Vancouver’s got a lot of interesting neighborhoods to visit, so much so that it gets a bit repetitive. Well, we’re here to tell ya that we found this quaint little village just off West Vancouver called Horseshoe Bay.
Everything here is just picture-perfect, from the lovely seaside views to the scenic views of the Coast Mountains and ferries going in and out of the bay. We’ve made this guide to help you make the most of your time in this charming seaside village.
Why is Horseshoe Bay famous?
Horseshoe Bay is famous for its BC Ferry Terminal, where ferries go in and out of Horseshoe Bay, connecting travelers to Snug Cove on Bowen Island, Langdale on the Sunshine Coast, and Departure Bay in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.
In addition to its ferry hub, this charming locality boasts a delightful assortment of cafes, restaurants, shops, and charming boutiques.
Moreover, it offers splendid vistas of the surrounding mountains, picturesque islands, and the breathtaking Howe Sound. There’s also plenty of opportunity for recreation here, such as sea kayaking, scuba diving, boating, hiking, skiing, and cross-country skiing.
History of Horseshoe Bay
Horseshoe Bay, called Chai-hai by the Squamish people, was named after the swishing sounds of fishes in the waters of the village. It served as a meeting place for fishing camps and a resting spot for travelers between the Squamish River and Burrard Inlet.
In 1909, Horseshoe Bay underwent development as a summer resort, but it wasn’t until the arrival of the PGE railway in 1914 that it truly gained popularity as a recreational destination.
In the 1930s, Dan Sewell Sr. operated a marina and hotel, solidifying the bay’s reputation as a hub for sport fishing enthusiasts. But, it wasn’t until 1951 that the village initiated regular ferry services, operated by Black Ball Ferries.
In 1961, the British Columbia government announced its acquisition of Black Ball Ferries, leading to the establishment of the provincially run BC Ferries, which took over the ferry services.
Pacific Standard Time (PST) (UTC-8)
Best Time to Go
The best time to go to Horseshoe Bay is during the spring (March through May) and fall (late September to November) seasons, as this is when the weather is at its best.
During this time, you’re able to truly enjoy the natural beauty of Horseshoe Bay and explore the various outdoor activities it has to offer. Plus, it’s not too crowded compared to summer (July through September) months.
How to Get to Horseshoe Bay
By bus: Board the #257 Horseshoe Bay Express in downtown Vancouver. The travel time would be around 28 minutes and has a total of eight stops.
By car: Drive towards the Trans-Canada Hwy in West Vancouver and continue on BC 99 N to Horseshoe Bay Dr. Take Exit 2, and drive towards Marine Dr, Nelson Ave and Royal Ave to your destination in Horseshoe Bay.
Places to Stay in Horseshoe Bay
Horseshoe Bay Motel
Address: 6588 Royal Ave, West Vancouver, BC V7W 2B6, Canada
Phone: +1 604-913-6588
This motel’s nostalgic charm is accentuated with vintage decor and retro furnishings that transport guests back in time. But despite that, it offers modern amenities such as free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs in every room.
You pretty much get what you pay for here—rooms with village, mountain, and ocean views, free self-parking, and it’s minutes away from restaurants, parks, galleries, and you’re right beside the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal.
Whytecliff Park Place
Address: 7102 Marine Dr, West Vancouver, BC V7W 2T3, Canada
Phone: +1 604-925-7275
With a sun deck and private patio, this quaint and nicely furnished property near Whytecliff Park— perfect for those seeking a tranquil retreat by the water.
You’ll get to stay in the top-floor unit of this home, so you’re basically sharing the home with other guests and the host family, but you get full access to all the amenities and common areas.
North Vancouver Hotel
Address: 1800 Capilano Rd, North Vancouver, BC V7P 3B6, Canada
Phone: +1 604-987-4461
If you’re planning to visit attractions like Capilano or Cypress Falls before your way to Horseshoe Bay, the North Vancouver Hotel is where you wanna be, as your route from here to there will pass by these popular destinations.
Apart from the convenient location and affordable rooms, the hotel’s also got free continental breakfast, parking, and WiFi, so despite the drive to Horseshoe Bay, it’s pretty much a hassle-free and comfortable stay.
Econo Lodge Inn & Suites
Address: 1748 Capilano Rd, North Vancouver, BC V7P 3B4, Canada
Phone: +1 604-337-8393
Econo Lodge Inn & Suites, situated on Capilano Road, is an older yet well-kept hotel. If you’re looking to save on accommodation expenses, this spot is a good alternative.
Pros include free parking, breakfast, coffee, and a charming courtyard. The rooms are not too shabby either and its location is convenient, placing you near Capilano Bridge, Squamish, Whistler, Grouse Mountain, and West Vancouver.
SureStay by Best Western
Address: 1634 Capilano Rd, North Vancouver, BC V7P 3B4, Canada
Phone: +1 604-987-8185
SureStay by Best Western may offer basic rooms, but it’s conveniently located for those planning to drive to downtown Vancouver or catch the Horseshoe Bay Ferries.
Plus, guests enjoy the added perk of having their own door to the outside, and there’s even a restaurant right on-site.
Places to Eat in Horseshoe Bay
Address: 6408 Bay St, West Vancouver, BC V7W 2H1, Canada
Phone: +1 604-921-7755
Troll’s Restaurant’s community vibe is apparent as soon as you go inside. There’s a bunch of TVs playing various sports and lots of close-knit indoor seating, and the bonus is that it’s been a local spot since the 1940s.
Try to get a seat on the outdoor patio to get a great view of the Horseshoe Bay pier. The main star here is the fish and chips, but we’d say to give the other dishes, such as the ‘Famous Fisherman’s Breakfast’ or the classic ‘Eggs Benny’, a try.
Olive & Anchor
Address: 6418 Bay St, West Vancouver, BC V7W 2H1, Canada
Phone: +1 604-921-8848
For something casual with a hint of refinement, Olive & Anchor provides a traditional tavern setting, complete with pub fare and a wide selection of draft beer.
Want our advice? Get the ‘Korean Hot Stone Bibimbap’. It’s got shaved ribeye (which you can switch with tofu), a bunch of veggies, and delicious Gochujang hot paste that adds a spicy kick to the dish.
Horseshoe Bay Chinese Restaurant
Address: 6612 Royal Ave, West Vancouver, BC V7W 2B9, Canada
Phone: +1 604-921-8828
Chinese restaurants are a dime in a dozen in Vancouver, and the Horseshoe Bay Chinese Restaurant is no exception. Food here has light seasoning—nothing oily, fresh, and, of course, delicious.
From the chicken with black bean sauce, special fried rice, and chicken chow mein to the sweet and sour pork, every dish here pretty much hits the spot. Just don’t forget to pair your meal with the special hotpot, which is a crowd favorite.
C-Lovers Fish & Chips
Address: 6640 Royal Ave, West Vancouver, BC V7W 2B8, Canada
Phone: +1 604-913-0994
C-Lovers Fish & Chips has been on the block since ’84. The secret to their fish and chips is their homemade sauce, which can satisfy even those who are not big fans of tartar sauce (you can squeeze out as much as you want).
We’d suggest trying the haddock instead of the cod since they have quite a similar flavor, especially after that deep-frying, but the haddock comes in a bigger portion.
Mangia e Bevi
Address: 2222 Marine Dr, West Vancouver, BC V7V 1K4, Canada
Phone: +1 604-922-8333
For traditional Italian fare, head to Mangia e Bevi for delicious antipasti and refreshing insalate (salad). The inside is upscale, with white tablecloths, wooden chairs, a carpeted walkway, and a few portraits that feature art and Italian culture.
The real standout here is definitely the ravioli. Everything about it, from the texture to the flavor, not to mention that amazing sage brown butter sauce, is simply phenomenal.
Things to Do in Horseshoe Bay
Explore Whytecliff Park
Address: 7102 Marine Dr, West Vancouver, BC V7W 2T3, Canada
Phone: +1 604-925-7275
Along the western shoreline of West Vancouver is Whytecliff Park, where you can spend time relishing the stunning views of nearby islands, mountains, and marine wildlife.
When the tide is low, you can climb on Islet Rock and spot seals sunbathing and scuba divers in the bay. But if you’re here to relax, the park’s well-equipped with concessions, washrooms, and picnic tables.
Drop by Horseshoe Bay Park
Address: West Vancouver, BC V7W 3H5, Canada
Horseshoe Bay Park is a nice park with fantastic views of the water, private boats, and BC ferries. Just kick back, soak in the park’s beauty, and let the sound of the waves do its thing.
They’ve got plenty of shaded chairs and tables right by the water trails, and there are some restaurants around the park, some a bit of a walk, but they’re all pretty nearby.
Hike the Whyte Lake Trail
Address: West Vancouver, BC V0N 1G0, Canada
The Whyte Lake Trail is where the sound of traffic dissipates. The trail is nestled in the forests of West Vancouver, where wildlife thrives and accompanies hikers together with the tranquil sounds of nature.
The trail takes no more than 90 minutes (including rest stops), and it’s well-marked and maintained. If you spot a lake, don’t dive in as it’s not suitable for swimming.
Go on a Sea Safari
Address: 6409 Bay St, West Vancouver, BC V7W 3H5, Canada
Phone: +1 604-921-3474
The Sea Safari Boat Tour takes guests on an inflatable boat to the Howe Sound coastline, where you’ll come across Anvil Island, Bowen Island caves, and even get up close and personal with marine life.
These tours are composed of a small group of people and a tour guide, so expect a more intimate experience. You’ll get to learn about the history and ecology of the area.
Go Snorkeling with Seals
Address: 6373 Bruce St, West Vancouver, BC V7W 2G5, Canada
Phone: +1 604-329-3486
The Snorkel, Kayak, and Seal Adventure with Sea Dragon Charters will take you to Pam Rocks in Howe Sound, where a seal colony is waiting to snorkel with you!
And that’s not all, you can also catch sight of loads of birds from the nearby bird sanctuary, bald eagles, and a whole bunch of marine creatures.
Visit Lighthouse Park
Address: 7210 Arbutus Rd, West Vancouver, BC V7W 2L5, Canada
To reach the actual lighthouse, you’d need to hike through an old grown forest with gentle hills, a number of uneven terrains, and some steeper climbs along the inlet.
Don’t worry, there are a few benches where you can rest and catch your breath. But when you get to the lighthouse, it makes all the huffing and puffing worth it (you can’t go in though).
Check Out the Scenery at the West Vancouver Marina
Address: 5908 Marine Dr, West Vancouver, BC V7W 2S1, Canada
Just north of Lighthouse Park is the West Vancouver Marina, where you can watch boats and ferries go in and out of the harbor. There’s not a lot to do here except admire the picturesque view of the waters and surrounding mountains.
But, if you’re game, the marina’s got yearly and seasonal docking options that’ll get you right to those stunning spots for boating and fishing.
Go to Caulfield Park
Address: 4712 Dogwood Ln, West Vancouver, BC V7W 1J1, Canada
Phone: +1 604-925-7275
Exploring Caulfield Park’s cliffside trails gives you a pretty awesome, and not to mention, panoramic view of the Vancouver Harbor—from the Lions Gate Bridge, Stanley Park, and Kitsilano and Jericho Beach.
This park’s a hidden gem, not too crowded, and it even has a cozy little sandy beach. Plus, there are plenty of trails that wind their way around the whole park, from one tip of the peninsula to charming Caulfield Bay.
Watch the Sunset at Tall Trees Park
Address: Gleneagles Pl, West Vancouver, BC V7W 3A1, Canada
Phone: +1 604-9257-200
Tall Trees Park is right at the bottom of Gleneagles Place and can be accessed by a short staircase down to the beach. At the base of the stairs, you’ll find a concrete slab and picnic table (and yes, there are plenty of tall trees).
Head to Cypress Falls Park
Address: Woodgreen Pl, West Vancouver, BC V7S 2V6, Canada
Cypress Falls Park is one of the better-known must-visit spots in West Vancouver. The hike begins at the entrance to the forest on Wood Green Road, and within a few minutes, you are surrounded by trees and foliage with a clearly marked trail.
At the end of the hike, you’re rewarded by a breathtaking waterfall, which cascades down a series of rocky cliffs into a pool below.