One of the best things you can do on your visit to Vancouver, is to leave Vancouver. There are many great destinations located just outside of the city limits that are worth exploring. Especially if you’re looking for a place to relax, there are several seaside beach towns that you should visit. The isolated communities of South Surrey and White Rock are located only 50km south of Vancouver towards the US Border, so it is easy to accomplish on a day trip. You will not be disappointed.
The area known as Metro Vancouver includes everything from Downtown Vancouver out towards Maple Ridge and Langley in the Fraser Valley. If you have some time to spend visiting, definitely make the effort to spend a day or two out this way. There are many hidden gems located outside the city limits of Vancouver worthy of your attention. This summer we have tried to explore some of these different areas, including several hikes in and around Squamish, floating down the Alouette River in Maple Ridge and a few trips to White Rock to visit friends and family.
White Rock and South Surrey is known for having the lowest annual rainfall in greater Vancouver; when it rains as much as it does in the lower mainland, this makes a big difference. The area has been a seaside tourist destinations since before colonial times, as the original First Nations used this area extensively before European settlers arrived to displace the original inhabitants.
In the early 1900s, there were not many people that lived south of the Fraser River year round. When the railroad between Washing State and New Westminster opened up at the turn of the century, it opened up trade in the area, allowing tourists from Vancouver to visit these beachside locations. The opening of the Peace Arc border crossing (1908) and Massey Tunnel (1959) signaled that cars have taken over, which allowed people to live out this way and work in the city. The population since then has spiked and it’s popularity couldn’t be higher.
There are three different areas out this way that are worth exploring; White Rock, South Surrey and Crescent Beach. White Rock is a distinct and separate community from the rest of South Surrey, but you would have a hard time recognizing the boundaries between the two. It is the most popular spot to visit in the area, and has the most beautiful (and longest) stretch of waterfront.
There are many great bars and restaurants to visit before, during or after your time at the beach. “Canada’s longest Pier” was just reopened along White Rock’s seaside promenade (after being destroyed by a windstorm last winter), so the time to visit is now. The railroad tracks still separate the town from the water, and there are daily reminders of it’s historical importance as the trains still run along here.
Our favourite destination out this way is Crescent Beach. This small community of about 1500 people is located on the shore of Boundary Bay, and is one of Vancouver’s best kept secrets. There is a beautiful stretch of beach here and especially when the tide goes out, its the most incredible places to go for a walk. The day we visited, we snapped some amazing pictures of eagles playing on the exposed sand bars. If you’re looking for somewhere to watch the sunset, this has to be one of the best in all of Vancouver.
Leaving the confines of Vancouver is the best way to explore Vancouver. For the adventurous traveler willing to make the trip, the seaside destinations of White Rock and Crescent beach are waiting to be explored. These can’t miss destinations needed to be added to your itinerary.