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32+ of the Best Beaches in British Columbia, Canada

When you think of sun, sea and sand the first country to spring to mind may not be Canada. But with the world’s longest coastline, Canada offers thousands of coves, bays and beautiful sandy stretches.

And you don’t have to travel the whole country to find them! The province of British Columbia boasts a stunning array of ocean beaches as well as a wealth of freshwater lakes.

Looking across horizontal driftwood to sandy beach in front of Pacific Ocean with waves rolling in
Nels Bight beach, Cape Scott Provincial Park

In this post, I will share 32+ of the best beaches in BC, Canada. Some are off-the-beaten-track gems, while others are some of the most popular in the province. 

JR and I have visited hundreds of BC beaches since moving here in 2011. This was a hard list to narrow down!

Here’s what to expect:

Published 2023.

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Elevated driftwood heart arch on Kin Beach in Comox, with sandy beach beneath and pebbles towards the water. The ocean is calm in the background
Kin Beach, Comox

The Best Beaches in BC

The first section of this post shares my favourite BC beaches. I have personally visited each one; most of them multiple times.

I have explained why these beaches are so special and an overview of what to expect.

JR standing on beach looking up at tall 'flowerpot' rock - a rock that has been eroded by the ocean, leaving trees and foliage at the top
‘Flowerpot rock’ on a beach on the West Coast Trail

I’ve concentrated on sharing coastal beaches for the most part, along with some freshwater (lake) beaches to round things out.

The below map features all the featured beaches.

These BC beaches are located on the traditional territories of many different First Nations. I’d recommend using the Native Land website to find out more.

Screenshot of Google Map showing best beaches in BC
Best BC Beaches Interactive Google Map

But wait, my favourite beach in BC isn’t on this list?!

While we’ve visited a lot of beaches across British Columbia over the last decade, it would be impossible to say that we’ve visited all that exist!

That is particularly true regarding the Cariboo and Chilcotin areas as well as North BC and Haida Gwaii. Full disclosure – we haven’t visited these regions much yet (if at all, in the case of Haida Gwaii).

Looking aross sandy crescent shaped beach in Penticton with calm lake water and brightly coloured trees lining shore
Marina Way Beach, Penticton

This list is also completely subjective. These are my favourite BC beaches (so far). Your top picks may be different and that’s OK!

The second section of this post features even more amazing beaches in BC, some of which didn’t make my shortlist and others I have not visited yet.

Looking across horizontal driftwood to calm ocean bay at Air Force Beach at sunset
Air Force Beach, Comox

Kye Bay / Air Force Beach, Comox

Vanouver Island’s Comox Valley area is host to many incredible beaches. I managed to narrow it down to two, or rather, three.

Kye Bay is situated behind the airport in Comox, with the beach looking out towards Powell River and the snow-capped coastal mountains.

This beach is the best at low tide when the sand stretches as far as the eye can see. At high tide, the remaining mix is a mix of pebbles, sand and driftwood.

Air Force Beach is a private beach administered by CFB, the local military base (daily parking fees required). It’s located just around the corner from Kye Bay and features soft, golden sand with the same amazing Salis Sea views.

Other beautiful beaches in the Comox Valley area include Kin Beach, Goose Spit (see below), Point Holmes and Singing Sands.

Looking across sandy Kye Beach with channels of water in places. There is forest on the right
Kye Bay, Comox

Goose Spit, Comox

A favourite with Comox locals, the sandy Goose Spit stretches a little over two kilometres long into Comox Bay.

The views are incredible, with panoramas across the Salish Sea to the Coastal Mountains and also back towards Vancouver Island. It’s a popular place for birds too, with bald eagles, loons and gulls often resident. 

There are several firepits on Goose Spit beach and fires are allowed from the start of May to September, offering the opportunity for perhaps the most scenic campfire you’ve ever had.

Goose Spit is one of the best beaches in British Columbia, this photo features pebble and sand beach close to camera with mountains rising above ocean behind
Goose Spit, Comox

Jáji7em and Kw’ulh Marine Park (Sandy Island)

Perched on the end of Denman Island near Vancouver Island, Sandy Island (also known as Tree Island) is only accessible by foot at low tide or by boat. We usually paddle over in our canoe or kayaks.

This little golden oasis offers sandy beaches as far as the eye can see and a whole lot of solitude, impressive for being so close to a populated area of Vancouver Island.

Please note that no fires are allowed on Sandy Island due to the delicate environment. Leave No Trace!

Sandy Island beach with sloped sand beach from left to right, with calm ocean visible behind
Sandy Island

Tribune Bay, Hornby Island

Fine white sand, warm aquamarine waters…is this really British Columbia? Tribune Bay’s 1km long beach rolls out to meet shallow water and provides some of the warmest saltwater swimming in Canada.

 A five-minute walk from the beach leads to the Ringside Market, an eclectic mix of cafes and shops selling islander and artisan-made goods.

Two short ferries are necessary to get to Hornby Island. I would say it’s definitely worth it, however!

Looking across rocks to sandy Tribune bay, one of the best BC beaches. There are many people in the beach and in the calm ocean
Tribune Bay

Rathtrevor Beach, Parksville

Featuring an expansive protected shoreline, tidal pools and a lush forest backdrop, Rathtrevor Beach is a must-visit when on Vancouver Island. The golden sand and pebble beach is almost 2km long.

When the tide is out, it feels like you can walk for miles. The views stretch endlessly too, towards offshore islands and distant mountain ranges.

Rathtrevor isn’t the only gorgeous beach in the Parksville area but it is very accessible from the highway and has a huge amount of parking.

There’s a huge provincial park campground behind Rathtrevor Beach – be sure to reserve as early as possible. There’s some nearby accommodation too. We stayed at Sunrise Ridge Waterfront Resort and loved walking the beach at sunset

Looking across washboard textured sandy beach on blue sky day with mountains visible in the background
Rathtrevor Beach

Sombrio Beach, Juan de Fuca Provincial Park

Sombrio Beach is the longest beach along the Juan de Fuca stretch of Vancouver Island’s coastline. It’s particularly loved by surfers. The beach mostly consists of pebbles, ranging in colour from dark gray to light purple.

A must-see at Sombrio Beach is the Hidden Waterfall. Situated in a mossy canyon at the far eastern side of the beach, I don’t know any other beach in BC that has a waterfall quite like this one!

Other gorgeous beaches in this area include Mystic Beach and Sandcut Beach, both of which have waterfalls that cascade right onto the shore.

With so much to see around Sombrio Beach, I’d recommend staying in the Port Renfrew area for at least a few days. Wild Renfrew is an unforgettable place to stay, featuring private waterfront cottages, some with hot tubs

A mossy, narrow canyon leading to a thin waterfall at the end
The Hidden Waterfall on Sombrio Beach

Botanical Beach, Juan de Fuca Provincial Park

Part of Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, Botanical Beach is a place for geological and wildlife discovery rather than sunbathing.

Black basalt rocks and tide pools replace sand here, providing an insight into intertidal life at the edge of the Pacific.

Visit at low tide to see the shoreline and tide pool wildlife at their best while high tide offers a chance to experience the true power of the ocean (though be sure to keep back from the surf!).

Orcas and Grey whales migrate often travel past these shores so keep an eye out while exploring the beach.

Botanical Beach is located at the very start (or end) of the 47km long Juan de Fuca Marine Trail.

Looking down on seaweed bordered rockpools at Botanical Beach in Port Renfrew, with forest bordering rocky beach

Cox Bay, Tofino

Cox Bay is a sandy, crescent-shaped beach near Tofino on Vancouver Island. The Pacific Ocean laps (and sometimes roars!) onto the beach, with tide pools appearing at both north and south ends at low tide.

There is a rugged but rewarding lookout hike starting from the south side of the beach. Panoramic views of Clayoquot Sound, the Pacific Ocean and dozens of Vancouver Island peaks await at the top.

Cox Bay is an ideal place to watch Tofino’s winter storms roll in. The beach can be hit by 12 metre high waves during storm season. As you can imagine, surfers love it!

Of course, Cox Bay isn’t the only impressive beach in the Tofino area. Mackenzie Beach is also fabulous as is Tonquin Beach and Long Beach (below).

Visiting in storm season? I’d recommend staying at one of the hotels along the beach so you can watch all the action in complete safety! The beach houses at Pacific Sands Beach Resort are incredible, with 12 foot high ceilings

Looking down on sandy Cox Bay from headland lookout, with ocean waves rolling in and distance mountains in background

Long Beach, Pacific Rim National Park

I couldn’t possibly make a list of beaches without mentioning Vancouver Island’s probably most visited. Long Beach is aptly named being 16km in length and is part of the Pacific Rim National Park

That does mean that there is a fee to visit, but be assured that is well worth every cent.

Sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and temperate rainforest, Long Beach has that unique ‘end of the world’ feeling. The sand is pristine, the views remarkable and the surf consistently good.

It is important to note that Long Beach technically includes several other named beaches, including Schooner Cove, Wickaninnish Beach and Combers Beach.

Driftwood log on endless sandy beach in Pacific Rim National Reserve with ocean and island in background. The log's shadow stretches towards the camera

Pachena Bay, Bamfield

Located at the northern end of West Coast Trail near Bamfield, Pachena Bay is a welcome sight after finishing this epic coastal backpacking route.

This stunning pristine white sand beach looks almost too good to be real. The only catch is that it’s not really a swimming beach as the Pacific Ocean is very cold.

It is not necessary to hike the WCT to visit Pachena Bay, since there is (unpaved) road access. The 83km journey usually takes around two hours but is worth every second. There is a campground behind the beach.

Back view of JR walking down sandy Pachena Bay beach with backpack on
Pachena Bay (we last visited after hiking the West Coast Trail)

Carmanah Beach, Pacific Rim National Park

The 75km long West Coast Trail features many spectacular beach sections, with my top pick being Carmanah Beach.

This 2km+ long stretch of windswept sandy beach is the definition of remote, only being accessible by foot or boat. There is a rustic campground, but most WCT hikers do not stop here (we did and loved it!)

The beach walking experience is atmospheric with the Pacific Ocean crashing right onto the shore and mist swirling around the bordering temperate rainforest. The sandy beach disappears far into the distance.

Other beaches on the West Coast Trail include Walbran, Dare, Clo-ose Bay, Tsusiat, Klanawa and Tsocowis.

Looking down long sandy Carmanah Beach on rainy day with fairly calm ocean on left, ocean mist swirling around forest
Carmanah Beach

Saratoga Beach, Oyster River

Saratoga Beach is a gorgeous stretch of white sand beach located halfway between Courtenay and Campbell River. There are several public access points from Clarkson Avenue.

It’s definitely my favourite in the area – the sand is so fine and soft. There are panoramic views across the Salish Sea to the snow-capped coastal mountains.

Just to the south is Miracle Beach, which is protected by a provincial park of the same name.

Unlike Saratoga, it has no houses backing onto the beach so it does feel a little more wild. The park has some short forest trails, washrooms and picnic facilities.

Looking across white coloured sandy Saratoga Beach with scattered driftwood. The ocean is calm
Saratoga Beach

Nels Bight, Cape Scott Provincial Park

The whole northwestern Vancouver Island area offers fantastic windswept and wild sandy beaches on the edge of the Pacific.

Nels Bight is, in my opinion, one of the best as it is more than 2km long! It is only reachable by boat or a 30km return hike on the Cape Scott Trail.

A stunning sight and relief for hikers with sore (and most probably, wet) feet, Nels Bight makes for an excellent base camp location for exploring the Cape Scott Lighthouse and other surrounding beaches.

Not up for a multi-day hike? No problem. Beautiful San Josef Bay is only a 45 minute walk from the same trailhead (and is home to the flower pot rocks!) Raft Cove is another nearby option, though the hike-in is much more rugged.

Looking across driftwood to long sandy Nels Bight beach with forest and calm ocean in background
Nels Bight

Davis Bay Beach, Sunshine Coast

The Sunshine Coast is host to many smaller beaches, with one of my favourites being Davis Bay near Sechelt.

While the pebble beach itself is quite small during most of the day, it becomes far more expansive and sandy at low tide.

A paved promenade borders the beach, which makes Davis Bay the perfect place for a scenic stroll. Sunset is the best time since the beach faces west and has uninterrupted views of the horizon.

There is a small wooden pier on the northern side of the beach. This is a very popular place to go crabbing and fishing.

The only downside to this beach is that it is right on the highway and can be a bit noisy.

Promenade view over pebble Davis bay beach with calm ocean behind. Forested coastline is also visible
Davis Bay

Jericho Beach, Vancouver

Vancouver is home to a somewhat surprising amount of amazing beaches for such a large city so it was hard to choose just one.

Jericho Beach has the benefit of mountain, ocean AND city views plus a bunch of great take-out places and grocery stores in nearby Kitsilano to pick up a beach picnic or barbeque supplies from.

Long, wide and with plenty of driftwood to sit and rest on, there is space on Jericho Beach for everyone to watch the sunset or just hang out.

Of course, nearby Kits Beach is a worthwhile addition to this list as well.

Kits Beach view with a dozen or so people hanging out on sand and on the driftwood seats. The ocean is calm and six different container ships are visible
My own photos of Jericho Beach are terrible, but here’s nearby Kits Beach (credit Destination BC/Grant Harder

Gyro Beach, Osoyoos

As Canada’s warmest freshwater lake, Osoyoos Lake is THE place the swim in BC’s interior! The actual temperature varies but it averages 24°C in summer. I do find that it feels cooler though since the air temperature is often so hot (32°C+!)

Gyro Beach is the biggest in town and is also only a few minutes walk from downtown Osoyoos.

The beach is lined by grass and shady trees with a large lawn area located at the northern end as well. Gyro is usually very busy in July and August but I find it still has such a chill vibe. There’s a smaller, and typically quieter, beach at nearby Lions Park.

Free music is performed in Gyro Park on Friday evenings during the summer months. It’s also a great spot to watch the country’s second-largest fireworks display on Canada Day!

Gyro Beach in Osoyoos from lawn area with people hanging out with inflatable on left, calm swimming area just offshore and desert like mountains in background
Gyro Beach, Osoyoos

Skaha Lake Park, Penticton

Penticton’s Skaha Beach is sometimes called one of the best beaches in all of Canada! This sweeping 500m long stretch of golden sand is situated at the southern end of the city, offering spectacular views straight down Skaha Lake.

The most special aspect of Skaha Beach is that it is backed by 21 acres of parkland.

This not only provides great separation from the surrounding urban area but also means beach visitors have access to plenty of amenities including several playgrounds, a splash park, tennis courts, volleyball courts, walking paths, a baseball diamond, fire pits and more.

Neighbouring Sudbury Beach is another amazing BC beach that deserves a place on this list. Other Penticton beaches we love include Marina Way Beach (it’s just a few blocks from our house!) and Okanagan Beach.

Paved promenade on left next to sandy Skaha Beach. The lake is calm and mountains rise above the water in the background
Skaha Park Beach in spring

Sun-Oka Beach Provincial Park, Summerland

135km long Okanagan Lake is lined by many sandy and rocky beaches. Sun-Oka gets my vote as one of the best beaches on Okanagan Lake as it set into a ‘natural’ location i.e. not within an urban area.

At Sun-Oka, you can fully enjoy the beauty of Okanagan Lake and truly get away from it all!

The main beach features soft golden sand is 600m long. Facing south, it receives a lot of sun all day. Sun-Oka is very popular with families and especially dog owners as there is a separate dog friendly area east of the main beach.

For a similar ‘natural’ beach feel elsewhere on Okanagan Lake, I’d recommend heading to Ellison Provincial Park in Vernon.

Two picnic tables and a fire pit on a sandy beach in front of a calm lake in Summerland
Sun-Oka Beach

Kal Beach, Vernon

The city of Vernon is surrounded by three lakes – Okanagan, Kalamalka and Swan Lake. Residents therefore have easy access to many different beaches.

The most popular, however, is Kal Beach on Kalamalka Lake. Situated just a 10 minute drive from Vernon’s downtown area, Kal Beach’s main attraction is a long strip of soft golden sand. Scattered trees provide plenty of shade.

Kal Beach’s amenities are ideal for families, with restrooms, snack bars, SUP rentals, beach volleyball courts and even a wooden pier.

If Kal Beach sounds a little busy for your taste, head to Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park. 

A short hiking trail from the Yellow Gate parking lot leads to Juniper and Jade beaches. These pretty twin bays are blessed with warm, crystal clear water (shining with Kal Lake’s famous green-blue hues!)

People hang out in chairs and with paddleboards on sandy Kal Beach next to calm Kalamalka Lake in Vernon
Kal Beach

Sandspit Beach, Kokanee Creek Provincial Park, Nelson

This beach is one of my new favourites, with our first visit being in August 2023. Sandspit Beach is located on Kootenay Lake, almost half way between Nelson and the Balfour ferry.

The pebble/sand beach is huge (1km+) with plenty of space for tourists and residents alike on a sunny day. The lake is surprisingly warm and perfect for swimming.

The beach is backed by two vehicle accessible campgrounds, though there is good separation with forest and grass. There are coin operated day use showers, watersports rentals, picnic tables and a designated dog beach.

Kokanee Creek Provincial Park has another beach, Redfish Beach, situated on the other side of the park. I’e been told about many other amazing beaches along this stretch of shoreline, some accessible through private land only.

Vertical photo of sandy Sandspit Beach in shade with paddleboard on shore. The lake is calm with forested mountains in the background
Sandspit Beach

More BC beaches to visit

The following are great examples of beautiful BC lake beaches. They just didn’t quite make my shortlist!

Boyce-Gyro Beach Park, Kelowna

Located a little further south than the downtown waterfront area, Boyce-Gyro Beach Park is one of the most popular beaches in Kelowna. But for good reason!

This gorgeous stretch of golden sand has plenty of shady areas, perfect for the Okanagan heat. It has a large playground as well as an inflatable waterpark, plus volleyball courts and watersport rentals.

If you get hungry, there is an on-site concession. A number of restaurants (and a brewery) are situated within easy walking distance.

This BC beach is completely free to visit but expect to pay for parking.

Canoe Beach, Salmon Arm

Shuswap Lake features more than 1,430km of shoreline. Exploring it is a much easier prospect if you have a boat. If you don’t, beach options in this area are a little more limited.

One of the most easily accessible public beaches is Canoe Beach near Salmon Arm. This spacious sandy beach has beautiful views of forested mountains.

The water can be a little muddy but the convenience and amenities (playground, grass areas, volleyball, concession) more than make up for it.

Herald Provincial Park is also great for swimming but is a longer drive from the highway. Sicamous Beach Park is another worthwhile destination while in the area. 

Golden hour on sandy Canoe Beach with people strolling across. Forested mountains on the other side of the lake with stormy weather in distance
Canoe Beach in early spring

Christina Lake Public Beach

Despite being relatively narrow and surrounded by mountains, Christina Lake is BC’s warmest tree lined lake. The water temperature averages around 22°C on summer days.

The main public beach in Christina Lake Provincial Park is very well organised, with 350m of sand along the shoreline, a good amount of shady trees and a large parking lot.

There are some pocket beaches in Gladstone Provincial Park, accessible via the campground. The park is also host to a number of expansive boat-only beaches further up the lake.

Our favourite of these is Axel Johnson Marine Campsite. We once camped overnight ($13 per party or vessel).

Back view of JR walking through water on shoreline of Christina Lake. Mountains surround the lake in the background but are obscured by wildfire smoke
Christina Lake during a smoky September visit

Kinsmen Beach, Invermere

A beach with views of the Purcell and Rocky Mountains? Yes, please! Kinsmen Beach features a good stretch of pebble/sand on beautiful Lake Windermere.

The beach is bordered by grassy lawn, with plenty of picnic tables and shade. Families are well catered for with a playground, roped swimming area, swimming platform and slide.

The water was pretty shallow (hip deep) for a far distance when we last visited in August 2023.

Parking can be issue here. If the main lot is full, there is an overflow parking area three minutes drive away (Rotary Ball Park and Tennis Courts).

Looking beyond pebble shoreline to calm Lake Windermere, where people are floating on inflatables. The Rockies are visible in the background
Kinsmen Beach views

Other amazing beaches in BC

There are so many more beaches I could name on this BC beaches list.

The following beaches are either ones that didn’t make my final shortlist or I haven’t visited yet but have been told that they are spectacular!

  • South Beach, Savary Island
  • Whalebone Beach, Gabriola Island
  • Beddis Beach, Salt Spring Island
  • Medicine Beach Sanctuary, Pender Island
  • First Beach, Nootka Island
  • Calvin Falls Beach, Nootka Island
  • Qualicum Beach
  • Sunset Beach near Nanaimo
  • Kanaka Bay, Nanaimo
  • Florencia Bay near Tofino
  • Chesterman Beach, Tofino
  • First Beach, Flores Island
Rock shelf beach at Kanaka Bay on Newcastle Island, calm ocean visible and container ship in background. Distant mountains can also be seen
Kanaka Bay, Newcastle Island (Saysutshun)
  • Mystic Beach, Juan de Fuca Provincial Park
  • Willows Beach, Victoria
  • Taylor Beach near Victoria
  • Crescent Beach, White Rock
  • Ambleside Beach, West Vancouver
  • Rainbow Park Beach, Whistler (temporarily closed)
  • Overlanders Park Beach, Kamloops
  • Mara Provincial Park near Sicamous
  • Nakusp Municipal Beach, Nakusp
  • Rotary Lakeside Park, Nelson
  • Waldo Cove Regional Park on Lake Koocanusa
  • North Beach, Haida Gwaii
  • Agate Beach, Haida Gwaii
Looking across pebble strewn Mystic Beach with Pacific Ocean rolling in. Forest on left
Mystic Beach

Best Beaches in BC: visiting tips

Please keep the following in mind when visiting any of these incredible beaches in British Columbia:

  • The vast majority of BC beaches do not have lifeguard stations. This means you need to be responsible for your safety
  • Always pack out what you bring to the beach. Not only does this keep the beach beautiful for other visitors, but it helps the environment and animals too
  • Some of these beaches are located in areas without phone signal. Let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to come back
  • Don’t pick up anything on the beach. Living creatures do not like to be touched. Driftwood and shells are wildlife habitats and moving them can disturb the animals that live in them
  • Dog owners should follow leashing and closure rules. Many BC beaches do not allow dogs. On some beaches, dogs are restricted during the summer months to avoid disturbance to migrating seabirds
Looking across sandy Schooner Cove on Long Beach with forested rocky area ahead next to ocean
Schooner Cove, Long Beach

Related posts you may find helpful

19+ of the Best Beaches in PEI, Canada

27+ of the Best Beaches in Nova Scotia, Canada

Where to Find Golden Larches in British Columbia

Where to See the Salmon Run in British Columbia

Where to Find Big Trees on Vancouver Island

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Saturday 27th of May 2023

No way. I"ve swum at Tribune Bay multiple times and it was never even close to being as warm as the beaches on PEI in the summer.


Wednesday 7th of June 2023

My swimming experiences at Tribune Bay have always been pretty warm! PEI is a great spot too though.


Wednesday 29th of June 2016

Having been to only a couple of beaches you have mentioned, I have realised that I must try harder! Thanks for the list and your enthusiastic comments.