Kitsilano Beach is one of the most favored places to visit in Vancouver. The water is calm and great for lounging on the sand, so it gets pretty busy during the summer months. It can be accessed by car, foot, or public transit (bus, subway, or taxi).
Also known as “Kits” Beach, this landmark hosts the country’s lengthiest swimming pool. The Kitsilano Pool is open every summer from May until September and has a salt-water outdoor feel.
Kits Beach is a perfect beach for your next excursion. It offers a variety of things to do, from swimming or water sports to sunbathing and beach-side jogging. Plus, they have stunning views of the mountains, so the best parts are all here.
Brief history of Kitsilano Beach
The Beach was established in 1901 as part of a city park system. They cleared the area, then graded and seeded it. This beach was cleared of any small rocks or driftwood that might get in the way of picnics and other activities, after which they opened it up for people to enjoy.
The locals have been calling the waterfront “Greer’s Beach,” in honor of Sam Greer who lived on 160 acres there and farmed from 1882.
The settler was displaced from his home when the government granted Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) the land. The rail agency decided to sell instead of redeveloping it. This decision was made due to high costs and unfavorable economic factors.
The B.C. Electric Railway Company later made a deal with CPR to run trams from downtown Vancouver to “Kitsilano” Beach, or Greer’s Beach.
The railway agency introduced the name “Kitsilano” in 1905 for advertising related to the real estate, and campsites were later advertised there.
After a year, the company that managed the beach’s facilities for CPR announced plans for a baseball field and a dock for a small ferry to run to their new Jericho-based private club.
The City of Vancouver has been acquiring bits and pieces of land on the public beach park since 1909 – it had to do this for over several years.
The old bathhouse has been replaced by the new, modern building which includes the Watermark restaurant. It boasts expansive views of not just the beach but also English Bay, providing an intimate dining experience.
The Vancouver Park Board now manages the landmark, plus the Watermark building was sold to The Boathouse restaurant franchise recently.
Getting to Kitsilano Beach
While the Seawall is situated along the Beach with the Pool on the west side, the beach is located on Cornwall Ave at the north end of Yew St. It’s located at the North edge of Kitsilano, near English Bay.
Vancouver to Kitsilano Beach is 4 kilometers and the cheapest way to get there is by taking Bus 084 at $3, which takes 9 minutes. Taking a taxi costs $11-14 and takes 2 minutes less.
Heading to Westbound W 4th Ave Vine St, you can take a direct bus from Olympic Village Station Bay 1. The bus operates every day, on a half-hour basis. It takes about 9 minutes for this journey.
What can you do at the Beach?
This is one of the most popular and well-known beaches in Vancouver, providing fantastic views of all of its surroundings including downtown Vancouver.
Surrounded by a natural setting and a multitude of restaurants and activities, Kitsilano Beach is the ideal Canadian beach experience. You can also enjoy views of the North Shore Mountains and Burrard Inlet.
With its fair share of long walks on the beach, beautiful people, and plenty of room to enjoy both your surroundings and some quality time with friends, it’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon or evening.
2. Swimming and co.
One of the favourite things to do at Kitsilano Beach is swimming in the Pacific Ocean. There are even certain sections you can swim in only, so you don’t have to worry about colliding with kayaks or boats.
No matter what style you swim in – backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly – the stunning views of Vancouver and the mountains around it ensure that your swim will be a memorable experience.
If you can’t be around the ocean, then swimming at Kitsilano Pool might be a good alternative. It boasts impressive views and a saltwater pool, but it’s still quite a swim from the ocean.
Feel free to indulge in standup paddling, skimboarding, kiteboarding, windsurfing, etc.
3. Sports, exercise, and alternate mobility
If you’re looking for a great way to get around the region, cycling should be your go-to. There are a lot of bike rental stations scattered all over Vancouver – some that offer private rentals or guided tours.
By starting at Kits Beach, visitors cycle across the vogue Kitsilano quarter to False Creek or Granville Island. You get to stay active and enjoy some sightseeing.
If you’re the type who enjoys water sports, the Beach offers loads of different activities – ranging from water aerobics to kayaking.
A true Vancouverite spends time exploring by kayak or paddleboard, so give these a try when you visit Kits. You could also try playing sports like tennis, basketball, or hockey (floor, ball, and field).
You’ll see a playground and several beach volleyball courts toward the northern end of Kits Beach, which provides a great opportunity for games that are fun for the whole family.
Vancouver is known for its close relationship with the ocean, so history lovers should visit the Vancouver Maritime Museum at the beach.
The Museum has many permanent exhibits, including The Avenger Of The People and Arnold’s 176 chronometers. It was used by George Vancouver when he explored the west coast of the North American continent.
Here, the flagship dining spot is Boathouse Restaurant. Make a reservation at the restaurant by giving them a call before you go. Their wine and seafood are sourced locally from British Columbia, which only makes the ocean views that much better.
The perfectly crispy calamari or the spicy yam fries are excellent appetizers, but if you want to treat yourself, it has to be the grilled fish options. With potatoes and vegetables, it’s a dish that tastes as good as it looks.
6. More points of interest
Aside from the above, a lot of restaurants and attractions are nearby the Beach – including Stanley Park, Sunset Grill, the Liberty Distillery, Vine & Hops, Granville Island, Nook, the Boathouse Restaurant, Bishop’s, Vancouver Maritime Museum, and Local Public Eatery.
7. Shakespeare Festival
Every year, there is a renowned Shakespeare festival near Kitsilano Beach. This festival is the largest of its kind in Canada and incorporates both performances, as well as workshops, to foster creativity.
Christopher Gaze, the artistic director of Bard on the Beach, is very dedicated and ensures quality assurance of his theatre company’s performance.
How does parking work at the Beach?
There’s a nearby park which is a nice place to go for walks or sit on winter days. For those who prefer not to walk, the park is very accessible on roads, bus routes, and by biking.
The paid parking lot is being managed by EasyPark and is effective from 6 am to 10 pm. From May 1 to September 30, you’ll be charged $3.70 per hour or $14.50 for the whole day. They beat the prices to $2.65 (hourly) and $7.25 (daily) from October 1 to April 30.
Important Details to Remember
- You cannot park your car overnight in the lot.
- The Beach’s summer experience is different from its winter counterpart, but it’s still worth a visit in December.
- Dogs are allowed, as long as you take full responsibility and have a valid license for your dog. You have access to tons of Vancouver’s off-leash areas and parks.