We’ve rounded up some of the best British Columbia beaches to visit with your family for your summer vacation. We believe that summers are special, sacred even and that you should never have to spend one minute of your precious summertime on an inferior beach.
Considering how many beaches there are in Canada, whittling them down was no easy task! But we’ve picked our favourites based on what facilities they offer, how family-friendly, how accessible, and of course how beautiful they are.
We’ve got ocean beaches, lake beaches, sandy beaches, remote beaches and town centre beaches. A little bit of everything to help you decide where best to spend your sun-soaked days.
You’ll also find links to accommodation at all the best beaches in BC to help make booking your vacation that much easier.
What You'll Find in This Post
- Map of British Columbia Beaches
- Ocean Beaches on Vancouver Island
- Vancouver Beaches & Southern Mainland Beaches
- Lake Beaches in BC
- BC Travel Tips
Map of British Columbia Beaches
Ocean Beaches on Vancouver Island
You can’t throw a stone on Vancouver Island without finding a beach worth spending the day on. Whether on the wild west coast or the more chilled eastside, some of the best beaches in BC and Canada are located here. There are too many to choose from, really, but these are our top four beaches on Vancouver Island!
1. Chesterman Beach
The people of Tofino know a good beach when they see one, and Chesterman is one of their favourites. It’s a beauty and regularly gets named one of the 10 best beaches in Canada. With its unusual shape, like two crescents joined together by a spit of sand, this is almost two beaches in one. They’re referred to as North and South Beach to differentiate, although there’s little to choose between them for beauty.
A favourite surf spot, this is the place to get your kids booked into a surf school and learning to surf! But if they aren’t the surfer type, you can all enjoy the vast curving stretches of pale sand with their dramatic backdrop of forests and mountains. Explore tide pools, fly kites, walk out along the spit of sand to climb Frank Island, or have a go at paddleboarding or kayaking in the surf. And keep your eyes on the horizon; you can sometimes spot humpback and grey whales along this coast.
There’s parking at both North and South Chesterman Beach, washrooms, and surf showers are also available. There aren’t any shops or cafes along the beach though, so stock up for the day in nearby Tofino.
Best For: Surfers, surf watchers, beachcombers and sandcastle builders.
Budget: Ecolodge – Tofino | Mid-Range: Sienna’s Tree House (Tall Trees And Salty Breeze) | Luxury: Middle Beach Lodge
Tofino is a tourist favourite and always in demand. Accommodation tends to be pricey, and it books up fast! Reserve your bed early to avoid disappointment.
2. Mackenzie Beach
This sheltered little beach is a family favourite for the Tofino area. Unusual for this surf-mad region, this beach has pretty calm waters. Sheltered by arms of rock, the sea here is swell-free and free of the dangerous currents and rips that make nearby Long Beach unsuitable for swimming. This one is perfect for paddleboarding, swimming and little ones to paddle in.
If you don’t fancy swimming, explore the wide sandy stretch and search the tide pools for sand dollars and other treasures. Build sandcastles and explore the craggy tidal boulders in the bay.
There is parking and a beach access ramp available from Hellesen Drive. The access is easy and stroller friendly, and beach showers and toilets are located there also. Head to the southern end of the beach for the most shelter.
Best For: Families looking for calm waters near Tofino.
Budget: Mackenzie Beach Resort | Mid-Range: Ocean Village | Luxury: Middle Beach Lodge
3. Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park
One of the favourite vacation destinations on Vancouver Island, Rathtrevor beach had to be on our list. Located on the east coast of the island, where the beaches are less wild than those on the rugged west coast, it’s a real winner for families.
It is the water that makes Rathtrevor such a favourite. First, because when the tide goes out, it retreats almost a kilometre leaving behind a wide-open stretch of tidepool-covered sand. Secondly, when it returns, it remains shallow and is some of the warmest ocean water in Canada. Perfect for splashing and paddling in.
Shady campsites abound amongst the park’s old-growth forest. Amenities are provided at the campgrounds and at a day-use picnic ground too. You’ll find a picnic area, a playground, hiking and biking trails, fresh water and toilet blocks. However, if you’re going to chase the water down to the low tide mark, you might want to carry enough water and food for the day; it can be a long walk back!
Best For: Shallows swimmers, tide pool explores and warm-water lovers.
Budget: Paradise Seashell Motel | Mid-Range: Pacific Shores Resort & Spa | Luxury: Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort
There are plenty of accommodation options dotted around the Provincial Park. But if you stay in nearby Parksville, you’ll have the benefit of being close to two more of British Columbia’s best child-friendly beaches, Parksville and Qualicum. You can also Camp in Rathtrevor Provincial Park.
4. San Josef Bay Beach
Located within the remote Cape Scott Provincial Park on the northwest point of Vancouver Island, this beach is for the adventurers among you. Rugged terrain, thick forests, incredible rock formations and miles of the most unspoilt, white-sand beaches in BC. If you’re happy to travel, this one is worth the trip.
Even driving to the park is an adventure as it is located along a rough logging road, so make sure your vehicle can take it. Once you reach the park, you must park up because cars are not allowed inside. Access to some of the most remote and beautiful beaches in Canada is by hiking trails of various lengths and difficulties – some of them requiring overnight camping stays. If you’ve got older children, then that’s an option. But families with younger children, and those pressed for time, will want to head to San Josef Bay. This one is located only 2.5km from the car park, and the path is well maintained and stroller friendly.
The path will take you through some beautiful old-growth rainforest past massive Sitka Spruces. Once you reach the beach, you’ll be rewarded with a sheltered bay enclosed by arms of thickly forested rock. Explore the beach at low tide to view fern-fringed sea caves and the many rock formations unique to Cape Scott.
Best For: Families with adventurous, nature-loving children who love visiting remote places.
Budget: Airport Inn | Mid-Range: Pioneer Inn by the River | Luxury: Kwa’lilas Hotel or The Quarterdeck Inn & Marina Resort
Due to the remote nature of Cape Scott Provincial Park, most accommodation is a 2-hour drive away in Port Hardy. The town is in a beautiful location and is also a popular tourist destination.
Camping is allowed on the beach and is popular on weekends and holidays. Outhouses are provided, as are food lockers because bears and wolves do live in the area. There is no freshwater, however, so you will need to carry your own. Or, and we recommend this if you can, camp on the sand at San Josef Bay for a backcountry camping fee.
Vancouver Beaches & Southern Mainland Beaches
5. Spanish Banks Beaches
Just 8km south of Vancouver, this beach is perfect for families seeking a city getaway. There are several beaches in Vancouver, BC, but we’ve chosen Spanish Banks for the variety it offers. With three beaches rolled into one, there’s something for everyone here.
Perfect for families, these beaches have acres of soft sand that only get bigger as the tide goes out. When it returns, the seawater remains shallow and perfect for toddlers. These well-organized beaches offer volley-ball courts, kiteboarding, designated quiet spaces, dog-friendly zones, bbq and picnic areas, washrooms and lifeguards throughout peak season.
Take a stroll along Vancouver’s famous Seawall, which skirts the length of these beaches. Get ice cream or a hot dog from one of the beachside stalls, or just chill out on the sand and enjoy a first-class view of the Vancouver skyline.
Best For: A brilliant beach day close to Vancouver, BC.
Budget: HI-Vancouver Jericho Beach | Mid-Range: Carey Centre | Luxury: Ponderosa Studios
Close to downtown Vancouver, Canada, you can have your pick of the city’s accommodation choices. But these are a couple of the closest options.
6. White Rock Bay Beach
Take the west coast as far south as you can go before you hit the US, and you’ll find yourself at White Rock. This pretty little town is perfect for those wanting a proper seaside vacation. The sandy beach is beautiful, the coastline stretches for miles, and the calm sea is ideal for swimmers and paddlers. Add to that the traditional fish and chip shop, and it’s absolutely idyllic.
White Rock benefits from the same shallow waters and super low tides as Rathtrevor and Spanish Banks. This gives you the same open expanse of sandy play area and warm water tidepools as those other beaches. But, what this beach has that they don’t, is a lengthy pier that follows the tide all the way out. Stretching a whopping 1540 feet, it is officially the longest pier in Canada. Grab an ice cream and walk along it to enjoy the view. Kids will enjoy jumping off it at high tide (if you let them), or they can try their hand at crab fishing off the end.
The beach is split into East and West Beach, separated by ‘the hump’ as the land in the middle is locally known. A stroller-friendly promenade offers beach access, washrooms, picnic areas and cafe stands. Both beaches enjoy easy access and wide-open sands, but East Beach tends to be a little quieter, especially in the summer months.
Best For: A proper seaside vacation.
Budget: Cozy Holiday Home | Mid-Range: Grace Guest House | Luxury: Ocean Promenade Hotel
These beaches are only 35km from Vancouver, Canada. So you could make a day trip of this if you want. If not, here’s some accommodation close to the beach!
Lake Beaches in BC
Part of the wonder of British Columbia is this choice we have between ocean and lake beaches. And with no shortage of stunning lakes dotted around this beautiful province, you’ve got a great selection of beaches to take your family to.
Staying down the south, let’s start with Osoyoos lake, which holds the title for warmest lake in Canada! This makes it a popular spot for waterskiers, wakeboarders, swimmers and everyone, really. What better place for a family beach day than a lake with toasty warm (well, an average of 24℃) water? This lake has some of the best beaches in lower mainland, BC. Here are our top picks.
7. Gyro Beach and Lions Park Beach
We’re going to cheat a little here and call these two beaches together. They are located next door to each other in downtown Osoyoos, are connected by a walkway and share the same facilities. So really you can get there and make your choice for the day.
Both have lovely stretches of sandy beach backed by a grassy park for those who don’t love lying on the sand. There are picnic tables, washrooms and plenty of shady trees. Gyro has a roped-off area for safe swimming and a floating dock for jumping off, and in the summer is the livelier of the two with live music events on the grass. Lions Park has a boat launch and a large children’s playground. Both have shallow water entry, sandy lake beds and benefit from the warmest lake water in Canada.
Their location in the town of Osoyoos means that shops, cafes and restaurants are only a short stroll away.
Best For: Beach days on the edge of town and sprinkle in a few winery visits.
Budget: Super 8 by Wyndham Osoyoos | Mid-Range: Avalon Inn | Luxury: Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Osoyoos, an IHG Hotel or Watermark Beach Resort
8. Cottonwood Park Beach
Over on the east side of Osoyoos Lake is Cottonwood. Locals take pride in this beach and have planted the surrounding area with colourful flower beds and gardens. They also designed it to be completely accessible, and all the walkways, paths and beach entry points are wheelchair and stroller-friendly. Washrooms and picnic areas are provided in the park, and there are several pubs and cafes on nearby Cottonwood Drive. All the amenities of Osoyoos town are a five-minute drive away.
While this beach shares the same warm water and shallow entry as Gyro and Lion beach, it has noticeably deeper, softer sand perfect for little diggers and sandcastle builders.
There is, unfortunately, a lack of shade in the peak summer months, so families with young children are warned to bring umbrellas or shade tents.
Best For: Easy stroller access and sandcastle builders.
Budget: Bella Villa Resort Motel | Mid-Range: Sahara Courtyard Inn Osoyoos or Best Western Plus Sunrise Inn | Luxury: Spirit Ridge, in The Unbound Collection by Hyatt
There are also many campsites in the area and Cabana Beach Campground is a good option.
9. Haynes Point Beach
This unusual beach, beloved by locals, sits on a thin spit of land that juts out 1km into Osoyoos lake. The provincial park has lakeside camping, hiking and biking trails and wetlands that delight birds and nature lovers alike. Both the day-use area and the campsites have picnic areas, boat launch, washrooms, drinking water and changing rooms.
The point doesn’t have the sandiest beaches since the shoreline is somewhat rocky. But the water is shallow and warm, and there are plenty of nature walks, bird watching points and boardwalks to keep your family on the move.
Best For: Nature-loving children and campers love this beach.
Budget: Boundary Motel | Mid-Range: Lakeview Motel & Suites | Luxury: Shiraz Villa
Camping at Haynes point is very popular and books up quickly, so book ahead to avoid missing out. Staying anywhere in the Osoyoos is is only a short drive to this beach. You can also Camp at Haynes Point if that is a better option for you.
Christina Lake Beaches
Moving east, inland to another contender for the title of warmest beach in BC. Christina Lake claims to be the warmest treelined lake in Canada, making us think Osoyoos has probably got them beat overall. But Christina is less well known and quieter than its more famous neighbour, so it is worth a visit regardless of temperature.
10. Christina Lake Provincial Park Beach
Those trees do make for some good shade around this pretty beach, and there’s over 300m of soft sandy beach to play on. The warm water is shallow to enter and perfect for young children. This one’s a favourite with families because of the extensive parking lots, washrooms, picnic tables, drinking water, and easy stroller and wheelchair access. The town of Christina Lake, has accommodation, cafes, shops and restaurants all within walking distance of the beach.
Sadly this is one provincial park beach that you can’t camp at, but there is park camping at Texas Creek Campground 10km away around the east side of the lake.
Best For: A lesser-known spot on a warm water lake.
Budget: Lakeview Motel or Christina Lake Motel and RV Park | Mid-Range: Lazy Dayz Cottage | Luxury: Brooks Lake House
A lot of accommodation around Christina lake is in lake houses and private villas, you may also want to check out Christina Lake VRBO for some accommodations.
North now to lovely Mara Lake, and the picturesque resort town of Sicamous. This is a beautiful region to vacation in, and also the houseboat capital of Canada. Make sure you stop at Shuswap lake to watch the houseboats cruising by.
11. Mara Lake Provincial Park Beach
A little spot this one, Mara Provincial Park, is only 5.9 hectares. However, what it lacks in size, it makes up for in scenic beauty; Mara Lake Beach is simply prettier than other beaches in this area. It has better water quality, pristine soft sand and a rock-free lake bed, which other beaches are missing. It also has the bonus of being away from towns and crowds.
Although there’s no camping here, you’ll still find washrooms, drinking water, picnic areas and parking. You’ll also find a boat launch because visitors to Mara Lake sure like their watersports. It’s a favourite for boating, fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding, wakeboarding and swimming. But if your kids are more land-dwellers, they won’t be disappointed. Besides the broad stretch of soft sand is a large grassy area, plenty of trees offering shade, and there are easy hiking trails through the small park.
This beach is easy to access and stroller-friendly. But the Mara Lake parking does fill up quickly in good weather and peak season, so arrive early!
Best For: Water sports and picnics at the most beautiful beach on the lake.
Budget: Pines Motel | Mid-Range: Super 8 by Wyndham Sicamous | Luxury: Best Western Sicamous Inn
If you don’t fancy getting your family onto a houseboat, accommodation is in the pretty, river and lakeside town of Sicamous. Or in Salmon Arm on the nearby Shuswap lake.
Looking for some other beaches in BC to check out. Here are a few more you can discover:
- Tribune Bay
- Snug Cove Bowen Island – Vancouver
- Roberts Creek Beach
- Britannia Beach British Columbia
- Pacfic Rim National Park beaches
- Fuca Provincial Park beaches
- Cox Bay Beach
Well, there we go. We hope this helps make your summer beach choices easier. But don’t just take our word for it; get out there, explore the beaches of BC and Canada and let us know which ones are your family’s favourites!
Wondering why we missed the Okanagan Beaches in this list? Well we created a post all on its own for the Best Okanagan Beaches to visit.
BC Travel Tips
- Ensure you rent a car well in advance since tourism is very busy in British Columbia during the summer months and you do not want to be disappointed.
- BC Ferries is how you will need to get over to the island, book your tickets in advance to reduce your wait time at the ferry.
- Ensure you have travel insurance if you are coming from out of the country. We use World Nomads for all international travel insurance.
- Don’t forget to print off a FREE beach packing list to make packing easier before your trip.
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