Looking for the Best Vancouver island Beaches? I would argue that some of the beaches on this list could actually be considered some of the top beaches in the world, let alone the Island. Of course there are many incredible beaches that did not make this list but my favourite type of beach is one that takes a bit of work to get to for those can often be the most beautiful beaches where the crowds tend to be small if not absent all together. Some of the best beach vacations I have experienced did not involve a resort but a beach accessed by foot or paddle where your castle consists of your tent! One of my favourite things to do on Vancouver Island is definitely beach-combing.
1 ) San Josef Bay
Located in Cape Scott Provincial Park at the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island, San Josef Bay can be accessed by an active logging road followed by a short hike through pristine rainforest. Once there, you will have miles of sand to walk, the Cape Scott Trail to trek, and the unique sea stacks to explore between first and second beaches, pictured below. Pack in your camping gear, you will not want to turn around and leave this gem any time soon.
Ancient stacks carved out by the sea
Sunset on Second Beach, San Josef Bay
Endless beach at San Josef Bay
2 ) Brady’s Beach
Located in West Bamfield, Brady’s Beach is a stunner with it’s sea stack rock formations, fine white sand and sweet view of the Deer Group Islands. There are a few different driving routes to Bamfield and they all involve lengthy drives on rough active logging roads, so plan accordingly. There are no roads on West Bamfield, so plan to take the water taxi over then it’s just a 30 minute hike to the beach. The beach has a potable water tap available and the cutest composting outhouse you will ever see, decorated by the awesomely chill local Bamfieldians! We packed in our camping gear and had the whole beach to ourselves until the mind-morning joggers showed up around 10:00 the next morning. Paradise!
Sunset at Brady’s Beach in Bamfield, Vancouver Island
Foggy Morning on Brady’s Beach. Bamfield, Vancouver Island
3 ) Pachena Bay
Pachena Bay is located just outside Bamfield and is the trailhead of the famous West Coast Trail. The privately owned Pachena Bay Campground has all the amenities you would need for camping with a huge number of sites facing the beach. The beach is massive and popular with surfers.
Pachena Bay, outside Bamfield, BC
5 ) Mystic Beach
One of the many stunning beaches on the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, Mystic Beach is accessed via the China Beach trailhead and staying to the right to reach Mystic. Majestic sandstone cliffs, a small waterfall and gorgeous sand make this beach a must see. BONUS – there is a rope swing!
Mystic Beach Waterfall
A foggy day at Mystic Beach
Taking a swing at Mystic Beach
6 ) Sombrio Beach
Not far from Port Renfrew and also part of the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, Sombrio Beach is easily accessed by a short walk from the parking lot. Unfortunately due to this easy access it tends to attract a lot of “car-camper” types and partiers to the point where the authorities have had to lock the gate at the top of the road on May Long weekends to prevent it from turning into a total shit-show. But I have always found the beach big enough to accommodate everyone’s interests really. Hiking to the far east (go left when you reach the beach) you will find the amazing hidden waterfall as well as a sandier section of beach. East Sombrio is also a much quieter place to camp and well worth the effort to get there as you will no doubt escape the lazy arses who drop a kegger down at the base of the trailhead and set up for a weekend long beer-pong frisbee-throwing rap-music free-for-all. Great if you’re into that but if not, go East!
Thick fog slowly rising to the treetops of Sombrio Beach
Hidden waterfall at Sombrio Beach
7 ) Long Beach, Tofino
It’s been a while since I’ve been to Tofino but I will be there over Christmas this year so looking forward to visiting the many beaches the area has to offer. Of course Tofino being Tofino, expect crowds especially in summer but the beaches are ginormous so you never really feel it that bad. I love going in shoulder seasons and winter can be an amazing time to visit and watch the storms roll in! Tofino also offers a huge variety in available accommodations from the uber classy Wickaninnish Inn at several hundred dollars per night to low budget tent camping right on the beach and everything in between.
Long Beach, Tofino
8 ) Sandcut Beach
Sandcut is near Jordan River and access by a short hike through the rainforest. It is a pebble beach and has this stunning waterfall! More and more people are discovering this relatively easy to get to beauty so I’ve found it getting pretty busy especially on a day like the one pictured below. When I shot this picture, we were the only ones there but that was a few years ago now.
Sandcut Beach near Jordan River, BC
9 ) Beach Campsite, Amor Lake
Amor Lake is part of the Sayward Canoe Route north of Campbell River and has many beautiful sandy camp sites to choose from. It’s a paddle-in situation which ensures you will have your site to yourselves for maximum peace and quiet. With nothing but the resident loons to serenade you to sleep there is really nothing else like it that I’ve found on Vancouver Island. I’ve camped here at least once per year for the past 6 years! It’s the only place on the Island I’ve found where I can count on seeing and hearing the loons which as an Ontario native just makes my soul happy.
Amor Lake Beach Site
View from the Amor Lake Beach Campsite
There are a few more Vancouver Island Beaches that I plan to visit in the future as well. What are your recommendations? I would love some suggestions! For more inspiration on places to visit on Vancouver Island check out my Vancouver Island photo gallery.
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