Matt & Megan
Nude Beach Map. Visited 2023
Wreck Beach is one of the best nude beaches in the world. We might be slightly biased because this is our ‘home’ nude beach but it offers a lot of features that are rare to find elsewhere. For a beach so close to a large city it feels like another world. It is isolated from any city views or outlooks to civilisation (barring the passing boats or seaplanes). The beach is also rare for Vancouver because it is almost completely sandy and access to the water doesn’t involve climbing over rocks or walking through seaweed. Large permanent logs on the beach act as wind shields and are great to lean up against with a towel.
First timers will feel welcome at Wreck Beach, it attracts a diverse range of people from all ages and backgrounds. Wreck is also very LGBTQ friendly and often acts as an unofficial afterparty for Pride weekend (late July). Most people are considerate on busy days and will keep noise to a minimum, however this can sometimes peak on busy public holidays like long weekends or public holidays – where the beach takes on more of a party beach vibe with more textiles and visiting boats. Best to avoid those days if you want an authentic Wreck experience. It is often incorrectly stated that Wreck is the only nude beach in Vancouver or BC, but this is incorrect. However it is definitely the most well known!
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After conquering the 473 stairs to reach the beach you’re met with an open expanse of a sandy beach with scattered logs. Most of the Wreck OG nude crowd congregate to the left of the stairs (when looking at the ocean) and in front of Stormin’ Normin (more below on this amazing vendor!). If you want to meet some interesting locals and become knowledgeable in all things Wreck Beach – this is the place to head. This area is also where most alcohol vendors are concentrated and it should be easy to flag someone down for a beer or vodka or whatever you’d like. The drinks are $5 and you will hear the vendors yelling out “cold beer” as they walk past with coolers.
Boozy Freezies are a Wreck Beach staple and are basically a frozen cocktail, the original vendor (yes there are copycats) is Tim and he can be found by looking for logs surrounded by tie-died pink and yellow flags. Most vendors will only accept cash but Boozy Freezies can be bought by credit card. Aaron is also another name you might come across – he is known as the ‘unofficial Mayor of Wreck’ and is at the beach almost everyday. If you see him he will probably introduce himself and is extremely helpful.
Permanent vendors are on the beach from around May long weekend till August long weekend (possibly earlier or later depending on the weather). The most famous is Stormin’ Norman who has been here for decades and runs Stormin Norman’s Spirit Burgers – a grill staffed by surly French Canadians selling delicious hotdogs, smokies, and some great veggie options too! Highly recommended! If that sounds a bit heavy, then the Peruvian food stand or the sushi vendor might suit you more. There is also a great vendor selling authentic beach blankets and sometimes people providing massages (buyer beware – sometimes they are great, other times you would swear the person has no idea what they are doing.. probably because they don’t!).
Away from the vendors to the far left at the end of the beach is the LGBTQ+ section of the beach. To the right of the stairs you pass the bathrooms and approach the point. This area can be more laidback for couples who want privacy, but it isn’t great for swimming because of the large rocks that block access in the ocean. The further you walk away from the trail entrance the rockier it gets, until you round the point and approach Tower Beach where the beach is rock pebbles. This is a great beach to escape the crowds and it has a direct view of the city skyline and lights, unlike Wreck Beach. There are occasional runners or hikers in this section that access trail 3 after walking along the beach from Spanish Banks.
Wreck Beach is full of character and has lots of quirks that might seem bizarre to a newbie. You will see discard their empty cans on the sand, seemingly littering this beautiful place. However they are just throwing the can to be seen by people collecting them for refund. People will also howl at the sun just before it sets, often above the background noise of drum circles that spontaneously form when it gets darker. You might also hear someone yell out “six up” which is code for the police are patrolling the beach.. AKA hide your booze before they make you pour it out. Along with alcohol, weed and mushrooms are also available to purchase at the beach.
The community nature of Wreck Beach means it is very friendly but also secure. You will have no issues asking someone to watch your valuables when you go for a swim, and in most cases people will do this for you without asking. Anyone spotted with a camera or overtly using a cellphone will normally be called out by Wreck Beach locals and asked to put it away. The older hippie regulars are a scraggy bunch but very protective of the beach and make it an extremely safe place for singles to be comfortable. Check out the official Wreck Beach Preservation Society page to understand their point of view better.
Take the bus or ride a bike to Wreck Beach as we do. Get there early, relax in the sun between the logs, have a few drinks and enjoy the serenity before it gets busier on a weekend evening. It is an easy beach to have your first nude experience (we did) and an even easier beach to keep returning to. No one has ever been weird, overt or judging towards us here.
The feeling of community is what keeps us returning every summer. Gazing out into the ocean with no buildings in sight, it really does feel like you’re on a ‘Wrecked Beach’ and stranded with this eclectic mix of survivors. You could be anywhere in the world.. until you walk up the hill when you realise it is getting too late. Save some energy for the struggle back up the stairs because your legs will feel like jelly at the top!
Questions? Comments? Add your thoughts or photos below!
Parking on a hot summer's day can be futile and stressful. All the free street parking disappears early in the morning and parking garages can get full but you will almost always find a spot. The closest options for parking is the UBC West Parkade or the Precise ParkLink - both cost around $10 a day on weekends or $20 a day on weekdays and are a 400m walk to the start of the Wreck Beach stairs. You'll have more luck parking easily on a weekday or a weekend morning.
About 15 bus lines link the UBC Campus to the majority of Metro Vancouver and it is about a 20min ride from downtown Vancouver. The fastest bus is the #99 express which runs along Broadway to University Boulevard and Westbrook Mall. The walk to the Wreck Beach stairs is about 10mins from the bus stop at UBC and there are plenty of shops to stock up on food and drink if you need.
Uber and taxis will set you back upwards of $35+ from downtown Vancouver and aren't recommended.
Trail 6 in the main trail to access Wreck Beach and it involves descending 473 stairs. Unfortunately there is no way to avoid this and in a weird way it is part of the appeal of the beach, as it is hidden from public view and can only be reached deliberately.
There are plenty of options for all budgets in nearby Vancouver but if you're after something right near Wreck Beach:
Gage Suites at UBC - ⭐⭐⭐
The trailhead is a short 5min walk away from the hotel. Great for long stays as most apartments come with kitchen facilities and cooking utensils.
Carey Centre at UBC - ⭐⭐⭐
Comfortable option close to the trailhead but close to restaurants and bars at UBC. The hotel also provides breakfast in the morning.