Spanish Banks is a hugely popular beach in Vancouver with multiple concession stands, a large park, volleyball nets, and incredible views of Downtown Vancouver and the North Shore. Made up of a series of three beaches all with something special to offer, it would be impossible to not find something to love about Spanish Banks.
Where is Spanish Banks Beach?
Spanish Banks Beach is located in the West Point Grey neighborhood of Vancouver on the south shore of the English Bay. Spanish Banks is the third in a series of three beaches on this shoreline, Jericho Beach, Locarno, and finally Spanish Banks. Further to the west is UBC, and to the east is Kitsilano.
The history of Spanish Banks Beach
Spanish Banks was named after the “meeting of the English under George Vancouver and the Spanish under Galiano and Valdes in June 1792″. It has since been referred to as Spanish Banks as it was the Spanish who were the first Europeans to explore the Strait of Georgia and chart Spanish Banks. In the mid-20th century, the land was leased to the Vancouver Park Board and has since seen some serious development. Spanish Banks is now a popular destination for beachgoers, cyclists, and hikers.
Concession at Spanish Banks
There are not just one, but two concession stands at Spanish Banks. Because Spanish Banks is such a massive stretch of beach, a concession is located on the beach’s east and west sides. The concession stands at Spanish Banks are both operated by Vancouver Parks and Recreation, and share the same menu. There are twelve Vancouver Parks and Recreation concession stands across the city, including at Second Beach and Third Beach in Stanley Park.
The Spanish Banks Beach Cafe offers casual foods like burgers and hot dogs, with some special items like fish & chips, and ramen. They also serve cold drinks, specialty coffees, and ice cream. There is a variety of options to choose from, including vegetarian options. Items on the menu vary from $1 popsicles to a $16 order of fish & chips.
There are plenty of picnic tables surrounding the concession stands to enjoy your food, or you can bring it with you to the park or beach. There are garbage, recycling, and compost bins located at the concession as well to clean up after.
If you can’t find a picnic table right at the concession there are dozens more located in the park, or you can lay out a blanket or find a log to sit on at the beach and enjoy your freshly prepared food.
Spanish Banks east, Spanish Banks west, or Spanish Banks extension?
Spanish Banks is divided into three different areas, east, west and extension. Every end of Spanish Banks has amazing views of the Vancouver skyline, close access to concession, and ocean access, as well as green areas, but they have slightly different rules. The west side for example is a designated quiet zone, meaning no loud music is allowed. Spanish Banks Extension is past the western beach and is a dog off-leash area. Dozens of dog owners come here every day to let their dogs play off-leash, and there is also a small designated beach for off-leash dogs.
The three beaches are all connected by a shared bike and pedestrian pathway that runs along the edge of the beach. Depending on what you’re looking for from Spanish Banks, you’re sure to find it at one of the three beaches.
Volleyball courts at Spanish Banks
Volleyball is a popular activity at Spanish Banks with many competitions and events taking place every summer, as well as open play. There is a total of 8 permanent volleyball courts located at Spanish Banks that are open to play without a reservation. You can rent a volleyball net from the lifeguard station free of charge. All you have to bring is your team spirit and a ball!
Panoramic views of the Vancouver skyline
One of Spanish Bank’s greatest assets is its amazing views of the Vancouver skyline and surrounding mountains. From any spot on the beach, you get breathtaking views of the Downtown Vancouver skyline, Stanley Park, the Lions Gate Bridge, and West Vancouver.
To the east you can even spot the lighthouse at Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver, as well as Bowen Island, and Vancouver Island. The mountains visible in the distance are Cypress Mountian in the west and Seymour mountain in the east. No matter where you lay down your towel, you’ll have an incredible view of Vancouver that’s hard to match anywhere else.
Watching the sunset at Spanish Banks
Because Spanish is completely uninterrupted by the English Bay and faces northwest, it makes for an amazing spot to view the sunset. You’ll be able to watch the sun set behind the horizon to the west. The beach is much quieter at sunset, but because it offers such amazing views there will still be many visitors coming to this destination for this exact reason.
The perfect place for a picnic
There is green space and barbeque designated picnic spots all throughout Spanish Banks. Most of the picnic tables in the park have a metal section to place your barbeque and protect the wooden table from burning.
Spanish Banks is a very popular spot for large family barbeques. Because of the availability of picnic tables, and nearby amenities it makes for the perfect spot for a beach barbeque. I myself even enjoyed a birthday barbeque at Spanish Bank just a few years ago! You can bring in extra tables and chairs to accommodate extra guests, or just use the picnic tables available. Barbequing is only permitted on the designated picnic tables.
Spanish Banks is great for swimming
Spanish Banks is a great spot to take a dip. The beaches are all covered in imported sand, and in the water, the floor is blanketed with smooth stones. You won’t have to walk across slimy rocks or barnacles to access the ocean. At low tide, the water can be as far as 1 kilometer off shore, which means a bit of a walk to the water, but it gives you an even closer view of the north shore. Because the current can be quite strong, the water also stays clear of debris. There are lifeguards on duty at the west and east beaches, but none at the extension or dog beach, so if you are a beginner swimmer, or you’re swimming with children, stick to the beaches with lifeguard stations.
FAQs about Spanish Banks Beach
Is there parking at Spanish Banks?
Yes, there are 5 designated parking lots for Spanish Banks Beach that run along NW Marine Drive.
Is Spanish Banks wheelchair accessible?
Yes, Spanish Banks is wheelchair accessible. There are wheelchair beach mats on the beach, and there are water wheelchairs available for rent at the lifeguard station.
Are there public restrooms at Spanish Banks?
Yes, there are public washrooms attached to the east and west concession buildings.
Is Spanish Banks busy?
Yes, Spanish Banks is busy in the summer. Because it is such a large beach though, you won’t have trouble finding yourself a spot on the sand or grass. The biggest issue for busy days is finding a place to park, and concession lines!
Is Spanish Banks good for kids?
Yes, Spanish Banks is an excellent place to bring the kids. The park is great for playing sports, and there are lots of shady areas provided by willow trees for an escape from the heat. The concession and public washrooms also make it a comfortable spot, and the barbeque-equipped picnic tables are the perfect spot for a family barbeque or birthday party.