Whytecliff Park (15.63 hectares in size) is located in a beautiful corner of Howe Sound with a rugged coastline and spectacular views of colourful mountains and passing boats. The waters off the Park became Canada’s first Salt Water Marine Protected Area (MPA) in 1993 and are now famous for its incredible underwater diving. Whytecliff Park is now home to more than 200 marine animal species, where you’re bound to catch a glimpse of Sea lions sunbathing on the beach during summer.
Five hectares (12.3 acres) of this park contains a playground, picnic spots, a swimming beach, tennis courts and an observation pavilion from which to admire the stunning views. The park is perfect for family barbeques with ample space and public washrooms. The park also offers great hiking.
The original name of the park was White Cliff City, which opened in 1909. In 1914, Colonel Albert Whyte pressed for the spelling change from White Cliff City to Whytecliff. The Whytecliff area is now distinct from Horseshoe Bay. The park, originally Rockcliffe Park, was developed by W.W. Boultbee in 1926, and a private access road was cut from the Marine Drive highway at Batchelor Bay.
The fifty acre Boultbee estate was purchased by the Union Steamship Company in 1939 and the company operated a Bowen Island Ferry from Whytecliff during 1939-41 and 1946-1952.
The park is divided into two sections, with the upper section having the majority of hiking trails and being much quieter than the beach area. There are some short trails from the beach and along the shoreline edge near the main parking lot but if you want to explore the hiking trails, you will have to start from the top of the overflow parking lot.
At the top of the overflow parking, a small trail climbs steeply into the forest. A short climb up the hill and there is an unmarked set of rock stairs on the right which are easy to miss. The viewpoint at the top of these stairs used to overlook Batchelor Bay but the trees have grown over the years to block this view.
Back on the main trail and another short walk uphill, the trail forks at a fire hydrant into what is the first of a few loops. You will want to plan your route so that you take one part of the loop first and then return via the other part of the loop. Go left at the junction and up a short hill to where a bench sits overlooking Howe Sound and the passing ferry and sailboats below.
Continue along the trail as it winds around the rock. Stay to the left and walk out onto a rocky clearing as it gradually descends before meeting up with another trail. Go left and continue your hike, staying left at the next two junctions and catching glimpses of the occasional view of Howe Sound.
Eventually the trail meets a final junction where a short trail on the right takes you out of the park and into a nearby neighbourhood. Go right at this junction and begin the loop back to the overflow parking lot. This section of trail weaves through a forested area that is quiet compared to the popular beach area of the park that most people are familiar with. Not far along the trail, go left at the junction and continue walking through the forest.
The trail briefly backtracks as you ascend quickly up a hill before meeting up with a section of trail you were on earlier. Go left and walk back along the path, staying to the left and, this time, passing through the middle of a big rock. After walking between the rock walls, you reach the junction with the fire hydrant and it’s only a short walk back down the hill to the parking lot.
WHYTECLIFF PARK BEACH AND ISLAND
To further explore the park, walk to the main parking lot area and not far from the entrance, follow a paved walkway at the side down towards the beach. During low tide, you can walk along the rocks to Whytecliff Island and climb to its peak but be sure to return before the tide rises and traps you from reaching the shore.
At the west side of the beach, there is a trail that climbs onto the large rock marked only by rock steps. Follow these steps as it ascends over the rock and then into a roughly marked path that weaves it’s way high above the shoreline. Along the route, you will find several benches to sit and enjoy the view and even a picnic table. The end of the trail exits back into the parking lot at the opposite end of the park near the observation point.
ACTIVITIES IN WHYTECLIFF PARK
Outdoor Sports | Whytecliff Park is a great spot to get together with friends and family for some outdoor fun! There’s two tennis courts and a large grass field that is just perfect for tossing around a frisbee or an impromptu game of badminton. There’s also a great playground for the kids to enjoy!
Hiking & Walking | The park has plenty of short hikes to choose from. You will find most of the trails by the Northwest corner of the gravel overflow parking lot. Also be sure to venture across the rocks at low tide and find a quiet spot to relax on the bluffs.
Swimming | Swimming at Whytecliff Park is always popular in the summer months. The beach is covered in small stones with small patches of sand. It’s in full sunglight for most of the day so ensure you’re wearing lots of sunscreen.
Scuba Diving | Whytecliff Park is known as the premier dive spot for divers of all capabilities. There are various dive classes that explore the inner cove and more advanced dives that explore the Queen Charlotte Channel. Don’t miss out on beautiful sea life and contact your local Dive Shop for more information.
DIRECTIONS TO WHYTECLIFF PARK
Whytecliff Park is located near Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver. It is a little off the beaten track but is accessible by car or public transit with a little bit of walking involved.
GETTING TO WHYTECLIFF BY CAR
If you are leaving from Downtown Vancouver, cross the Lions Gate Bridge and head towards West Vancouver via Marine Drive. Turn right at Taylor Way and exit onto Highway #1 Westbound.
Follow the highway and take exit #2 for Eagleridge Drive. Follow the road and make a left onto Marine Drive after the overpass. Continue straight on Marine Drive after the roundabout and after a short distance through a residential area you will arrive at Whytecliff Park. View a google map of driving directions here.
GETTING TO WHYTECLIFF PARK BY PUBLIC TRANSIT
If you need to take public transit be prepared to walk an extra 2km from the nearest bus stop in Horseshoe Bay.
Catch bus #257 Horseshoe Bay Express from Downtown near Granville and Georgia or at Park Royal if you are in North Vancouver. Just before Horseshoe Bay after you exit the highway there is a large roundabout. Exit the bus at this roundabout on Marine Drive and Nelson Avenue.
Once you exit the bus follow Marine Drive through a residential area until you reach Whytecliff Park. Be sure to ask for directions if you have not traveled there before.
Dogs at Whytecliff Park | Dogs are permitted in most areas of Whytecliff Park as long as they are on a leash and their owners pickup and depose of any dog droppings. There are a few areas have clearly marked signs where dogs are not allowed.
Toilets at Whytecliff Park | Public toilets are located in a couple of places in the lower section of Whytecliff Park. The first set it at the far end of the main parking lot and the second is at the bottom of a paved pathway next to the beach. There are no toilets located along the upper trails of the park.
7120 Marine Dr, West Vancouver, BC V7W 2T3, Canada
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