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English Bay, a popular beach not far from the city center, features salt air and soft sand. It’s an ideal destination to sunbathe, nap, stroll or picnic. You’ll find cafés, bars and shops across the road in Denman Street, while in nearby Stanley Park there are biking and hiking trails.
English Bay was formally established as a swimming beach in 1893 with the building of a few shacks along the shore for shade and changing. One hundred years previously, Captain George Vancouver, with the British Navy, and Captain Dionisio Galiano, with the Spanish Navy, collaborated in charting the region for their native countries. English Bay, as well as the nearby series of beaches known as Spanish Banks, were both named in honor of this international collaboration.
The views from English Bay are stunning. Swathes of greenery cloak Stanley Park and soaring mountains hug the shore. At the end of the day, join the crowds watching the sun set as the sky turns shades of red, pink, and orange.
The bay hosts two popular annual events. The Celebration of Light International Fireworks Competition held in late July/early August is a three-day carnival of pyrotechnics that light up the night sky with explosions of color. Three competing international teams vie against each other each year to be the brightest spark.
During winter, the beach is the starting point for the annual Polar Bear Swim, a chilly and invigorating plunge into the Pacific on New Year’s Day, a tradition that began in 1920. It attracts people with and without swimming costumes, and some in fancy dress. To take part in the 100-yard (91-meter) swim, you must register (for free) with the Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club before the race.
English Bay is a great destination to stroll to from downtown. It’s also accessible by bus. Street parking is available, but can be tricky to find during the busy summer tourist season.
Give yourself plenty of time at English Bay Inukshuk. Below are some of the most popular things to do:
Vancouver Explorer Private Tour is one of the best activities available here.
Take a look at our Vancouver things to do page to discover more activities while you're in the area.
This family-friendly Vancouver hotel is located in the business district, steps from Christ Church Cathedral, Robson Street, and Vancouver Art Gallery. Granville Street and Pacific Centre Shopping Mall are also within 5 minutes. Vancouver City Center Station and Burrard Station are within a 5-minute walk.
Located in Coal Harbour, this luxury hotel is steps from Canada Place and Granville Street. Vancouver Convention Centre and Harbour Centre are also within 10 minutes. Waterfront Metro Station and Vancouver Waterfront Station are within a 5-minute walk.
Located in Coal Harbour, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 10-minute walk of United States Consulate, Robson Street, and Canada Place. Vancouver Convention Centre and Harbour Centre are also within 10 minutes. Burrard Station is 6 minutes by foot and Waterfront Metro Station is 10 minutes.
Located in West End, this eco-friendly hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Robson Street and Stanley Park. Vancouver Convention Centre and Canada Place are also within 2 mi (3 km). Burrard Station is 26 minutes by foot and Yaletown-Roundhouse Station is 27 minutes.
Located in Downtown Vancouver, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 5-minute walk of St. Paul's Hospital and Granville Street. Robson Street and Sunset Beach are also within 10 minutes. Burrard Station is 11 minutes by foot and Yaletown-Roundhouse Station is 11 minutes.
Located in Coal Harbour, this luxury hotel is steps from Waterfront Centre, Canada Place, and Vancouver Convention Centre. Robson Street and Granville Street are also within 10 minutes. Waterfront Metro Station and Vancouver Waterfront Station are within a 5-minute walk.
Located in Downtown Vancouver, this luxury hotel is steps from Robson Square and Robson Street. Granville Street and Vancouver Art Gallery are also within 5 minutes. Burrard Station is 6 minutes by foot and Vancouver City Center Station is 6 minutes.
Located in Downtown Vancouver, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 5-minute walk of BC Place Stadium and Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Rogers Arena and Granville Street are also within 10 minutes. Stadium-Chinatown Station is only a 3-minute walk and Vancouver City Center Station is 8 minutes.