Can You Swim In Vancouver Beaches? disclaimer & privacy policy

Can you swim in Vancouver beaches? Let’s find out!

Undoubtedly, Vancouver is known for its stunning natural surroundings, with mountains above and the Pacific Ocean below.

Being born and raised in Vancouver, I can tell you we have many beaches, so I understand that many people would love to swim in the ocean – I love swimming in the ocean myself. However, in my honest opinion, swimming in Vancouver is a subject of debate.

Can You Swim In Vancouver Beaches

While you can swim in Vancouver beaches, as a local, in my personal and honest opinion, I recommend not swimming in Vancouver’s beaches. It will also be freezing cold if you swim in the ocean.

The number one reason I would not recommend swimming at the beaches is the constant flow of large ships that travel through or sit in the Burrard Inlet for days. It is a large open area, but it is also somewhat enclosed.

Can you swim in Vancouver beaches? Swimming in Vancouver is a subject of debate.

To put it into perspective, I would rather swim in the ocean when I am on Vancouver Island compared to being close to an active harbour like in Vancouver.

But if that does not bug you, then by all means, go for a swim. But locals know that swimming in the ocean does not feel the cleanest, at least in Vancouver. I also did not and still do not see many locals swimming in the ocean growing up in Vancouver.

However, you can still enjoy a day at the beach, and some of Vancouver’s beaches are in some of the best sunset spots.

In addition, as an alternative suggestion, instead of swimming in the ocean in Vancouver, many locals like to swim in lakes or outdoor pools at a couple of the beaches in Vancouver.

Third Beach located in Stanley Park is one of Vancouver's main beaches you could potentially swim at.

Ocean Swimming Alternatives In Vancouver

Here are the alternative locations where locals tend to swim in Vancouver. These locations are the closest to the lower mainland. Outdoor pools are generally open only during the summer.

Kitsilano Pool

Kitsilano Outdoor Pool, known as “Kits Pool,” offers a simple and relaxing swim experience by Kitsilano Beach. Situated on the bay, it is a heated 137-foot saltwater pool with the surrounding area perfect for lounging and enjoying stunning views.

Second Beach Pool

Located on the Southend of Stanley Park, Second Beach Pool is a popular outdoor pool for locals and families in Vancouver. This large pool provides a fantastic escape on warm days, surrounded by natural beauty.

Lakes Suggestions

Here are some lake suggestions to swim in around the city. Vancouver has many surrounding lakes that are clean to swim in and are close to the city or less than a two-hour drive away.

Some lakes will or may have an undertow if you go out of bounds while swimming.

Lynn Canyon

Tucked away in the heart of Lynn Canyon, the 30-foot pool stands as a popular fresh waterhole. During the summer, it offers a refreshing escape surrounded by the quiet beauty of the forest. The water does get colder the longer you stay in, as it is fed by glacial water.

The 30-foot pool derives its name from the waterfall that falls further upstream. Large rocks surround the area, so there is no flat area to sit on. It is pretty quiet during winter, but the area is packed come summer, so keep that in mind if you plan on swimming here.

Lynn Canyon's 30-foot pool is a popular local waterhole during the summer in Vancouver.

Sasamat Lake

Located in Belcarra Regional Park, Sasamat Lake is a peaceful lake near Vancouver. With calm waters and scenic views, the lake is famous for outdoor activities like kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing, and swimming.

White Pine Beach, with two sandy beach spots, is one of the region’s most popular lake beaches in the summer. It is also one of the warmest bodies of freshwater near Vancouver.

Moreover, because it is one of the region’s most popular spots, there is a high demand to visit the lake, so the park rangers will close the parking lot when there is no parking left.

Buntzen Lake

Buntzen Lake is a picturesque location surrounded by nature. The lake offers clear waters an hour’s drive from Vancouver. It is a favourite spot for various activities on the water, picnics, or hiking on the nearby trails.

With a history dating back to the early 1900s, the lake holds a special place as both a reservoir and a local destination where the beauty of nature and outdoor recreation can be enjoyed.

Due to the water being controlled by the hydroelectric facilities, water flow can change without warning and cause underwater and surface currents. Keep within the designated swimming areas and always watch children.

Alouette Lake (Golden Ears Park)

Located in Golden Ears Provincial Park, Alouette Lake is a fantastic and popular spot for outdoor recreation. Surrounded by forests, the lake offers a scenic backdrop for various water activities like kayaking, swimming, and fishing.

While I have experienced swimming in Alouette Lake in the summer, the water is crisp and cold but refreshing.

The park features well-maintained beaches for relaxation and hiking trails to explore the surrounding area. Camping facilities along the lake provide an opportunity for a more extended stay.

Alouette Lake is a fresh and clean lake located in Golden Ears Provincal Park.

Cultus Lake

Cultus Lake is one of the top locations where many locals like to go during the summer. The lake provides fresh and clean waters, ideal for swimming, paddleboarding, kayaking and more.

For those looking for something other than being at a lake, the Cultus Lake Waterpark provides fun activities for children and families to slide down waterslides.

While I have swam at Cultus Lake a handful of times, the lake does have an undercurrent further out. So wear a life jacket if you plan to leave the designated swim area.

Cultus Lake is an excellent place to swim less than two hours away from Vancouver.

Harrison Lake (Harrison Hot Springs)

The last location, less than two hours away from the city, is Harrison Hot Springs. The small village is located South of Harrison Lake, where you can partake in many water activities, such as the Harrison Inflatable Water Park.

As a bonus, there are natural hot springs on the east side of the lake. However, it will be too hot for a whole body to submerge, but you can dip your feet in the water.

Harrison Hot Springs is another excellent location to swim outside of Vancouver.

New Year’s Day Tradition

Vancouver did adopt the Polar Bear Swim tradition (not really a swim, more like a plunge), where hundreds of people gather at English Bay Beach on New Year’s Day to throw themselves into the freezing cold ocean.

Swimming In Vancouver Beaches – FAQs

Here are frequently asked questions about swimming in Vancouver beaches.

Is Vancouver Water Safe To Swim?

Generally speaking, yes, Vancouver’s water is safe to swim in. Most Vancouver beaches have no designated swim distance, so be cautious about how far you swim and watch out for dropoffs.

If you are wondering about water regulations, Vancouver Coastal Health and others responsible for looking after Vancouver’s beaches regularly monitor the quality and safety of the beaches.

And suppose you are wondering about animals that may be in the ocean near Vancouver beaches. In that case, there are no dangerous animals that will harm you.

Which Beach Is Best For Swimming In Vancouver?

If I had to pick the best beach for swimming in Vancouver, it would have to be Spanish Banks, but also Locarno or Jericho, mainly because they are all further away from the city.

Can You Swim In Vancouver In Summer?

Yes, you can swim in Vancouver in the summer; it is the best time of year to do so. The Pacific Ocean temperature slightly changes but will always be cold.

How Many Beaches Does Vancouver Have?

Vancouver has eight main beaches.

  • Spanish Banks
  • Locarno
  • Jericho
  • English Bay
  • Kitsilano Beach
  • Sunset Beach
  • Third Beach
  • Second Beach

Conclusion: Can You Swim In Vancouver Beaches

As you can see, while you can swim in Vancouver beaches, from a local’s perspective, it is not recommended. But there are plenty of other local hot spots for swimming during the summer. Either way, you can still enjoy a day at one of Vancouver’s beaches because the views will always be stunning.

Have a good day 🙂