Are you looking for surf, sand and sun? Here are a few of Vancouver Island’s best beaches to explore.
Not everyone can afford to head to the tropics. Luckily for us, Vancouver Island has its own set of beautiful vast sandy beaches (and they are far less busy than the tropical destinations south of the border).
This particular post will look at the best sandy beaches on the East Coast of Vancouver Island.
If you are looking for sandy beaches on the West Coast, please read these two posts:
Vancouver Island’s Best Beaches – East Coast
Location: Black Creek
Located between Courteney to the south and Campbell River to the North, Saratoga Beach is considered one of the best stretches of soft shimmering sand on the sheltered east coast of Vancouver Island. The mile-long gently sloping stretch of beach is the perfect oceanfront playground for children. With the tide extending almost a quarter of a mile out, this area offers warm, shallow and safe swimming conditions, free from powerboat traffic, deep water or strong currents.
It’s also a wonderful spot to discover sea life at low tide. Keep on the lookout for sand dollars, crabs and starfish!
Saratoga Beach is situated between the popular camping and recreational sites at Miracle Beach Provincial Park and Oyster River Regional Park.
From the community of Courtenay travel north on the Inland Hwy (Oceanside Route) approximately 25 kilometres (16 Miles) to Saratoga Beach. The turnoff to Saratoga Beach is exit #144.
With its many shallow tidal pools filled with marine life and the perfect soft sand for building sandcastles, it’s no wonder Kye Bay is known as one of the best beaches for kids. The incoming tide gently washing over the hot sand makes for warm ocean water to swim in too. Kye Bay beach is dog-friendly, and a popular picnic spot for locals. It’s an all-around great beach for the entire family to enjoy!
From Hwy 19A follow Ryan Road to almost the very end and turn right on Military Row (right by the Comox Airforce Museum). At the roundabout take the Knight Road exit. Continue along Knight Road until you find Kye Bay Road, and follow until the very end.
Location: Hornby Island
Nicknamed, Little Hawaii, all that’s missing from this white sandy beach is swaying palm trees. With close to 1 km of fine white sand and warm shallow waters, Tribune Bay is easily one of the most spectacular beaches on the east side of Vancouver Island. The area meets near-tropical temperatures during the summer making it one of the warmest saltwater swimming areas in B.C.
Getting to Hornby Island requires two short ferry rides from Vancouver Island. First take the Denman Island Ferry from Buckley Bay, off Hwy #19a (crossing time 10 minutes). Once on Denman, follow Denman Road to the Hornby Island Ferry terminal. Another 10-minute ferry ride will put you on Hornby Island. From there, follow the main road to the Hornby Island CO-OP, then turn left on Central Road and follow to the park entrance.
Location: Qualicum Beach
This beautiful location offers you beach grasses, wildflowers, and high towering hedges protecting both the grandiose and cabin-like homes lining the tranquil shoreline. The outgoing tide creates warm shallow tide pools that attract both skimboard enthusiasts and children hoping to spot a few sea creatures. This beach allows off-leash dogs at all times of the year, other than during the Brant Geese festival (March 1st – April 30th).
Judges Row is accessed right off Hwy 19A.
There are three access points to the beach.
- There are a few parking stalls at the end of Memorial Drive (right on Hwy 19A)
- A small parking area on your left-hand side just as you turn onto Judges Row (road)
- And another further down Judges Row, which is slightly larger than the second.
Location: Qualicum Beach
This “secret beach” is favoured by Qualicum Beach locals. I recently discovered this beautiful beach, but it has quickly become a favourite. With its vast sandy shoreline, the quietness of Yambury Beach offers a great spot to relax and enjoy your surroundings. I’ve been told that it’s also a spectacular spot to view the sunset.
You will find this beach of off Yambury Road (off Hwy 19A) in the Eaglecrest neighbourhood. There is quite a large parking area off of Yambury. A few more spots can be found a bit further down the highway at the end of Seacrest Place.
If Tribune Bay (mentioned above) is Canada’s Hawaii, then Parksville is Canada’s Riviera. There are very few beaches outside Mexico and the Caribbean that can compare with Parksville’s kilometres of near perfect sandy beaches. During those warm summer days, the water temperature at Parksville Beach can be as high as 20°C in the shallow areas. And even at high tide, the flat beach makes it a safe spot to play or stroll for everyone!
The most prominent beach access is from the Community Park (193 Beachside Drive, off Hwy 19A). Other official access points are located at the ends of Doehle Street, Sutherland Crescent, McMillan Street and Rushton Avenue.
This 2 km long stretch of sandy beach is a famous Parksville landmark, and definitely one of Vancouver Island’s best beaches. The shallow, and ultimately warm, waters make for the best swimming opportunities for young children still learning. At low tide, that same shallow water area becomes nearly a kilometre long stretch of soft sand leading out into the Strait of Georgia.
Rathtrevor Beach fronts many of Parksville’s resorts along Resort Drive, as well as the Provincial Park.
The most convenient public access to this desirable beach is through the provincial park, located at the east end of Parksville off of Highway 19A.
Which one of these beaches do you like to stroll?
Have I missed any of your favourites? Let us know which beach you consider to be one of Vancouver Island’s best beaches in the comments below.
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Sophie was a beautiful, lucky girl to have been so loved. So sorry for your loss.
Thank you so much, Kathy.
Oh no, my secret beaches are no longer a secret! Judges Row and Yambury Beach. Most tourist go to Parksville Beach or Rathtrevor Beach but only a handful of tourist explore those beaches in QB which is great for the locals.
Yes, it is definitely a catch-22. While my business is set up to pass on information to others, I also see the value in keeping great locations under wraps. There is a bit of a reassurance in the fact that approximately 80% of our viewership is local Islanders. 🙂
We will miss the ole Soph, she was lucky to get such a loving family 🙂
Thank you, Kylie. She loved you guys too.
Story’s beach in Port Hardy. Dark sand, lots of sea life and petroglyphs at Fort Rupert reserve.
Thank you, Cecile! Story’s beach is one I have never heard of. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to check it out.