A crisp coastal breeze whips off the Pacific ocean; crisp, cool, Canadian and welcomes me to Kitsilano beach. The ocean waves hello as I search for a place to settle in, scouting the sand and the beautiful bodies for the best place to soak up the sunshine.
Finding a horizontal driftwood tree not far from the beach volleyball courts, I settle on my people watching perch under the scorching sun.
Summer is my favourite season in Vancouver; the city comes alive with towering, leafy trees, colourful flowers and thousands of people basking in the heat, riding their bicycles along the seawall and running around Stanley Park.
All of the pretty young things flock to Kits beach on the long days of summer, they decorate the grass with a kaleidoscope of colours – bright blankets, bodies bent in yoga poses and sun soaked skin. The soft grass set aside for sunning is a playground for toned bodies tossing footballs, frisbees flying from hand to hand and friends finding each other amongst the bathing suits and bicycles. They wave hello and shout friendly greetings, grateful twenty-somethings that have escaped the office or classroom early in search of sunshine for the afternoon.
Part of Kits Beach is green grass but the other part is sandy beach, a carpet of small stones and beige sand that stretches along the shore and welcomes the waves from English Bay. Separating the sand from the park, a promenade of hot pavement weaves towards the city centre, crowded with runners and rollerbladers, playful puppies and young summer lovers taking lazy strolls beside the sea.
From high up in the maple trees the birds sing songs to the sky and the seagulls screech, while down below the slow rhythmic beat of the bongos played by a handsome drummer serenades those nearby to sleep. In the distance, the North Shore Mountains cut across the skyline and create the coast, small white seaplanes dart before the backdrop whisking people away from the city for a weekend on the Sunshine Coast or for a trip to Vancouver Island.
And all along, English Bay lies sparkling before me, stretching out towards the Pacific Ocean and harbouring large container ships and small sailboats in the safety of its shores.
Kits Beach is one of the best places in the city to watch the sun set and as the afternoon blends into the evening, I gather my things to leave the sand and skip to the swing set, my favourite place to watch the city fall asleep and stretch my glistening golden legs into the sky.
The day is done, my heart is happy and as the sun sneaks into the ocean it paints the sky with countless colours, with shades of orange, gold, peach, pink and purple that decorate every day differently before disappearing into the dark summer night.
need to know Kits Beach
the Weather – the seasons are pretty Canadian here on the West Coast but with a much milder winter than the rest of the country. Kits beach is interesting year round, but expect a clear sky and temperatures between 25-35 in the summer months from July-September.
the Food – The Boathouse is one of my favourite restaurants to give money to in Vancouver – it has an impressive selection of seafood (try the Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna) Surf & Turf and an extensive wine menu which are all somehow trumped by the panorama view of Kits Beach. Summer or Winter, Fall or Spring, the lounge at the Boathouse is one of the best places in the city to have your last dinner on the West Coast or to show a visitor why you live here. The prices are great value for the dishes they offer, and I’ve never had a bad meal or chosen a disappointing plate there.
But if you aren’t looking to sit down, make like the locals and grab take out for the beach. Try Kits Sushi for fair prices and fresh fish or try Thai Basil for authentic Thai food.
For breakfast, try Zen, a small breakfast restaurant one block up Yew Street from Cornwall – it has the best eggs benny in the neighbourhood and is a popular local favourite. Also try Chewies for chicken and waffles or crab cake bennies and even if you make it back round to Local in the morning, they have a hangover helping bacon and egg sandwich.
the Spots – Local is the busiest bar in Kits by far, it has a young, kits crowd and is right on Cornwall street. The hostesses are always swamped but the food is consistent, (4$ tacos!) there’s a daily beer on special, and its the best place to watch a game or people watch on the patio. The King’s Head,just across the street from Local, makes for a great back up plan when Local is impossible to get into. Their patio is small, their interior a bit dark and dreary, but they have good food deals, great cocktails (the Queen, 6.50$) cheap shots and live music on weekends.
the Messy Details – there are so many ways to take advantage of the Pacific Ocean at Kits Beach, you can rent a stand-up paddle board, jump in a kayak, go for a swim in the salt water or take the aquabus to a different neighbourhood.
There are also heaps of ways to get your heart rate going here, volleyball courts are set up every day with drop in volleyball Tuesdays at 6:30 for 5$, www.rec-centre.com/tuesday-kits-beach-volleyball theres a sweet basketball court with panorama mountain views, year-round tennis courts, swings and a playground for children both big and small, and lots of green space to practice yoga, cheerleading or work out.
Taking the aquabus from Kits Beach across False Creek and into different parts of the city is an easy, cheap way to get out on the water. As a local here, I usually forget about it, but it only costs about 5$ and is better than the bus if you’re new to the city. www.theaquabus.com