A Tour of Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver, British Columbia
Kitsilano Beach is my favourite beach in Vancouver and this is amongst
many options: There’s the seemingly endless stretch of beach at Jericho
and Locarno Beaches, west of Kits Beach. There are the 1st and
2nd Beaches in the West End, which are connected to Stanley Park and,
of course, there’s Wreck Beach near the University of British Columbia,
which is exciting in its clothing optional nature.
But Kits Beach has a few nooks that the average traveller may not know
about. The entire Kits Beach Park covers more space than just the
main beach area in front of the fancy new concession stand. About
three years ago the aging, crumbling building that housed the
lifeguards, the concession stand and one of the smelliest men’s
washrooms in the world was torn down and replaced with an updated
version. On the top level is an upscale restaurant called
Watermark. If you have the money, have dinner at the Watermark at
sunset while looking west toward Vancouver Island. Instant romance if
you have a date. (Budget travellers should be aware this is not a
To start a proper survey of Kits Beach, I suggest that you start at the
east end. If you are taking the bus, the Number 22 bus from the
Burrard Skytrain station will let you off at Cornwall and
Cypress. That corner has a mini mall with a good bagel place
(Siegel’s Bagels), a Starbucks and a White Spot burger/fries
Walk north (towards the mountains) down Cypress.
Turn right at Greer and the left at Chestnut Street. You will see
a big field which is connected to the Academy of Music and the
Vancouver Museum. Stay on the sidewalk and head down to the water.
You will be in the parking lot for the Maritime Museum and see a small
dock. It has some vintage ships connected to the Maritime Museum
and has these cute blue bathtub shaped boats that will take you, for a
fee, to English Bay or to Granville Island. I recommend that
after exploring Kits Beach, you head to Granville Island for lunch,
particularly at the Granville Island Market, which has fresh veggies,
fruit and all kinds of other goodies.
There’s an interesting place to stay that this little ferry boat can
take you. It’s called 910 Beach Condominium at Hornby St. and
Beach Ave. It has suites that you book like a hotel and, for
budget travellers, it’s got small kitchens for you to prepare your own
food. The False Creek Ferries (these are the cute bathtub shaped
puddle jumpers) will take you to the Aquatic Centre, which is walking
distance from 910 Beach Condominium. A full list of Vancouver
accommodations can be found at www.TravelInBC.com/Vancouver.cfm.
There’s a gravel path at the end of the parking lot. Take it and
bear to your left and head down, past the museum (there’s a white and
yellow submarine in front) and you will find the first part of what I
consider Kits Beach: the doggy beach. This area is an off
leash area that dog owners use to work out their dogs. It’s a ton
of fun to watch the dogs plow into the ocean, go for sticks, socialize
with other dogs.
You have two choices to get to the main Kits Beach area at this
point. Assuming the weather is nice, I like to stay on the beach
and walk under the stand of trees. The other option is to head up
a flight of stairs to a walking path that gives you a higher view
across English Bay and Stanley Park.
If it’s high tide, you’ll have to be careful where you step when you
take the beach route. There are a couple of peaceful places to
sit under the trees. On many occasions I’ve seen folks writing in
their journal while enjoying the view. If you have the time, I
recommend sitting and pausing for a moment.
As you step over rocks and sand, you will curve around to the main
beach. The north end of the beach is usually open for you to
throw down a blanket and catch some sun. Please make sure to wear
the usual sun screen and hats and so forth. You will see lots of
logs lying around that are wonderful to use as a wind break. As
you proceed north, there are often people playing beach
volleyball. If you come up off the beach you will see a
basketball court, children’s playground, and then you will get to the
concession stand and life guard station.
As boring as this might sound, I find sitting on a blanket watching the
ocean and reading a book (preferably mindless stuff, not tricky
technical books or literature) one of the best uses of Kits Beach.
Lots of people swim in the ocean and there are outdoor showers to rinse
off the salt. Oddly there’s a massively long pool attached to the
beach. It’s 137 m (150 yards) long. It is heated, but not
that much, and it a wonderful spot to hang out on a summer’s day.
The pool is open mid-May to early September. There is a swimming
lane that the serious swimmers use and there’s a very child friendly
area. Check http://vancouver.ca/parks/rec/pools/index.htm#outdoor
Now, if you want a less fussy concession stand, there’s another one
behind Kits Pool. (I’m an old fashioned hot dog, fish & chips
and fries kind of guy.)
One last treat to Kits Beach is a hidden walking path to the west of
the pool. If you look at the last picture in this article, which
gives you a great view of the main Kits Beach, you need to go in the
exact opposite direction these ladies are walking. You need to
walk west, past the end of Kits pool and look for a path that takes you
past Kitsilano Yacht Club. This narrow path allows you to see
more scenery and look up (literally) at flashy houses on Point Grey
Road. Shortly the path will end and you will find
shoreline. Depending on the tides, you can continue along the
shore. (At really low tides, you can – if you don’t mind wet feet
– walk the shoreline far out and take the shoreline all the way to
UBC’s Wreck Beach.
However, I recommend taking the stairs up to Point Grey Road and head
back to the beach, admiring the homes. You will be back at Kits
Beach Park. If you are hungry, continue along and head to
Cornwall Ave. Yew Street has a variety of eating and drinking
establishments. It’s a good way to end a fine exploration of
Kitsilano Beach Park.