White Rock Polar Bear Swim

The White Rock Polar Bear Plunge is one of several icy New Year’s Day polar bear swims that take place in Metro Vancouver on January 1st each year.

Other similar dips in the ocean take place at English Bay in Vancouver and at Deep Cove on the North Shore, among other places.

Polar Bear Plunge in White Rock

Every year crowds gather to watch hundreds of brave souls in swimsuits and funny costumes celebrate the New Year by going for a first-day-of-the-year swim in the ocean.

The event attracts thousands of onlookers and is hosted by the Royal Canadian Marine Search & Rescue Unit 5 and a number of local Rotary clubs.

Polar Plunge 2019

In 2019 the White Rock Polar Plunge was going to celebrate its 49th year on Tuesday, January 1st. Registration usually happens at 10:30 am and the swimming starts at noon. Because of wind damage to the White Rock Pier in December 2018, however, the 2019 swim was cancelled. It will take place again next year though.

In years when it does happen, the event takes place in the community of White Rock at the beach just east of the pier not far from the community’s landmark giant white rock.

In recent years as many as 3000 people have attended the event. In 2020 organizers again hope that as many as 800 of them bring their swimsuits.

Free hot chocolate and coffee are usually available at the swim and there arre hot dogs for sale for people who get hungry.

White Rock Polar Bear Swim
Participants at the White Rock Polar Bear Swim

Participation in the Polar Swim

Participants in the White Rock Polar Bear Plunge are encouraged to register for the event. Polar Bear plunging is free and registered participants get an official Polar Plunge certificate. Swimmers are encouraged to wear costumes and prizes are awarded for the best.

Tips and Advice

Below are some tips and suggestions to help you make the most out of your White Rock Polar Bear Plunge experience.

TIP #1: If swimming, wear a costume because it’s fun, there are prizes and it might help keep you warm (or at least warmer than just your trunks or bikini). Also, consider wearing some kind of water shoes as the tide might be close to where the beach gets rocky.

TIP #2: Don’t be upset if your photo appears in the newspaper (or in online media like Vancouver’s Best Places). This is a public event and media will be there! Not wanting to be recognized or show off too much skin is another good reason to wear a costume.

TIP #3: Don’t forget to take a towel, camera, warm clothes to change into afterwards and your friends and family.

TIP #4: This is one time when swimming on an empty stomach might not be the best idea. Having a bit of food inside you, like a Rotary Club hot dog or free cup of hot chocolate, might help keep you an extra degree or two warmer.

Other Information

For more information about the event, click White Rock Polar Bear Swim.

Other polar bear swims take place in Vancouver, North Vancouver, Port Moody, Delta and Fort Langley. For details about these other events click Lower Mainland New Year’s Swims.

For information about the venue and surrounding area, see our page about White Rock.

For a list of other Metro Vancouver events at different times of the year, check out our January Calendar or Festivals & Events Calendar.

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