Wreck Beach

British Columbia, Canada

Starfish Rating of 4

Claim to Fame

First “clothing optional” beach in Canada.

(click image to enlarge)
image courtesy of Kennymatic
  • Where is it?west of Vancouver proper, at Marine Drive and University Boulevard, next to the University of British Columbia campus, on the Strait of Georgia (Pacific Ocean)
  • Coordinates: latitude» 49.2611°
    longitude» -123.261°
  • Water Type: saltwater
  • Climate: cool/temperate
  • Development: smaller section of urban area in large city; this specific beach is close to urbanization, but the built-up areas are just beyond the beach
  • Length of Beach: 4.9m/7.8km
  • Type: rocky, beige/grey sand and pebbles
Current Weather

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Wreck Beach Day has happened every summer for more than 3 decades. In a safe, non-judgmental environment, there are events like nude beach volleyball, nude body-painting and nude sand-castle building. A hugely popular part of the laid-back Vancouver culture, this beach is in a city and yet has the feel of a wilderness with its evergreen forest and 200-foot cliffs. Although it is open all year, the climate here is not conducive to sunbathing or swimming year round, clothed or not.

With it's colorful name, the place stirs the imagination, but the so-called “wreck” of the name was a WWII freighter that ran aground on its way to Portland, Oregon, not something more romantic. The spectacular sunsets make up for it, and the setting of driftwood and pine trees is enchanting. The beach is abundant with wildlife, too; beach-goers can spot eagles, kingfishers, woodpeckers, blue herons and even sea lions.

This is an extremely busy beach in the summer months, and being right next to a university, is often populated with young adults; it is notably gay-friendly, relaxed and safe (thanks to low crime rates and the shallow waters). Food kiosks on the beach, together with vendors offering a range of goods from art to jewelry, give a carnival-style atmosphere; at its quieter times, the beach is a serene place, ideal for meditation.

Few places in the world can boast downhill skiing and a beach within short distance, but the beach is literally an hour from ski hills. They are high enough in this section of the Rocky Mountains to have snow a good deal of the year. Because of this, it is possible to ski in the morning and hit the beach in the afternoon during spring and autumn.

All sorts of entertainment can be had on the beach during the peak season, including games, art shows, live music concerts and impromptu jam sessions; native drumming circles are not uncommon here.

Ultimately, the appeal of Wreck Beach is the clothing-optional policy. The easy comfort with which the beach’s devotees discard their attire makes it not intimidating and many people claim that this was the first place they felt secure enough to bare it all and just have fun.

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