Oceans, lakes, beaches, mountains –British Columbia has got it all! What the province doesn’t have yet, are any Blue Flags. But, not to worry! We have been checking out beaches in BC and visiting with municipalities as the Blue Flag program expands west. What we saw there during our last visit were breathtaking beaches that are clean and sustainably managed, and met many of the Blue Flag criteria.
With such extensive coastline, there are some great salt water beaches: Here’s what we saw:
Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island is a lovely natural stone beach. With four kilometres of coastline, an adjacent promenade is lined with cafes, benches and shade trees. The information centre located on the beach can direct you to all of the local sites. If you’re a bird lover, you may be able to witness Brant on the beach during their migration during March and April. The Town of Qualicum Beach has been working hard to protect Brant during the migration by posting educational signage for the public.
Just a little further north on Vancouver Island we found another gem: Dick Murphy Park on the Tyee Spit in Campbell River. Once an RV Park, the area has been restored to its natural state. In 1996, the city developed a rehabilitation plan for the region, creating a recreation park on the spit. The shoreline has been rehabilitated and the spit has since been replanted with native species. Partnerships between the City of Campbell River, local environmental groups, First Nations and private companies have allowed this restoration to be a great success. Walking along the cobblestone pathway, one can view native plant and bird species that are now flourishing there.
Wreck Beach in Vancouver is another fantastic beach that has been kept in its natural state. Lined by old growth forest, beachgoers are separated from the sights of the city. With breathtaking views of Bowen Island in the distance, this beach feels like a secluded paradise. This portion of the beach is clothing-optional, so feel free to be in your natural state as well!
But BCs beaches aren’t limited to the coast – with so many lakes, there are many beautiful beaches in the interior as well.
Gyro Beach is the largest and most popular beach in Osoyoos. With blistering Okanagan summers, people flock to this beach to play in the water and seek refuge under beautiful mature shade trees. Visitors can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, paddle boating, and windsurfing. Close to downtown, the beach is easy to get to and has lots of amenities: washrooms, change rooms, a children’s playground, picnic tables and nearby food vendors. There is even a water park! After you’ve spent the day splashing in the water, you can simply enjoy the spectacular mountain views across Osoyoos Lake.
And last but not least, there’s Whistler. Known as a ski and snowboard destination, we’ve learned that this resort town is also home to amazing beaches. Rainbow Beach on Alta Lake is one of Whistler’s most popular beaches. Surrounded by forest and mountains, you can relax and enjoy the beautiful views in peace and quiet – no motorized boats are allowed! Early birds can even watch the sun rise over Wedge Mountain. The clear water is great for swimming, and there are lots of great amenities. Playgrounds, kayak and canoe rentals, volleyball nets, tennis courts, concessions and picnic shelters are enough to keep families busy all day. Located on the Valley Trail system, visitors can also hike around the park and see some historic log cabins.
After our west coast beach tour, we’re optimistic that BC will be flying some Blue Flags in the near future!
Want to learn more? Visit our website to learn more about the Blue Flag criteria, and what steps beaches have to take to earn a Blue Flag.