5 of B.C.’s best beach towns

Tofino was named best beach town in the West in the 2016 Sunset Travel Awards. One of the judges, Sunset magazine deputy editor Christine Ciarmello, noted, “Tofino’s beaches are top notch as is the town surrounding them. There’s great food, fresh grilled salmon at every turn, seaweed beer made locally, and quick access to hiking, kayaking and surfing. This is a Western gem.” Tofino was also named best surf town in North America in Outside Magazine‘s 2010 Editors’ Choice awards.

White Rock
The Semiahmoo Peninsula, where White Rock is located, is ringed with sandy beaches. West Beach, in White Rock itself with its myriad shops and restaurants, quieter East Beach on the shore of Semiahmoo Park and charming Crescent Beach to the north. The White Rock Sea Festival, July 29 to 31, includes 50-plus exhibitors lining the promenade, Pirates in the Park for kids, fireworks and a torchlight parade.

With so much emphasis on Vancouver’s urban amenities, it’s easy to forget about its beaches, all along English Bay from Spanish Banks to Second and Third beaches in Stanley Park. Sunset Beach, on the edge of the city’s West End between Bute and Thurlow streets, is next to the seawall and a perfect spot to watch the Honda Celebration of Light. The last display is the U.S.A. on Saturday, July 30.

Located between two lakes—Okanagan and Skaha—Penticton has seven beaches stretching more than five kilometres. One of the coolest activities on a hot summer day is tubing on the Okanagan River channel between the two lakes. The long-time summer resort is also the centre of the growing Okanagan wine industry—and August 3 to 7 is the town’s 69th annual Peach Festival with a parade, sandcastle competition, Peach bin races and much, much more.

West Vancouver
Ambleside Beach, below West Van’s chi-chi Ambleside shopping area, can also be reached via a winding path through the forest behind the Park Royal mall. It has volleyball nets, a playground, a par-3 pitch and putt, an off-leash dog beach and views of Stanley Park and ships passing beneath the Lions Gate Bridge. The Harmony Arts Festival, which celebrates visual, culinary, literary and performing arts on the West Vancouver waterfront, runs from July 29 to August 7.