Vancouver Island Urban Beaches
Vancouver Island is the land of the world's most exceptional beaches. In fact, Vancouver Island beaches have consistantly been voted some of the world's best in many an independent poll. Many of them are part of our rugged wilderness coastline and accessible by only the most determined. Others are located in Provincial Parks and resort areas that provide clear access to our beachfront.
A most wonderful thing about Island life is our ability to walk or cycle from home and in minutes be resting or exploring the urban beach down the street.
The following are our favorite urban beaches of 2014.
Our Favorite Urban Beaches of 2014
Willows Beach is a popular swimming beach located in Oak Bay and is considered a developed waterfront park with the convenience of change rooms, washrooms, grassy areas and a child’s playground. There is also a seasonal concession in the Willow Tea Room for your enjoyment.
The great views and lovely beach make this a terrific place to visit. Leashed dogs are allowed year round on the trails and grassy spots. From October 1 - April 30 they can be off lead on the beach. However dogs must stay off most Vancouver Island beaches from May 1 to September 30.
The Dallas Road Waterfront is one of my favorite places to visit. I love the vistas, the storm watching and the people that use this amazing area to walk, play and run. Dallas Beach is below the excellent walking trails, open fields and stands of Garry Oak that make this area so popular.
This is a great beach with sandy and rocky parts and awesome logs to sit on or up against during your visit. As we go into our stormy season you need to remember that logs can shift in stormy weather so watch the fury from a safe distance.
Island View Beach
If you’re a birder, this is a great beach for you. This expansive beach located on the eastern shore of the Saanich Peninsula is home to numerous birds both resident and migratory. The dunes, wetlands, beach and the entire eco system make this a beautiful place to come and explore.
Swimming, exploring, picnicking and walking the beautiful trails is a great reason to visit. Be sure to take advantage of the self contained RV and Tenting campground which operates May-September and has 18 beach front RV sites, 5 treed tent trailer sites and 24 treed tent sites. The Regional District asks that you stay on trails and keep dogs on leash to help protect this sensitive area.
Following Hammond Bay Road north of Departure Bay you will encounter a sign for Pipers Lagoon. From the ample parking lot you will walk along what appears to be a dyke separating the Salish Sea on the right from a tidal lagoon on the left. This level walking path provides easy access for all until reaching a large rock outcropping that can be clambered over by most. On the other side of the outcropping there is a point of land that appears as if an island. A clear trail winds its way around its perimeter past shack island and back from whence you began. The wild flowers in the spring and the constant appearance of eagles and marine mammals make Pipers one of our favorites urban beaches.
This truly fantastic park sits below Ladysmith on the shore of their protected Harbour. It’s tucked away and can’t be seen from Hwy 19, so be sure to watch for the signs. You’ll also find The Ladysmith Amphitheatre that plays host to a wide range of events and concerts .
The park itself offers room to roam and the gardens, huge trees, shoreline, picnic areas and long swaths of grass make it a great choice for family picnics. The beach is safe for little ones who want to explore and during the summer has a roped off swimming area. You'll also find the play areas were thoughtfully built with one for the little folks and another for the bigger kids.
This spit of land juts out to protect Sooke Basin from the open waters of Juan de Fuca Strait.
We wandered out along the level, crushed stone path to the lighthouse on the point. It took us about 30 minutes as there are well placed wooden benches that provide an opportunity to sit back and enjoy. The views are quite different from the wild Jaun de Fuca to the tranquil Sooke Basin.
When we come here next I'll be bringing a picnic to extend our time in this natural splendor.
This Parksville beach is probably the best known on the Island. Vast expanses of sand at low tide provide a natural playground for young and old alike. I love watching the children as they search about for treasures at their feet, the purple shell, the white sand dollar, the dry crab claw; all are placed in colourful buckets to be brought back and shared.
The incoming tide floods over warm sand raising the water temperature to the delight of every swimmer. The last time we visited we found the washrooms to be some of the cleanest anywhere. This is a great place for a relaxed family outing year round.
When heading north on Hwy19 we usually detour into Parksville and follow the coastal road north to Qualicum Beach. This 2 lane ribbon of happiness follows the coastline as best as it can and wanders through some beautiful Island topography. North of Parksville you descend to drive directly beside the beach. Accommodation lines this strip of road as does the Beach Hut for ice cream and further on to the Shady Rest Pub where one can find a cold beverage and above average food.
If you are here in the evening you can watch the cruise ships heading for Alaska as they twinkle past on the distant horizon.