Wreck Beach

Wreck beach on a winter's day.
Wreck beach on a winter’s day.

Wreck Beach is an isolated piece of paradise backed by tall-treed eroding sand cliffs and protected from civilization by kilometers of rough, rocky shoreline to either side and a steep climb above.

For the athletically-inclined, the almost 500 steps provide a good step workout to complement the cycling you’ve already done to get here. For the hedonist, this is paradise.

Lying in the warm sun on a summer’s day, enjoying the revitalizing fresh sea air, the crowds of happy, relaxing people, the dancing, the music, and the sparkling blue ocean makes whatever effort you went to to get here, melt away.

Wreck Beach (0.5 km/0.3 mi – and almost 500 steps):

A variety of treats such as Lucy's homemade Peruvian empanadas are available at Wreck Beach during the warmer weather.
A variety of treats such as Lucy’s homemade Peruvian empanadas are available at Wreck Beach during the warmer weather.

Food and drink are a moment away – beach vendors line the back part of the beach and wandering vendors sell a variety of food and drinks.

The Wreck Beach Preservation Society maintains a website of interest to visitors and regulars alike. Their Home page includes a piece on appropriate beach etiquette. Separately, there’s a Facebook page.

Getting There

The best way to motivate yourself to go up University Hill is to have a good reason.

While fitness is the goal, Wreck is the immediate reward. At almost 500 hundred steps to go down and just as many to go up, getting to and from Wreck Beach is a workout in itself.

Tower Beach between Wreck and Spanish Banks on a winter's day.
Tower Beach between Wreck and Spanish Banks on a winter’s day.

But Wreck is more than just a bit of exercise. In the winter it’s an isolated wind-swept beach and a nice place to play with the dog or enjoy nature, and in the summer it’s packed with thousands of partying clothed and naked people co-existing under rules of respectful behaviour.

Because of its isolation and that steep climb Wreck has been a local destination for naturists for almost a hundred years, but encroaching civilization in the forms of UBC-erected towers and ubiquitous cameras threaten the privacy and comfort of naturists who at times can be very militant about protecting their sole domain.

People taking photos can expect trouble. People surreptitiously taking photos can expect to be treated badly. Be considerate about where you point your phone, both front and back. What laws may exist to protect you are 500 steep steps away. Even the eagles are chased away by crows! Obviously the beach is sensitive to “perverts” and discourages sexual behaviour. This is a family beach, and consequently, if you’re ever going to try naturism, this is your chance!

Slip out of those riding shorts and join in. Nude people look out for nude people with the cooperation and support of both the Metro Vancouver Regional District (MVRD ex. GVRD) and RCMP who patrol the beach to ensure nothing improper goes on. Cooperation and support stops at the beer and pot vendors, but that’s perfectly understandable.

If you find you’re inclined to sample the wares, remember you still have to ride home. The beach closes at sundown (actually the police may clear it out before that), and the hike up is very dark.

Riding On: Adjoining Seaside Routes

There’s nowhere to ride! Best to climb that hill to get your bike and cut through UBC, taking 4th, 10th or 16th Avenues east, or go down to Spanish Banks (left on N.W. Marine Drive and down the hill), or go around Point Grey to the south on what will become S. W. Marine Drive, without views of the water.