Ultimate Urban Kayak Escape – Spanish Banks to False Creek


View of Science World Photo: Rob Weiss

Sitting in our kayaks, with bows pointed towards the North Shore Mountains, we were faced with a difficult decision.  To our left, open ocean, the call of Wreck Beach and the natural splendour of Pacific Spirit Regional Park and to the right the urban oasis known as Vancouver.  This is the thrill of launching from the expansive beaches of Spanish Banks.  After much discussion, we decided to head to town.  The glistening towers lining English Bay and Yaletown were like beacons guiding us towards the protected waters of False Creek.


Vancouver skyline Photo: Rob Weiss

Paddling past Jericho Beach and the Jericho Sailing Centre, we watched in delight as sailors took to the waters, testing their mettle against the afternoon winds.  It was easy to imagine them sailing off into the sunset.  This area is usually a beehive of activity, as watersport enthusiasts regularly launch crafts of all shapes and sizes.  Today was no exception and we were careful to navigate our way past the beginner sailors, not quite sure they had the skill or ability to avoid us should our paths cross.

Leaving the excitement and “chaos” of Jericho Beach, we enjoyed paddling along the Point Grey seawall towards Kitsilano beach.  The anonymity of the kayak enabled us to travel close to the impressive Point Grey mansions.  We imagined ourselves sipping cocktails on their extraordinary decks.  As we arrived at Kits beach, we remarked on the unique mix of urban and natural beauty we had encountered.  During our short paddle, we had already spotted seals, herons and eagles.  How marvelous to be encountering wildlife, while visiting some of Vancouver’s busiest beaches.


Float Homes at Granville Island Photo: Rob Weiss

Without question, the highlight of this paddling route is the circumnavigation of False Creek.  Burrard Bridge proudly stands as a type of gateway to the inner harbour.  As we paddled under the bridge, I felt like we were entering wonderland.  Granville Island loomed to our right and the towers of Yale Town glimmered to the left.  Quirky and quaint floating homes lined the banks of Granville Island. Luxurious yachts shared the waters with Dragon boats and paddle boards.  From the comfort of our kayaks, we thoroughly enjoyed the sights and sounds of some of Vancouver’s trendiest neighbourhoods.  From BC Place to Science World we eagerly took in all that False Creek has to offer.  As we blissfully paddled along, it struck us that this was the ultimate urban kayak escape.  Thank you Vancouver!


False Creek Photo: Rob Weiss

Route Tips:

  • Spanish Banks is located on Northwest Marine Drive.
  • Parking is free
  • Although the waters may appear calm and inviting, never underestimate the sea and the power of Mother Nature. The wind and waves can and will pick up quickly in English Bay.  Before venturing out, check the Marine Forecast and ensure you are carrying proper safety equipment.

Launching kayaks from Spanish Banks Photo: Rob Weiss

  • Check and recheck your Tide Tables. At low tide, you will be faced with a considerably long and potentially exhausting portage from water’s edge to the parking lot.  In fact, at low tide the water is one km from shore!
  • While touring False Creek, be sure to paddle by the newly opened Southeast False Creek Paddling Centre. This 3.2-million-dollar investment, features storage buildings, floating docks and improved accessibility for Vancouver’s paddling community.
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