10 Best Vancouver Island Beaches | Your Guide from a Local

Have you been wondering about the best Vancouver Island beaches? I’ve got you covered!

Welcome to my guide on the best beaches of Vancouver Island—a place I’m lucky enough to call home. Having explored numerous beautiful beaches on the island, I’m thrilled to share my personal favourites and hidden gems with you.

My love for beach destinations isn’t limited to just this beautiful island; I’ve travelled to 24 different countries, I and pick destinations mostly based on their incredible coastlines as I love being near the ocean.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveller and live on the island like me or planning your first trip to this picturesque part of Canada, my goal is to give you all the insights you need to make your trip memorable. From the vast, sandy expanses of Long Beach in the Pacific Rim to local favourites like Kye Bay, there’s plenty to explore so it can be tricky to know where to start! 

Join me as we explore the best spots to unwind, soak up the sun, and create lasting memories on one of Canada’s most stunning destinations.

10 Best Vancouver Island beaches

1. San Josef Bay

Nestled on Vancouver Island, San Josef Bay presents a serene beach pathway flanked by ancient, mossy rock formations and evergreen trees, under a sky painted with the soft glow of sunset.

San Josef Bay, nestled within Cape Scott Provincial Park on the northern tip of Vancouver Island, is celebrated for its pristine beauty and accessible wilderness. If you’re looking for a spectacular white sandy beach, this is the spot. 

A relatively easy 45-minute hike leads visitors to this coastal gem, making it an ideal destination for those looking to experience the ruggedness of Cape Scott without an arduous trek. Despite its remote location, the area is a haven for wildlife, including bears, wolves, and cougars, necessitating visitors to be prepared and practice Leave No Trace principles to preserve its untouched beauty. 

The bay has been recognised for its stunning landscape and was ranked among the world’s best beaches!

2. Saratoga Beach

Saratoga Beach, nestled at the north end of the Comox Valley between Courtenay and Campbell River, is known for its expansive stretch of white sand along the sheltered east coast. The beach has shallow warm waters that make it great for swimming as the water on Vancouver Island is known for being pretty cold! 

The waters are calm and the beach is easy to access with lots of parking nearby. Basic amenities include toilets and picnic areas. There’s plenty of natural beauty for you to enjoy, with views of the mainland mountains across the Strait of Georgia and lush, forests. If you’re looking for a peaceful place to read a good book, this is the spot!

The area around Saratoga Beach is where you’ll find other popular hotspots such as Miracle Beach Provincial Park and Oyster River Regional Park.

3. Chesterman Beach

A tranquil morning on one of Vancouver Island's picturesque beaches, Chesterman Beach in Tofino, reflecting on the serene expanse of sand and the calm Pacific waters.

Chesterman Beach, located near Tofino on Vancouver Island’s Pacific Rim National Park, is a favourite among both locals and tourists. I love this beach, if you happen to visit in the morning when the tides out be prepared for some pretty spectacular reflections. It’s a very scenic beach and It was definitely my second favourite beach in Tofino (after Cox’s Bay!).

Known for its excellent surf conditions throughout the year, it’s considered a top spot for learning to surf and there are several surf schools nearby. The beach features a unique island, called Frank Island which is accessible during low tide and is a popular location for kayaking, paddle boarding, and enjoying awesome sunsets. 

Here you have basic amenities such as parking and toilets but not much beyond that. It’s also worth noting that you have to pay for parking here.

4. Long Beach

Crystal-clear waters lap at the expansive shores of Long Beach near Tofino, a jewel among Vancouver Island beaches, with its glistening sands.

As one of the most iconic and popular beaches, visiting Long Beach, is definitely one of the best things to do on Vancouver Island. Extending 16 km along the west coast in the Pacific Rim National Park, it is known for its huge stretches of sand, making it the longest beach in the area, hence the name! It’s a haven for surfers of all levels, offering panoramic ocean views and consistent surf throughout the year. The brilliant blue sea looks amazing on a sunny day!

Tofino is known for being super busy in the summer which is of course when most people want to visit the beach but I really enjoyed our time here in April. It was quite enough that you could take in the amazing scenery but there were still enough people around to not feel deserted. 

Easily accessible from Highway 4 and a parking lot close to the beach, it remains a popular spot. Like most other beaches in Tofino, you have to pay for parking here.

5. China Beach

China Beach, located near Jordan River in the Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, is a great alternative for those seeking a West Coast beach experience without travelling up to Pacific Rim National Park. Known for its soft sand, it’s a lesser-known gem that is well worth a visit. It’s pretty secluded but the scenery is stunning! 

To access the beach you’ll walk down a trail through the forest, the trail is pretty well-maintained too but it does have some steep sections. China Beach marks the beginning of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, a challenging and scenic 47-kilometre hike along the coastline that attracts travellers from all around the world. 

The ocean here can be pretty rough so if you’re not a strong swimmer make sure you take extra care. It’s also possible to camp at China Beach so it’s the perfect spot for a weekend getaway.

6. Botanical Beach

Gentle waves roll onto the dark sands of Botanical Beach, one of Vancouver Island's natural coastal wonders. The distant horizon blends seamlessly with the tranquil waters, capturing the essence of the picturesque and diverse Vancouver Island beaches.

Botanical Beach, located near Port Renfrew on the west coast of Vancouver Island, is known for its rich tidal pools and diverse marine life. Also located within Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, the best time to visit this beach is at low tide so you can explore the tide pools.

Make sure you keep an eye out for colourful marine creatures such as starfish, sea urchins, and anemones. Remember just to look and not touch in order to protect this fragile environment.

Botanical Beach can be accessed via a trail that winds through the forest before heading down to the beach. The trail is part of a loop that connects with nearby Botany Bay. There are basic facilities such as parking and toilets at the trailhead, but amenities are limited once on the beach so make sure you bring some snacks and water with you if you’re planning on staying for a while. 

7. Mystic Beach

Mystic Beach dazzles with its rugged cliffs draped in verdant greenery, framing a serene beach. This hidden gem epitomises the unspoiled beauty found at Vancouver Island beaches.

Mystic Beach, again located in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park just west of Sooke, offers an essential West Coast experience with its 2km trail leading to stunning ocean views and tide pools beaming with sea life. The walk down to the beach through the forest is all part of the experience, if it’s been raining you’ll want to make sure you have proper footwear as it can be a bit slippery when it’s wet. 

One of the best, and most well-known features of this beach is the picturesque waterfall that flows down onto the sand. It creates a gorgeous backdrop and makes this beach feel so scenic and peaceful. The beach is sandy and it’s possible to camp in the designated areas. Facilities are minimal so make sure you come prepared and take everything you bring with you so you leave no trace. 

Mystic Beach is a hotspot for observing grey whales during their migration, as well as seals and sea lions in pursuit of fish. The beach’s remote location makes it a bit of a hidden gem. 

8. Miracle Beach

Miracle Beach Provincial Park, nestled between Courtenay and Campbell River on Vancouver Island’s east coast, is known for its expansive sandy shores. The waters are pretty warm (ish) so it’s a good spot to cool off and relax in the summer months.

Like a few other beaches on this list, at low tide you’ll be able to enjoy the tide pools and look out for mini marine life like crabs and starfish.

There are a few amenities here that make it a great place to spend the day such as picnic tables, toilets and cold water taps. There’s even a playground for kids so it’s a pretty popular area with families. If a day isn’t long enough for you then you can spend a night or two camping here for a bit of a beach vacation.

9. Cox Bay

The first light of day gently warms Cox Bay in Tofino, as the peaceful beach, marked with rippled sand, is caressed by the Pacific's gentle waves, all set against a backdrop of forested hills shrouded in morning mist.

Cox Bay is a popular beach with surfers and tourists, famed for its consistent beach break due to its west-facing direction and the 1.5 km long beach’s shape. It’s a pretty spectacular beach and it was my favourite spot in Tofino, especially for sunset!

We spent a weekend here staying at Pacific Sands and visited the beach multiple times a day.

Luckily we were treated to an amazing sunset on our first night along with an incredible sunrise the following morning. Due to the beach’s location, it is the perfect spot for watching the sunset but there’s something magical about getting up at sunrise and getting to enjoy the beach without anyone else around – I would highly recommend setting that alarm clock! 

10. Kye Bay

Kye Bay, located near Comox on Vancouver Island, is cherished for its picturesque sandy beaches and shallow tidal pools. The warmth of the sun-heated sand makes the incoming tide waters particularly warm, perfect for swimming and exploring the expansive reef. At low tide, there’s plenty of room to walk and explore. The beach is known for its sandbanks too and offers a quiet escape than some of the more popular beaches on this list.

You access the beach from Kye Bay Road, follow this until you come across a small parking lot. It does fill up pretty fast so get here early if you want to get a spot, otherwise there’s some more parking if you take the road to the left and drive to the end of this. 

FAQs about the best beaches on Vancouver Island

Does Vancouver Island have sandy beaches?

Yes! Although rugged and pebbly coastlines are more common, Vancouver Island does have a number of beautiful sandy beaches. Saratoga Beach near Campbell River, is noted for its fine, white sand and shallow, warm waters. Then Long Beach, located in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, boasts long stretches of sandy beach that are perfect for walking and enjoying beach activities. 

Over in Tofino, Chesterman Beach offers a stunning sandy expanse where visitors can enjoy surfing, walking along the shore, or simply watching the sunset. 

Then Kye Bay near Comox features an expansive sandy shoreline with scenic views, providing a peaceful retreat for visitors seeking tranquillity and natural beauty. Other sandy spots include Parksville Beach and Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park which is also in Parksville.

What is the warmest beach on Vancouver Island?

The warmest beach on Vancouver Island is typically found at Parksville Beach. Located on the east coast of the island, Parksville Beach is renowned for its mild, shallow waters that warm up quickly in the sun. This makes it a popular spot, especially in the summer months when the water temperatures can be quite comfortable for swimming. 

The beach is part of a sheltered bay, which helps to keep the waters calm and warm compared to more exposed coastal areas. This welcoming environment makes it an ideal destination for those looking to enjoy a swim or just relax by the sea.

Final Thoughts: Best beaches Vancouver Island

By now I’m sure you’ve realised that Vancouver Island is a treasure trove of diverse and stunning beaches, each offering its own unique charm and appeal. From the surf-centric waves of Cox Bay and the remote, scenic shores of San Josef Bay to the popular and picturesque Chesterman Beach, there’s a perfect spot for every type of beach lover.

These beaches, along with others like Long Beach, Saratoga Beach, and Kye Bay, showcase the best of what Vancouver Island has to offer. So far my favourite beach has been Cox Bay, you really can’t beat the spectacular sunsets here!! 

Whether you’re in search of adventure, a peaceful retreat, or on the hunt to discover the next hidden gem the beaches here provide a pretty great starting point for experiencing the best of the Vancouver Island coastline. So pack your togs and your beach bag and start planning your trip ASAP!