Wreck Beach

Vancouver, British Columbia

Canada's only legally-recognised nudist beach, Wreck Beach is a Vancouver gem whose history of nudism dates back to at least the 1930s.

Wreck Beach
- © Guilhem Velut

The Story of Wreck Beach

Located at the most western point of the University of British Columbia peninsula, Wreck Beach first became popular in the 1920s and 30s, after university buildings were developed nearby.

It being surrounded by sea on one side and sandy cliffs on the other, people soon started making use of the privacy available there. In as early as the 1930s it became known as a de facto nudist beach.

This was made official in 1991 when the Greater Vancouver Regional District recognised it as a clothing-optional beach. It remains the only beach in Canada to have gained such recognition.

- © Miguel Garcia

Is Wreck Beach Worth a Visit?

With unobstructed views across the sea and a backdrop of steep cliffs and thick forests, Wreck Beach is undeniably beautiful. Its waters are cool and its shores are sandy, scattered with huge logs washed up from old logging ships. Best of all, the sunsets are spectacular. It is well worth a visit!

Is Wreck Beach Accessible?

One thing that could be considered a con is, beyond arriving by boat or trekking around the coastline, the only way to reach the beach is via the long, winding wooden staircase of Trail 6, a descent of roughly 240m.

The top of the staircase is easy enough to reach from the university, which has plenty of parking spaces and is on several bus routes, but its foot will be inaccessible to some.

Wreck Beach
- © Jon Watts

What to Expect at Wreck Beach

As it has grown in fame the beach has become increasingly popular. Expect crowds on hot summer days and a fair bit of drinking and loud music as the sun goes down.

Quieter options are available along the coastline. Tower Beach, which is also clothing-optional (and technically still part of Wreck Beach), can be reached by heading right after descending the staircase. And there are further beaches beyond that at the foot of other Trails.

In the cooler months Wreck Beach is more relaxed, a place for hikers and smelt fishers as opposed to partiers.

Vendors can also be found at the south end of the beach, particularly in the summer. These tend to sell food and drink- hotdogs, beer, etc- as well as clothing and jewellery.

Wreck Beach
- © Kyle Pearce

Is Wreck Beach Under Threat

Since the 1970s there have been talks of adding further uni buildings on top of the cliffs, and for just as long there has been resistance from the local community who fear the aesthetic and environmental harm this might cause. Cliff erosion is already an issue and there are worries that the extra weight on top would further exacerbate this.

Further Information About Wreck Beach

There are two concrete towers at the Tower Beach end (no prizes for guessing why it is called that!) These were used for directing Allied planes in WW2, adding a nice extra bit of history to what was already a stunning and fascinating Vancouver gem.

Wreck Beach
- © Colin Knowles

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What you need to know

Wreck Beach
SW Marine Dr, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
Tips before you visit