Located in the Canadian province of British Columbia, Vancouver Island is the largest island on the west coast of North America and is an amazing place to live and visit. From breath taking mountain views, lush green forests, beautiful lakes and gorgeous coastal beaches it’s no wonder why so many people love it here! The island offers an abundance of outdoor adventures that are great for camping, family outings and day trips. Whether your a tourist, traveller or born and raised on the island and looking for a new beach destination to check out, we have created a list of the Top 10 beaches on Vancouver Island. Tell us about your favourite beach location in the comment section below.
1. Willows Beach
Location: Oak Bay
Willows beach is great for families and is close to town! It is a beautiful white sandy beach with picnic facilities, change rooms & restrooms.
2. Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park
This regional park is a combination of both Elk and Beaver Lake! There are 2 separate beach areas, one on either side of the lake. Beaver Beach, at the south end of Beaver Lake, has a shallow, sandy beach — perfect for swimming, picnicking and canoeing around the offshore islands.
To the north, Elk Lake offers many recreational activities. At Eagle Beach, swim, picnic under the Pacific willow trees, launch your scull from the Rowing Center or start a hike south to Beaver Lake. There is a group picnic shelter at Eagle Beach near the Elk Lake Rowing Centre.
There is lots of parking, restrooms, picnic areas and trails for walking when you’re finished sunbathing/swimming. The lake is used cooperatively by swimmers, wind surfers, sailors, water-skiers, fishers and rowers. Some park trails are designated multi-use, for hikers, cyclists and horse riders, while others are for hiking only.
3. Thetis Lake Regional Park
Location: Six Mile Road in View Royal/Langford
The beach area of Thetis Lake is perfect for a family picnic or refreshing swim. If you have a canoe, try an early morning paddle and you may even have the lake all to yourself!
Go for a hike on the scenic trails hugging Upper and Lower Thetis lakes. For panoramic views of the lakes and surrounding hills, follow the more challenging trails up Seymour or Scafe hills. In spring, wildflowers dot the hillsides.
There are two large parking lots off Six Mile Road and an overflow parking area. The main beach has accessible toilets, fountain, change rooms, a beach and grassy picnic area. The second parking lot has a boat launch, toilet and beach and fishing area.
4. Spiral Beach
Location: Clover Point Park/Dallas Road
This beach consists of smooth round rocks and drift wood. Very popular place for walks, watching the wind surfers and sea life.
5. Esquimalt Lagoon
Esquimalt Lagoon features miles of breathtaking ocean beachfront with a view across to the City of Victoria at one end and the amazing snow capped peaks of the Olympic Mountains at the other. Fisgard Lighthouse completes the view. Beyond the lagoon sits the majestic Hatley Castle and its surrounding gardens and old growth forest, which are now home to Royal Roads University.
Across the road from the beach is the large, shallow lagoon enclosed within a sand spit and connected to the ocean by a tidal channel at the one end. It’s a favourite spot for birdwatchers and kayakers. People flock to the lagoon to see the wildlife, walk along the beach, picnic, beach comb, sun bathe on the sand, splash in the cool water, kayak and scuba dive.
#FunFact Esquimalt Lagoon is an important stopover for birds migrating on the Pacific Flyway, a “bird highway” between North and South America!
6. Gyro Park
Location: Cadboro Bay
Enjoy the beautiful view of Cadboro Bay, Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains. This is an oceanfront park with a sandy, log-strewn beach, picnic areas, playground & tennis courts, plus a boat launch. This park also has a beach-themed playground with a iconic giant octopus, salmon and sea serpent play sculptures.
This park also includes:
- A Zip-line.
- Washroom and water bottle filling station.
- Wheelchair accessible beach ramp (seasonal).
- Tennis courts.
6. Island View Beach Regional Park
Location: Island View Road in Central Saanich
This park offers an expansive beach along the eastern shore of the Saanich Peninsula, and excellent bird watching.
This park features:
- a long, sandy beach for exploring, picnicking and swimming
- beach, dune, wetland, and shrub ecosystems, home to numerous resident and migratory bird species, and many fragile plants
- bird watching along the shore and in the fields
- panoramic seascape views of Haro Strait, James Island and Mount Baker
- a loop trail offers an easy and scenic walk
- self-contained RV and tent campground
7. French Beach
Location: West coast of southern Vancouver Island
The park can be accessed via Hwy 14, 20 km west of Sooke. Directional signs are posted. The park is located approximately 11 km from Jordan River. The nearest communities/towns/cities are Sooke, Jordan River, Port Renfrew, and Victoria.
Situated on the scenic Strait of Juan de Fuca on the west coast of southern Vancouver Island, French Beach Provincial Park offers much more than just beautiful hiking trails through lush forests. A wide swatch of green lawn fronts this sand and pebble beach, where visitors can relax and enjoy a picnic or take a cool dip in the ocean.
8. China Beach
Location: China Beach, Juan de Fuca, BC
China Beach day-use area and China Beach Campground are two of four main areas that make up Juan de Fuca Provincial Park on the west coast of southern Vancouver Island. The park offers scenic beauty, spectacular hiking, marine and wildlife viewing and roaring surf in its course along the Pacific coastline of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. China Beach is a spectacular spot for family outings and day trips.
9. Long Beach
Location: Long Beach, Tofino
Long Beach is one of the longest beaches on Vancouver Island, spanning 16 km along the west coast of Vancouver Island. Described by locals to be magical, you will be astonished by the amount of life that call the tidal pools home. You will be sure to find crabs, shells, starfish, sea urchins and much more. As the surf comes crashing in, you will find surfers from around the world carving through the peaks of the waves. As the water settles, it gracefully rides up the beach with peaceful trickles and shimmering light from the breathtaking sunset crossing the colourful horizon. Long Beach is truly a rejuvenating getaway for all ages. Whether you’re looking to kickback, explore, adventure, hike, surf, or just take one of those long walks on the beach, Long Beach has it all.
10. Rathtrevor Beach
Majestic old-growth trees, beautiful ocean sunsets and an inviting, wide sandy beach with campsites nestled among Douglas fir trees makes Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park in Parksville, BC one of the premier vacation destinations on Vancouver Island.
At low tide the ocean recedes almost a kilometer, providing an ideal place for visitors of all ages to play in the sand and explore the shoreline. When the tide rolls in over the sun-baked sand, the warmed water is unbeatable for swimming and salt water fun.
Rathtrevor Beach is ideal for a relaxed family outing. Simply sit back and soak up the seaside atmosphere or take a walk through the wooded upland area of the park. All campsites are within a 5-minute walk to the 2 km stretch of sandy beach. The park also features a large day-use area, perfect for an afternoon picnic.
What is your favourite beach on Vancouver Island? Let us know in the comment section below!