via BC Ferries, is part of the adventure.

Visit Hornby
View of a beach low tide with a tree trunk in the foreground and shallow tidepools behind
Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park | @tighnamara

Rathtrevor Beach

The flat sand at Parksville’s popular Rathtrevor Beach stretches out as far as the eye can see at low tide, creating plenty of tide pools safe for little ones. Add a shady campground with hiking and biking trails, and you have an unforgettable family getaway.

Visit Parksville
Aerial view of the coastline with waves breaking on a long, sandy beach. Trees are in the foreground, mountains in the distance.
Cox Bay, Tofino | Jordan Dyck

Tofino Beaches

The pristine coastline along Vancouver Island’s west side is the stuff of dreams. Seemingly endless beaches are backed by thick temperate rainforest on one side and the open ocean on the other. The surfing here is legendary, and the sunsets are spectacular.

Visit Tofino
A person walks along the beach in San Josef Bay in Cape Scott Provincial Park
San Josef Bay | Shayd Johnson

San Josef Bay

Part of Cape Scott Provincial Park on the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island, near Port Hardy, San Josef Bay is a secluded spot made for adventurers. The bay is accessible only on foot, or by boat or helicopter, so there’s a good chance you’ll have it all to yourself.

Visit Port Hardy

Vancouver Beaches

Dozens of people sit and stand on a beach, many leaning up against big logs sitting in the sand. A row of trees and three highrise buildings sit behind the beach.
English Bay Beach | Destination Vancouver/Tanya Goehring

English Bay Beach

This popular beach in downtown Vancouver sits outside the city’s iconic Stanley Park. In addition to the usual sunbathing and swimming, kayaking and beach volleyball are popular here with busy shops and restaurants just steps away.

Visit English Bay
Twenty or so people swim in an aqua-coloured pool overlooking the darker blue of the ocean. The mountains and downtown Vancouver can be seen across the bay.
Kitsilano Beach Pool | @courteneymichelle

Kitsilano Beach

Kitsilano Beach Park features sandy beaches, a large grassy play area, tennis courts, basketball courts, a fully accessible playground, and a huge outdoor heated saltwater pool, all with views of the downtown Vancouver skyline and the North Shore Mountains.

Visit Kitsilano
The tide is out and the wet sand stretches into the distance. There are fluffy white clouds in the light blue sky with a forested outcropping on the right side of the frame.
Wreck Beach | @clemi.v

Wreck Beach

Located next to the University of British Columbia campus near downtown Vancouver, Wreck Beach is one of several popular urban beaches in the city. What makes Wreck unique? It is North America’s largest clothing-optional beach.

Visit Wreck Beach

Okanagan Beaches

A person stands on a paddleboard in the foreground with half a dozen or so other paddleboarders in the distance. The sun is bright against the blue sky.

Kalamalka Lake

This warm lake in Vernon is as popular with photographers as it is with swimmers and stand-up paddleboarders in the summer months. When the water warms up, it turns a remarkable blue-green colour, a result of limestone crystals that reflect the sunlight.

Visit Vernon
Aerial view of the Skaha Lake sandy shoreline surrounded by trees and grass and backed by forested mountains
Skaha Lake | Melissa Barnes

Penticton Beaches

Situated between Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake, Penticton has no shortage of waterfront. The soft sand of Okanagan Lake is popular for sunbathing and watersports, Skaha is a little quieter, offering respite from the sun under a row of shade trees.

Visit Penticton
A woman faces the camera, talking to a tour group and leading a cultural tour. A couple watches and listens.
Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre | Hubert Kang

sẁiẁs (Haynes Point)

Operated by the Osoyoos Indian Band, sẁiẁs Provincial Park (Haynes Point) sits on a peninsula that extends into one of the warmest lakes in the province. Learn about local Indigenous culture and the area’s unique desert ecosystem.

Visit Osoyoos
A small motorboat travels across the lake with a thickly forested mountain behind and a few houses nestled amongst the trees along the shoreline. The sky is cloudy and pink as sunset approaches
Christine Lake | Thompson Okanagan/Allen Jones

Christina Lake

Located close to the Canada/US border near Grand Forks, Christina Lake sits along the Trans Canada Trail. The beaches on the southern end of this warm lake are popular for swimming and with those who enjoy water sports.

Visit Christina Lake

Northern British Columbia

Looking down from a high vantage point over a lush temperate forest on the left side of the frame, and waves rolling onto a long, curving beach into the distance
View of Agate Beach from Tow Hill | Grant Harder

Agate Beach

One of BC’s most stunning and remote beaches, Agate Beach extends along the rugged coast of northern Haida Gwaii in Naikoon Provincial Park. Keep an eye out here for wildlife and surfers as you gaze out toward the open ocean.

Visit Haida Gwaii

Originally published in August, 2015.

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