City Name
Home » Recent posts » Views, Vibes, & Volleyball: Your Guide to Spanish Banks

Views, Vibes, & Volleyball: Your Guide to Spanish Banks

Guide to Spanish Banks Vancouver
We extensively test and research all services we review. Here's why you can trust us.

The first time I laid my picnic blanket down at Spanish Banks, I knew this place was different — less crowded, more scenic, and incredibly relaxing. 

It’s a beach that lets you breathe and unwind at your own pace, all for free. And it’s definitely worth exploring!

Is the Spanish Banks in Vancouver worth visiting?

Is the Spanish Banks in Vancouver worth visiting

Spanish Banks is worth a visit as one of the top-notch beach spots in Vancouver, providing a mix of lively beach activities and peaceful relaxation opportunities. 

This spacious beach is perfect for those looking to enjoy a day packed with activities or just relax and take in the scenic backdrop of the city and mountains. 

Its calm environment makes it particularly appealing to families looking for a stress-free day out.

Why is it called Spanish Banks?

Why is it called Spanish Banks

The name celebrates a peaceful meeting between Spanish captains Dionisio Galiano and Cayetano Valdés and British Captain George Vancouver in 1792.

The area is dotted with names that honor these Spanish adventurers, like the nearby Strait of Juan de Fuca and Galiano Island along British Columbia’s coast. 

The beach itself is famous for its wide sandbanks, which were first noted on Spanish maps  long before they appeared on English charts, giving it a direct link to its exploratory past.

Trivia about Spanish Banks in Vancouver

Trivia about Spanish Banks in Vancouver
  • Spanish Banks is known for one of the largest stretches of sand that becomes exposed during low tide in Vancouver.
  • It features unique ecological zones exposed at low tide, attracting both casual visitors and researchers interested in marine biology.
  • It is a favored location for beach volleyball, often hosting local tournaments.
  • The beach is an integral part of Vancouver’s Seaside Seawall system, connecting it with other popular beaches.
  • The Spanish Banks may have the best beach in the city, but according to Vancouver Park Guide, it’s only the city’s sixth-best park with a beach.

Things to Know

Location: Spanish Banks is situated at 4875 Northwest Marine Drive in Vancouver , nestled between Locarno Beach and the University of British Columbia. It’s located in the Point Grey neighborhood.

Parking: Spanish Banks has provided free parking, with more than 700 parking spaces. However, there have been discussions on implementing paid parking in the area from April 1 to September 30.

Swimming: The waters are typically very cold, but during low tide, the returning water warms slightly, making it more tolerable for wading and playing.

Lifeguards: Lifeguards are stationed at the beach from Victoria Day to Labour Day, ensuring swimmer safety during these months.

Fishing: Like in other beach spots in the city, fishing or harvesting of shellfish like clams, oysters, and mussels is prohibited to protect the local marine environment.

Pets: Dogs can enjoy freedom in the off-leash areas located 200 meters west of the facilities at Spanish Banks West, while other areas require them to be on-leash.

Concession: Food kiosks at Spanish Banks offer coffee, soft drinks, ice cream, and hot dogs during the summer months.

Accessibility: The area is accessible, featuring water wheelchairs that require two attendants to operate.

Washrooms: Public washrooms are available. Temporary porta-potties are also in place at Spanish Banks West due to renovations.

Other facilities: The beach is equipped with picnic tables, barbecues, and around 20 volleyball courts, accommodating a variety of outdoor activities.

Best Time to Go

The ideal time to visit Spanish Banks is during the summer months, from May through September, when the weather is warm and all facilities, including lifeguards and concession stands, are fully operational. 

This period also offers the best conditions for beach activities like volleyball and picnicking. 

But if you prefer quieter visits with fewer crowds, early mornings or weekdays in late spring and early fall are also excellent choices. 

No matter when you go, aim for low tide to experience the expansive sand flats that make this beach unique.

How to Get There

Cars: You can drive to Spanish Banks via Northwest Marine Drive, with ample parking available along the beachside, especially during off-peak times.

Buses: The #4 or #14 buses from downtown Vancouver have routes that stop near Spanish Banks, making it accessible via public transit.

Trains: There are no direct train services to Spanish Banks; the closest option is to take a bus from a nearby SkyTrain station.

Taxi: Taxis are readily available throughout Vancouver and can be a convenient option to get directly to Spanish Banks.

Bike: Cycling is a scenic and eco-friendly way to reach Spanish Banks, with dedicated bike paths along the Seaside Seawall connecting from downtown.

Walking: For those nearby, walking to Spanish Banks is a pleasant experience, particularly along the Seaside Seawall that offers stunning views en route.

What to Expect at Spanish Banks

Huge Sandy Stretches

Huge Sandy Stretches

This cool feature during low tide turns the beach into a giant playground perfect for exploring, sunbathing, and playing games. 

It’s like the beach keeps going forever, giving you – and your kids if you have them in tow – plenty of room to roam and discover little tidal pools and maybe even build a sandcastle or two.

Awesome Views

Awesome Views

Expect to be wowed by the views at Spanish Banks! 

The beach offers a front-row seat to some of Vancouver’s best sights. You’ll see the city’s skyline, the majestic mountains across the water, and if you’re lucky, the distant Gulf Islands on a clear day. 

It’s a perfect backdrop for your beach day snaps for your Instagram feed.

Chill Vibes

Chill Vibes

Spanish Banks is the chill cousin of Vancouver’s busier beaches. It’s quieter and super family-friendly, making it a fantastic spot for those looking to unwind without a lot of noise. 

If you also want to relax with a book, enjoy a picnic without competing for space, or just lay back and enjoy the sun, this beach is the one for you.

Top-Notch Facilities

Top-Notch Facilities

You’ll find everything you need for a comfy beach day at Spanish Banks. The facilities are clean and well-kept, with public washrooms and seasonal food stands offering tasty treats. 

There are also plenty of spots to set up for a picnic with tables and benches, and the area is accessible, ensuring everyone can join in the fun.

So gear up for a beach day that’s as relaxing or as adventurous as you want it to be, with all the amenities you need right at your fingertips!

What to Do at Spanish Banks

Play Beach Volleyball

Play Beach Volleyball

Grab some friends and hit one of the many volleyball courts available at Spanish Banks. Whether you’re joining a casual game or setting up a tournament, the courts are first-come, first-served and always a hub of activity. 

It’s a great way to meet locals and other tourists alike while getting a bit of exercise under the sun.

Go Kiteboarding

Go Kiteboarding

For the adventure seekers, Spanish Banks is a fantastic spot for kiteboarding. The extension area of the beach provides a designated launch zone where you can catch the perfect wind. 

It’s a thrilling way to experience the beach, and even if you’re not up for trying it yourself, it’s still fun to watch the colorful kites soar against the nice backdrop.

Enjoy a Picnic

Enjoy a Picnic

Spanish Banks is ideal for a scenic picnic with its numerous picnic tables and expansive grassy areas.

Pack a lunch or grab some snacks from the local concessions, find a spot with a view, and enjoy a meal with one of the best scenic backdrops Vancouver has to offer. 

Take a Scenic Walk or Bike Ride

Take a Scenic Walk or Bike Ride

Utilize the Seaside Seawall system that runs through Spanish Banks for a leisurely walk or an energetic bike ride. The path connects you to other nearby beaches and offers uninterrupted views of the ocean and mountains. 

It’s a perfect activity for families, couples, or solo travelers looking to stretch their legs in a beautiful setting.

Watch the Sunset

Watch the Sunset

End your day at the beach by watching one of Vancouver’s stunning sunsets from Spanish Banks. 

The unobstructed views of the horizon make this one of the prime spots in the city to watch the sky change colors. Bring a blanket, settle in, and enjoy the peaceful end to a fun day at the beach.

Where to Go Nearby 

Jericho Beach

East of Spanish Banks, Jericho Beach offers another fantastic beach experience with less crowd and a more laid-back vibe. It’s a great spot for sailing enthusiasts and those who enjoy quieter beach activities. 

The Jericho Sailing `+Centre here provides lessons and rentals for various water sports, making it a hub for aquatic adventures.

Pacific Spirit Regional Park

Pacific Spirit Regional Park

Surrounding the University of British Columbia, Pacific Spirit Regional Park is a sanctuary of forested trails and rugged coastline. It’s ideal for hiking, jogging, or just a leisurely stroll amidst nature. 

The park’s extensive network of trails leads you through a variety of ecosystems, offering peaceful retreats and vigorous workouts alike.

Kitsilano Beach

Kitsilano Beach

Just a short drive from Spanish Banks, Kitsilano Beach is one of Vancouver’s most popular sandy spots, especially famous for its large, heated outdoor saltwater pool. 

The vibrant atmosphere is complemented by basketball and tennis courts, making it a lively hub for both locals and tourists. Kitsilano also boasts a great selection of cafes and shops along its shore, perfect for a post-beach stroll.

Tips and Advice 

  • Check the Tide Schedule: Visit during low tide to enjoy the full expanse of the beach for walks and exploration.
  • Dress in Layers: The weather can change quickly in Vancouver, so it’s wise to be prepared with extra clothing.
  • Bring Sun Protection: Even on cloudy days, UV rays can be strong, so sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses are essential.
  • Plan for Parking: Parking can fill up quickly on sunny days, so arrive early or consider alternative transportation like biking or public transit.

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

The Best Vancouver expert reviews directly to your inbox (and absolutely no spam!)