Sunset Beach is a popular urban beach in Vancouver’s West End. Aptly named, it is a very popular beach to watch the sunset, and with its location along the seawall, it is super easy to access. This beach has all the amenities you need for the perfect beach day, and with the seawall, park, roller rink, and volleyball nets, you can find entertainment for the whole day.
Where is Sunset Beach?
Located on the Vancouver seawall system, Sunset Beach sits between the Burrard Bridge and English Bay Beach in Vancouver’s West End neighborhood. Sunset Beach stretches from Thurlow to Broughton street along Beach Avenue.
Walking the seawall to Sunset Beach
I live on the Vancouver mainland, so I have to cross a bridge to get to Sunset Beach. The seawall does connect all the way from Kitsilano to Downtown, however, it is quite a long walk. You can just as easily take a detour across the Cambie, Granville, or Burrard bridges, depending on where you’re coming from. My favorite bridge to walk across is the Burrard Bridge because of its beautiful architecture, protected walking path, and gorgeous views of the English Bay. You can see all the way to the North Shore!
From the Burrard Bridge you can take the west exit down the stairs to Beach Ave, and across to the seawall. Sunset Beach is just a few minutes from the bridge heading west along the seawall. The Vancouver seawall system is a shared bike and walking path, so be sure to stay on your designated path, and look out for bike path closures. If you continue along the seawall west you will arrive at English Bay Beach.
About Sunset Beach
Sunset Beach is a beach in Vancouver’s West End neighborhood that attracts folks from all over the city. The beach overlooks Vanier Park across the water and sits on the north shore of False Creek. False Creek is a channel of water where the English Bay narrows and divides Granville Island and the Vancouver mainland from Downtown Vancouver. Further west from Sunset Beach is English Bay, and further along the seawall into Stanley Park are Second and Third Beach. To the east, you get an amazing view of the Burrard Bridge, and to the west, you can see West Vancouver on the North Shore, and Bowen Island beyond it. On the west side of the beach, there is a large sculpture, “ARCOS” that was moved to Sunset Beach for the 2007 Vancouver Biennale, a large international art festival.
What to do at Sunset Beach
There are all the typical beach activities to do at Sunset Beach, like swimming, tanning, and picnicking, along with some other fun things to stay entertained on a beach day.
Play beach volleyball
There is a single volleyball court at Sunset Beach for you to enjoy with the beautiful view of False Creek and the Burrard Bridge. A volleyball net can be borrowed from the lifeguard station attached to the main concession building, but you must bring your own ball.
Utilize the roller hockey rink
There is a free-to-use outdoor roller hockey rink on the western side of Sunset Beach. The rink is also used for skateboarding and other sports.
Have a picnic or play games in the park
Just above Sunset Beach is Sunset Beach Park, a large open grassy area that many use to picnic or play games such as soccer. The park is a very popular hangout, and several events like Vancouver Pride are hosted here each summer! It’s a great spot to lay out for a picnic if you don’t want to get sandy from the beach.
Stay and watch the sunset
Named accordingly, Sunset Beach is an amazing and very popular spot to watch the sunset. You can find a spot on the beach, or along the seawall on one of the many benches or grassy areas. Sunset Beach faces southwest, so you can watch the entire sunset from the beach.
Sunset Beach concession stand
At the center of the beach is the concession stand. Attached to the concession stand are also the lifeguard station on the left, and restrooms on either side. The concession stand is managed by the Vancouver Parks and Recreation Board, and shares a menu with several other beach concession stands, like Spanish Banks and Second Beach, and Third Beach. Sunset Beach is a slightly smaller beach, so the menu is a bit more basic than the others, but there are still a variety of options to choose from. The menu offers burgers, fries, veggie burgers, and more. There are also cold and hot drinks available for purchase, as well as ice cream and popsicles. There are picnic tables surrounding the concession stand as well as additional seating close to the roller rink to the right.
The pros and cons of Sunset Beach
Let’s start with the pros. Sunset Beach is an extremely accessible beach. Like English Bay and Kits beach, you are just a hop skip, and a jump from the city, so getting to the beach by car, or public transit is not a challenge. The beach is also easily accessed by bike or foot along the seawall. The public washrooms and concession stand also take any preparation out of the question if you just want an easy beach day without packing a big picnic. The volleyball court and roller rink can keep you busy and active, and the park surrounding the beach is a great spot to get some shade or have a picnic. The view of the Burrard Bridge, as well as the west, is amazing, and you can get some breathtaking sunsets here too.
Now for the cons. Because Sunset Beach is so close to the city, it is not the cleanest, or quietest. It is certainly not a peaceful beach oasis, but it is great for what it is. Though it isn’t permitted, it isn’t uncommon for people to smoke and sometimes litter on the beach. There are lifeguards on duty, but only on one section of the beach. If you are bringing small children, I recommend staying on the easternmost side of the beach, as it is the quietest. The sand can be quite dusty, so you’ll definitely want to sit on a blanket. Additionally, there is quite a bit of boat traffic, and several nearby marinas on False Creek, so the water is not the most pristine. The water is absolutely fine to swim in, but just don’t expect crystal clear water.
Overall, for what it is, a city beach, Sunset Beach is an excellent choice. It is a designated quiet beach, so it is much calmer than English Bay. It is also smaller and less populated than English Bay or Second Beach. It is very easy to access, there are all the amenities you need, like concession and public restrooms, and you get some amazing views. If you are looking to escape the city, then Sunset Beach might not be your best option, but if you are looking for a chill and easy beach experience, Sunset Beach is one of the best in the city.
FAQs about Sunset Beach
Is there parking at Sunset Beach?
Yes, there is a parking lot for Sunset Beach off of Beach Ave between Jervis and Broughton St. There are additional handicapped parking spaces closer to the beach which can be accessed from Bute Street and Beach Ave.
Are there public restrooms at Sunset Beach?
Yes, there are public restrooms attached to the concession building, as well as a public outdoor shower.
Is Sunset Beach busy?
Sunset Beach is a relatively small beach, so it can fill up in the summer. It is however less busy than English Bay Beach. During the summer you can expect to share the beach with many others on weekends and holidays. The far east side of Sunset Beach, at the Water Taxi dock, is typically quieter and occupied by families.