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Vancouver’s Spanish Banks Beach

Children Playing at Spanish Banks

The sandy shoreline and views make Spanish Banks one of Vancouver’s best beaches, and an especially great place for young children to play at low tide.


The Beach at Spanish Banks

Spanish Banks is located in the Point Grey neighbourhood of Vancouver at 4875 NW Marine Drive. It is situated between Locarno Beach and the University of British Columbia.

At low tide the water at Spanish Banks goes out for what seems like miles. The beach is a perfect place for children, as well as kite flying on windy days at low tide. With as many as 20 courts, the venue is also popular for beach volleyball and is sometimes used for beach volleyball tournaments.

At Spanish Banks there are a couple of food kiosks where you can buy coffee, soft drinks, ice cream and other food items like hot dogs in the summer.

Why is the area called Spanish Banks? The region has been the traditional territory of local First Nations for thousands of years. The British came to what is now British Columbia, and eventually made it one of their colonies, as we all know. Spanish explorers, however, were in the area in the 1700s too. That’s why there are so many islands and bodies of water around BC’s West Coast with Spanish names, like Cortes Island, Galiano Island, Quadra Island and the Straight of Juan de Fuca.

In 1792 the Spanish fleet and British fleets met. In honour of the peaceful encounter between Captains Dionisio Galiano (1760-1805) and Cayetano Valdés (1767–1835) from Spain and Britain’s Captain George Vancouver (1757-1798), the area which is today called Spanish Banks received its name.


Volleyball at Spanish Banks
Volleyball at Spanish Banks Beach


Tips and Advice

Below are some good things to know about Spanish Banks.

TIP #1: There is a nice level cycling and walking trail that connects Spanish Banks with other beaches along the waterfront (including Locarno and Jericho). Take your bike or walking shoes and enjoy the area!

TIP #2:  The Pacific Ocean around Vancouver is typically very cold even in the summer. Swimming there is not for the faint of heart.

If you don’t mind the shallow water (like if you’re a toddler or just want to play as opposed to actually swim), then hit Spanish Banks on a really hot sunny day when the tide is out. Then, as the tide comes back in the water heats up a couple of degrees from the hot sand. It still won’t be warm by more southern standards, but at least warmer than at other times.

TIP #3: Try to go at low tide, when the sand goes out for what seems like miles. Don’t forget to take your sandcastle-building tools! Check out the Tide Forecast website for the tide schedule.


Vancouver from Spanish Banks at Low Tide
Spanish Banks at Low Tide (with a zoom lens)


Other Information

Click the following link to learn more about Metro Vancouver’s Top Beaches (including Jericho, Locarno and Kitsilano all nearby).

Other articles that might be of interest include the following: