Not far from the city centre lies this beautiful stretch of sand perfect for soaking up the sun. Take an afternoon nap, stroll the shoreline, or hire a kayak at the ever-popular English Bay which sits just a short walk from Stanley Park. Here you'll find cycling and hiking trails. Grab a bite to eat at the many cafés, bars, and shops across the road in Denman Street.
Originally established as a swimming beach in 1893 with a few shacks built along the shore for shade and changing, English Bay, as well as the nearby group of beaches known as Spanish Banks, were named in honour of an international collaboration in 1792 between Captain George Vancouver of the British Navy, and Captain Dionisio Galiano of the Spanish Navy, in charting the region for their native countries.
The English Bay affords visitors fabulous views of the greenery at Stanley Park and the towering mountains that loom large above the shore. As the day draws to an end, find yourself a place amidst the crowds to watch the sky put on a dazzling show of reds, pinks, and oranges.
Every year, an increasingly large crowd converges at the bay for two popular events. If you’re visiting in July/early August don’t miss the Celebration of Light International Fireworks Competition. The three-day carnival sees three international teams compete against each other to be the brightest spark in the largest off-shore fireworks display in the world.
If you’re around in the winter and are brave enough, take a plunge on New Year's Day into the icy waters of the Pacific at the annual Polar Bear Swim, a tradition dating back to 1920. Or just come to watch people in all sorts of costumes, fancy dress, or even their birthday suit take up the challenge of the 91-metre swim. To take part in the swim, you must register (for free) with the Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club before the race.
English Bay is an easy stroll from downtown. It’s also accessible by bus. Street parking is available, but can be hard to find during the busy summer season.
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