Surrounded by water and fantastic beaches, it’s easy to find places to swim and play around Vancouver for a fix of summer. English Bay is the most urban option with a large water slide and plentiful food options, Kits Beach is the most active option with volleyball nets, basketball and tennis courts. Second Beach wins the kids-choice award for its proximity to a public pool with water slides.
But sometimes you need to escape from the city. If you’re desperately seeking a quick hit of cottage country but only have a day to spare, we have the answer.
Get away from it all, including the salt water, by packing a cooler and heading to White Pine Beach on Sasamat Lake in Pitt Meadows. Located in Belcarra Regional Park, it’s hard to believe a lakeside experience can be found only 45-minute drive from Vancouver (No car? No problem—it’s also transit friendly). Bring a floatie so you can relax in the warmest lake in the Lower Mainland, and also bring a picnic with snacks and drinks—there is only a small concession with limited options on site, and no lifeguards.
Cultus Lake is like a camp and resort rolled into one—a good place to go for an injection of energy and summer vibe, not so great for solitude. People flock here for good reason—there’s something for everyone. From playing in the sand to renting a boat to screaming down watersides at the nearby Cultus Lake Water Park, the hour and a half drive from Vancouver may seem well worth it if you plan your day accordingly. Leave early, stay late, and you’ll avoid the worst of the traffic, which can be potentially horrendous.
So, you want the salt water experience but not the city? Drive south of Vancouver to Centennial Beach in Boundary Bay. With views of the San Juan Islands and tidal flats, it feels like you’re further than a 45-minute drive from Vancouver. Stroll through the bird sanctuary for a glimpse of marshland wildlife, or better yet bring your bikes to complete the 4km loop, perfect for young riders. There’s also a playground, and good seafood options at the Centennial Beach Cafe.
For a quainter ocean-side experience, head to the Village of Lions Bay in West Vancouver. The small town boasts three beaches, Brunswick Beach, Kelvin Grove Beach, and Lions Bay Beach, all with stunning Howe Sound views, but few amenities to attract the hordes. Lions Bay Beach gets our vote—there is a float to play on and plenty of green grass for a picnic if you want to avoid sandy sandwiches. Parking can be tricky—pay attention to signs posted, or you could be towed.
Sometimes, a day away can be more rejuvenating than a week. What are you waiting for?