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Ambleside Beach, West Vancouver – Everything You Need to Know

Photo collage of Ambleside Beach in West Vancouver, BC

Our family loves Ambleside Beach.  We live in the Blueridge neighborhood in North Vancouver but often drive the 15 to 20 minutes to get to Ambleside.

It’s the largest public beach on the North Shore (North and West Vancouver).

It’s more than just a beach though. It’s a place your entire family can enjoy all day in the Summer.  It’s even busy in the off-season.

If you’re thinking of going to Ambleside, but aren’t sure what to expect or have questions about what’s there and what it looks like, keep reading. This is my “everything you need to know about Ambleside Beach” article.  Another way to view this article is a list of 25 things to do at Ambleside Beach.

Where is Ambleside Beach?

It’s in West Vancouver, which is on the North Shore (North of downtown Vancouver).  Specifically, it’s just off Marine Drive. We usually enter off 13th Street which leads right into the park and parking lots.

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Long and deep SANDY beach

Ambleside beach view of Stanley Park

Ambleside Beach looking out into English Bay

West bound view of Ambleside beach looking at West Vancouver

There are many beach areas throughout Vancouver but a good number of them are more rocky than sandy.  Ambleside is a sandy beach which makes it great.

The beach stretches a long way and is plenty deep to accommodate a ton of beachgoers.  The beach is peppered with large logs offering great areas to set up for the day.

FYI, Kits Beach is also sandy but it’s south of downtown Vancouver.

Water gets reasonably warm in Summer for swimming (for Vancouver beaches)

Don’t expect Caribbean warm but it’s also not glacier lake cold. The water at Ambleside is usually a good swimming temperature. When it’s really hot out, it’s perfect. 

Not all that rocky

At most British Columbia beaches I wear water shoes because of all the small rocks and pebbles.  However, Ambleside beach is fairly sandy even in the water. The last time I was there I went in with bare feet and had no problem.

Spectacular view of English Bay, Lion’s Gate Bridge, West Vancouver and Stanley Park

View of Lion's Gate Bridge and Stanley Park from Ambleside Beach

To the east of Ambleside is Lion’s Gate Bridge and Stanley Park pictured above.

Fun playground for kids

Playground at Ambleside Beach

Playground at Ambleside Beach

Covered sitting area at playground at Ambleside Beach

This is my favorite playground structure – perfect for parents to sit and watch their kids on the playground.

You might get lucky and see a tanker and/or cruise ship pass by

Tanker in English Bay viewed from Ambleside Beach

Cruise ship going past Ambleside Beach

All the tankers and cruise ships going in and out of Vancouver pass by Ambleside Beach so it’s an exciting ship viewing beach.  When those monstrous boats pass by it looks like they are so close.

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An excellent concession stand and restaurant for when you get hungry

Concession and restaurant at Ambleside Beach

The Boat Shed restaurant menu at Ambleside Beach

For a beach concession and restaurant, this is very, very good.  You can get a table inside or on the patio or order take-out.  The food is good. Many drink options.  They also sell popsicles and a variety of other ice cream treats.  Yes, you can buy booze too.  

Keep in mind the food is very expensive. You can see for yourself above on the menu.

Zip around the skate park 

Skate park at Ambleside Beach

Skate park at Ambleside Beach

Ambleside Beach and park is a huge area so adding the skate park was a great idea. It can get busy. It’s a fun place for skaters.  

Large fields and grassy areas for those who prefer picnicking in grassy areas

Large grassy area at Ambleside Beach

If you’re into tossing the ball or prefer sitting on grass, there’s no shortage of options at Ambleside Beach.  This is one of two large grassy areas.

Picnic tables throughout

There aren’t a ton of picnic tables but they are around. We prefer to set up on the beach instead of at a picnic table.

Free parking? You bet but it gets crowded on sunny weekends

Parking throughout Ambleside Beach park area

Back parking lot at Ambleside Beach

There’s parking throughout the park.  Until recently, it was impossible to get a spot but then they opened up the back lot pictured above.  We’ve yet to go and not be able to get a spot there.  It’s all free parking.

Shaded areas off the beach if you get too hot

Shady areas off the beach at Ambleside Beach

If you prefer to cool off in the shade instead of the sun, there are many treed areas just off the beach where you can set up and stay cool.

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Outstanding restaurants nearby

If the Boat Shed doesn’t do it for you, Earls and Ancora restaurants are steps away.  Earls is casual but has good food. Ancora is pricey and decent. I’ve eaten at both.  Ancora food is better but it’ll cost ya.

Stone’s throw from Park Royal in case you want to end your beach day in an air-conditioned movie theater or need to pick something up on the way home

Park Royal mall is a couple minutes east of Ambleside.  Sometimes it’s great to end a hot day in the movie theater which you can do at Park Royal.  

Yes, you can walk to Park Royal mall from Ambleside. There’s a trail. It’s 5 to 10 minutes, depending on where you are on the beach.  Park Royal offers several restaurants to dine at.

Large public bathrooms and change rooms.

Entrance to change rooms at Ambleside Beach

Ambleside has large public change rooms and bathrooms set in the same building as the concession which is located about dead center on the beach.

FAQs

Are there hotels nearby to stay at?

No, there are no hotels nearby.  The North Shore does not off many hotels whatsoever.  The closest decent hotel is the Pinnacle at Lonsdale Quay but you have to drive there.  Otherwise, most folks stay in downtown Vancouver.

Can you camp overnight at Ambleside Beach?

No, you cannot camp overnight at Ambleside Beach. It’s not a campground.

Are there lifeguards at Ambleside Beach?

Sometimes there are lifeguards. There are two lifeguard tower chairs on the beach. If it’s a concern for you, take a look to see if they’re on duty and if so, you might opt to sit near their location.  It’s a large beach; too big for two lifeguards to fully monitor.

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Can you drink alcohol at Ambleside Beach?

Yes, but only in certain parts. Click here for a diagram showing where you can drink alcohol at Ambleside Beach.

Is Ambleside worth going to?

You bet it is. It’s a great park and beach.  It’s my favorite swimming spot on the North Shore.