Surfing and Kitesurfing Facts
- Surfing and kitesurfing spots within 50 km
8 (kitesurfing), more than 100 on Vancouver Island (surfing), 6 (windsurfing)
- Best time to travel - kitesurfing
May to September
- Best time to travel - surfing
Year-round on Vancouver Island
- Best time to travel - windsurfing
May to September
- Recommended apparel
Wetsuit (May to September) in winter as well as boots, gloves and a hood
- Flight connection
Located less than a six-hour drive from Vancouver International Airport, the idyllic town of Tofino on Vancouver Island is one of the world’s prime cold-water surf spots. This very special place features wild and icy waves paired with a stunningly pristine natural setting. Uncrowded beaches offer ideal conditions for surfers of all skill levels. With water temperatures generally below sixteen degrees Celsius, including in summer, Tofino is a year-round surf destination with consistent swells.
Top Surf and Kite Spots around Vancouver
Squamish – a Protected Kitesurfing Paradise
Squamish has evolved into a kiteboarding mecca in recent years. Located roughly an hour’s drive from Vancouver, this small town sits at the top of a fjord and offers breathtaking vistas of the snow-covered mountains around Whistler. The consistently strong thermal winds from April through October attract kiteboarding beginners and pros from every corner of the world to Squamish. Kiteboarding happens at the man-made launching area known as the “Spit“, situated in the heart of the Squamish River estuary. Because of this unique location, the kitesurfing season is limited to May through September, so as to protect the wild birds. During that time, the Spit is looked after by the non-profit organisation Squamish Windsports Society (SWS). One-time entrance to the Spit costs approximately fifteen Swiss francs. Having said that, changing rooms, picnic spots, a kitesurfing school and a jet-ski rescue service are available on site and provided by the Sea to Sky Kiteboarding team.
Skyline Kitesurfing at Spanish Banks
Those who prefer to surf or kiteboard closer to the city of Vancouver can do so at Spanish Banks Beach. With shallow waters and a special launch zone for kiteboarding, it is an ideal spot for beginners and pros to practice their jumps. However, note should be taken that during the summer season, kiteboarding is only allowed at Spanish Banks Extension beach (the westernmost shores of Spanish Banks). When things get busy, the local kiteboarding community will opt to surf at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal. The ferry harbour is roughly an hour’s drive south of Vancouver and offers ideal wind conditions and shallow waters.
Windsurfing in Vancouver‘s Bays
Windsurfers are where the water meets the wind. Featuring calm waters and protected bays, the Vancouver area is especially popular among beginners to the sport. A host of surf schools offer beginner courses for individuals, small groups as well as for families, such as Windsure Adventure Watersports near the Jericho Sailing Center at Jericho Beach. More experienced windsurfers will be drawn to Spanish Banks, where strong north-westerly winds can whip up waves that exceed six feet in height. Note of caution: For safety reasons, windsurfers must keep a distance of at least 300 metres (1000 ft.) from all Vancouver beaches.
Surfing but Different: Skimboarding
During low tide, the large, flat sandbank known as Spanish Banks with its shallow waters is the perfect place to try out a new water sports activity: skimboarding. Skimboarding (or skimming) involves gliding across flat water surfaces or small waves on a small oval-shaped board. Versed skimboarders perform tricks similar to skateboarding. And water sports enthusiasts still keen on more activities can try their hand at stand up paddle boarding (SUP), sailing or paddling along the beach in a kayak whilst taking in the scenic view of downtown Vancouver and the North Shore Mountains.