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English Bay Beach in Vancouver

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“In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth” -Rachel Carson

English Bay Beach is located in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It is a popular year-round tourist destination and is renown for sunbathing, swimming and sunset-watching. The beach is near the West End residential neighbourhood and is host to several public events. Other downtown beaches facing English Bay include Sunset Beach, Second Beach and Third Beach.

The present bathhouse that was built in 1932 replaced an earlier ornate structure from the early 1900s. Public amenities at the beach include the seawall, a public concession and bathhouse, kayak rental and storage, a swimming raft with large slide, public restrooms, sand volleyball courts, the Cactus Club Cafe and lifeguards on duty from late May to Labour Day in September.

Water sports in English Bay include stand up paddling, windsurfing and skim boarding. English Bay is a sailor’s paradise and is filled with boats of all types, as well as anchored freighters waiting for entry to the Port of Vancouver.

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English Bay Beach, Circa 1910
City of Vancouver Archives

Did you know?

The Honda Celebration of Light is an annual musical fireworks competition held at 10:00 PM in English Bay. The event is held in late July and early August and is one of Vancouver’s largest and best known festivals. The competition was first held in 1990 and has an annual attendance of 1.4 million people.

The annual Polar Bear Swim is held in English Bay at 2:30 PM on January 1st. In 1920, the late Peter Pantages organized the Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club and its first Polar Bear Swim. About 300 swimmers participated in the 1950s. Today, more than 2,000 people participate and 5,000 to 10,000 spectators watch this family event. The Queen of the Polar Bears, Ivy Granstrom, a well-honoured blind athlete, participated 77 times in the swim from 1928 to 2004.

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