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!
Although I’ve reviewed Cates Park for its playground, and Little Cates as well, I’ve not talked about the beach. Since it took Aiden so long to get over his dislike of being “dirty”, we only started taking him to the beach this summer. And the days of sun have been few and far between until lately!
Rarely brave enough to sit in traffic for some of the sandier beaches, we’ve stayed close to home. Cates Park beach is one such beach, which we’ve been to on our own and with a bunch of the other wonderful families we know. Both times we went the days were overcast, so we didn’t swim in the ocean, but rather looked for shells and crabs under the rocks, played in the sand, and threw rocks into the water. What more could a toddler want?
Access to the beach is easy from the park and there is at least some sand to play in. The waves are more gentle here than at Ambleside, though the view is not so nice as Deep Cove, as far as North Vancouver beach comparisons go.
Panorama Park is located in the heart of Deep Cove, where I grew up. Although the park itself has remained unchanged since I was a little girl, the playground has been modernized.
It’s very easy to spend a day in Deep Cove at Panorama Park. You can relax on the beaches and swim in the ocean, which tends to be a little warmer in the Cove. You can go for lunch at any number of eateries along the strip (Honey’s being my fave) and run around on the grass of the park. The only downside of the park is the washroom facility, which has seen (and smelled) better days.
The playground itself is fairly diverse and friendly to all ages. A word of caution for the slides, as the metal surfaces are very fast. I would suggest holding your toddlers hands or spotting carefully, so they don’t zoom off our over.
Aiden had a great time at Panorama park both times we’ve taken him, including this past weekend with his cousins Jonas and Matias and his Abu. He didn’t want to leave after 2 hours!
I grew up in the Cove, so this park holds a lot of sentimental value to me. That aside, I don’t think you’ll find another park with a view so beautiful!