How to Cold Plunge in the Great Outdoors Around Vancouver

A woman cold plunges in a creek

Photo: Tsunami Green/Unsplash

Combine the health benefits of icy dips with the beauty of nature for a transformative experience. Here’s how to cold plunge in the great outdoors around Vancouver.


What is Cold Plunging?

High-level athletes have known for decades that cold water immersion can enhance recovery by relieving joint pain and inflammation. In the last few years, cold plunging has also been linked with stress relief and an increase in positive mood.

You can cold plunge in specialized tubs at Nordic-style spas and luxury fitness centres, but you can also experience cold water immersion for free by jumping into the ocean or a lake.

Cold plunging is often associated with breath work, a routine of slow, deliberate deep breathing through the nostrils. This breathing technique helps reduce the shock of the cold water. It can also be meditative.


Outdoor Cold Plunging Tips

  • Don’t stay in too long. You can reap the benefits of cold plunging in as little as a few minutes.
  • If you start to shiver or feel weak, get out of the water. Hypothermia and cold shock are real risks.
  • Always cold plunge with a buddy. It’s an important safety measure but also can be really helpful to pysch each other up!
  • Unlike at the spa, there is no sauna to warm up in when you cold plunge outdoors. Bring a towel and dry, warm clothing to change into. Pack a thermos with hot drinks.
  • Protect your feet from rocks! Bring water shoes.


Where to Cold Plunge Outdoors in Vancouver

Kitsilano Beach

This popular beach is a great place to cold plunge in fall, winter, and spring. It has a sandy entry that is easy on the feet and great views of the North Shore Mountains. Afterwards, walk a few blocks to Kits Beach Coffee or Viva Cafe & Bakery to warm up with coffee and pastries.

A woman swims in the ocean at Kits Beach in Vancouver

Taking an icy swim at Kitsilano Beach. Photo: Gabriel Dalton/Unsplash


30 Foot Pool at Lynn Canyon

Combine your cold plunge with a short hike in Lynn Canyon in North Vancouver. After crossing the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, follow the Baden Powell Trail north for a few minutes to 30 Foot Pool. The emerald green water is icy cold year-round and the fern- and cedar-lined canyon is gorgeous.

30 Foot Pool in Lynn Canyon

The chilly waters of 30 Foot Pool. Photo: Jeff Hitchcock/Flickr. Used under CC BY 2.0


Ambleside Beach

Enjoy views of the Lions Gate Bridge and Stanley Park as you plunge into the chilly ocean at West Vancouver’s Ambleside Park. To warm up, walk over to the cafes along Marine Drive.

Ambleside Beach in West Vancouver

Photo: Trish Reader/Unsplash


Buntzen Lake

As the seasons change and the summer crowds disperse, the waters of Coquitlam’s Buntzen Lake cool down, making it perfect for cold plunging. The forested mountains rising out of the lake add to the tranquil setting.

A woman stands on the shore of Buntzen Lake near Vancouver

Photo: Ben Waardenburg/Unsplash


Wreck Beach

Vancouver’s clothing-optional beach is a great place to go for an icy dip since it has soft sand and views of the Georgia Strait. The only way to access the beach is via a steep trail that includes nearly 500 stairs, making it easy to warm up afterwards with a mandatory stair workout.

Wreck beach - Vancouver's nude beach

Photo: Guilhem Vellut/Flickr. Used under CC BY 2.0


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