When it comes to beaches, Vancouver has a lot of options. We really are very lucky. But as parents in North Vancouver, we’ve become kind of lazy about going to the “best” beaches (you know, Jericho or Kits). With young kids still napping, it’s a long trek. Most often we head to Ambleside or Deep Cove or Cates Park. Late this past summer, we realized that Third Beach in Stanley Park is really not that far away! And it is downright amazing!
On days when the tide is out, the beach spans forever with beautiful sand bars. The sand is wonderful here, with fewer rocks for little feet to navigate.
You can get to Third Beach by biking around Stanley Park or alternatively you can drive there. There is a small pay parking lot above the concession stand. Near the end of the summer, it was not a busy beach, but my guess is you need to arrive early to secure your parking on busy summer days!
A couple of weeks ago, we randomly decided to visit Cates Park and were pleasantly surprised to find the tide was out very far. As most parents know, this is always a good thing, either unearthing soft sand to play in, shallow pools to splash in, or a whole host of critters and creatures to explore in and around the rocks.
Cates Park is a more rocky beach, so exploration was key. We joined the hoards of children armed with buckets and shovels to unearth crabs and hermit crabs and bugs of all kinds. We even chanced upon some small sea stars, but I asked the kids to leave them be and talked about the importance of conservation, particularly given the sickness that hit the starfish population last year.
Also “hunting” with us was a majestic heron, who let me get fairly close for some photos and who left some awesome prints in the mud for us to follow.
Anyone know of a handy way to get updates on the tide information? Is there an email list or anything? I never remember to actually check anything (apps or websites), I’m looking for push information. Thanks!
We are leaving for Hawaii in just a few hours! This is our first family vacation since having Aiden, and we are very excited.
As we speak, I’m tidying up the last of my client work before I finish packing and getting organized. It’s a little stressful. But soon… relaxation!
Hopefully Aiden does well on the airplane, as it flies at night. That’s a “who knows” at this point. We will be touching down in Honolulu tonight at 9pm, then heading over to our hotel, the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Thanks to the great advice from friends and from a little research on my own, I was able to determine that Oahu was the best island for us right now. It’s very family oriented with lots of things to do – even an aquarium and zoo! My little Aiden is a social guy, so that was key for me.
After hours of research, we narrowed our hotel choices to ones that had pools specific for kids or toddlers. Though we do plan to spend a lot of time at the beach, thus fair Aiden has been afraid of the ocean, so I wanted a back-up plan. Plus, the variety is nice.
Most hotels only had one pool, since it is a beach culture, but some do specifically offer extra amenities for families. There’s the new Aluani resort on Oahu as well, a Disney-run property. Given that Aiden is still under 2, and not familiar with Disney at all, we felt our dollars were best spent elsewhere. Plus, we wanted a more central location.
We are very excited to be going to the Hilton Hawaiin Village and I will be taking lots of photos of our adventures to post when we get back!
Ambleside is one of the more well-known and well-loved beaches in Vancouver. Situated in West Vancouver, the beach spans a huge area from Lions Gate Bridge all along to about 13th St where you can continue along the waterfront path to many shops and restaurants, to John Lawson Park, or the beautiful seawall walk to Dundarave. The park itself features huge grassy fields for kite flying, a concession, a duck pond, and a playground.
The beach itself is one of the more ‘sandy’ beaches on this side of the water, though it doesn’t compare to beaches in Kits or Second Beach. Being exposed to the ocean traffic as it is, the waves can be quite large here (I have a memory from my own childhood of being pulled under from a large wave).
Depending on the tide, you will either enter the water from the sandy-ish beach or will have to pass through the seaweed / rock belt. Very low tide offers the best sand at waters edge. This is a beach that requires water shoes or sandals no matter the tide. The tidal pools in low tide are fun to search for shells and crabs and for collecting seaweed. Aiden is a little hesitant about the ocean at the moment, and finds the waves here particularly overwhelming, but I’m sure that will fade with time.
The playground isn’t huge, but it does offer some great activities for the really little ones. The ‘water park’ is essentially two fire hydrants with a controlled flow, so Aiden was completely in his element there. There are a couple of slides, some swings, and a playhouse to round out the toys.
A couple of weeks ago, Aiden paid a visit to the ocean for the first time. Considering his intense dislike of dirt is only recently fading, we never bothered to take Aiden to the beach his first summer. Now, however, I see a lot of beach time in our future! Aiden discovered the joys of throwing rocks into the ocean and one sight of the water yesterday had him miming a “throw” action to go back and do it again!
Now, however, I wish I’d gone ahead and purchased Aiden the Pediped sandals! I think I’ll need to put in another order!