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English Bay

Stretch out on the sands, swim in the sea, and amble along the shoreline of this gently curving urban beach. 

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.


Guide to Exploring English Bay Inukshuk


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Pan Pacific Vancouver £197
Pan Pacific Vancouver

Pan Pacific Vancouver

999 Canada Pl, Vancouver, BC
     
    4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located near the slopes, this Coal Harbour hotel is situated in the city centre and within a 5-minute walk of Canada Place, Granville Street and Vancouver Convention Centre. Robson Street and Queen Elizabeth Theatre are also within 15 minutes. Waterfront Metro Station and Vancouver Waterfront Station are within a 5-minute walk.

    Fairmont Hotel Vancouver £187
    Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

    Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

    900 West Georgia St, Vancouver, BC
       
      4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located near the slopes, this Downtown Vancouver hotel is situated in the city centre and within a 5-minute walk of Christ Church Cathedral, Robson Street and Granville Street. Pacific Centre Shopping Mall and Vancouver Art Gallery are also within 5 minutes. Vancouver City Center Station and Burrard Station are within a 5-minute walk.

      Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront £210
      Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront

      Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront

      1133 Hastings St W, Vancouver, BC
         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located near the slopes, this Coal Harbour hotel is situated in the city centre and 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.

        Best Western Plus Sands £79
        Best Western Plus Sands

        Best Western Plus Sands

        1755 Davie St, Vancouver, BC
           
          3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          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.

          Sandman Hotel Vancouver City Centre £80
          Sandman Hotel Vancouver City Centre

          Sandman Hotel Vancouver City Centre

          180 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC
             
            3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            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.

            Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre £166
            Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre

            Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre

            1088 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Downtown Vancouver, this golf 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 10 minutes by foot and Yaletown-Roundhouse Station is 11 minutes.

              Century Plaza Hotel & Spa £107
              Century Plaza Hotel & Spa

              Century Plaza Hotel & Spa

              1015 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC
                 
                3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located near the slopes, this West End hotel is in the city centre and within a 10-minute walk of Orpheum Theater, Robson Square and Vancouver Art Gallery. Pacific Centre Shopping Mall and Canada Place are also within 1 mi (2 km). Burrard Station is 10 minutes by foot and Vancouver City Center Station is 11 minutes.

                Sylvia Hotel £118
                Sylvia Hotel

                Sylvia Hotel

                1154 Gilford St, Vancouver, BC
                   
                  3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in West End, this beachfront hotel is in the city centre and within a 10-minute walk of English Bay Beach, Robson Street and Sunset Beach. Stanley Park and Vancouver Aquarium are also within 1 mile (2 km). Burrard Station is 28 minutes by foot and Yaletown-Roundhouse Station is 29 minutes.