Even though I grew up in North Vancouver, the first time I ever heard of Wreck Beach and its clothing-optional policy was when I began attending UBC. I still remember my first-year pilgrimage down there. The large stretch of naturist beach on the shores of the university felt, at the time, like the ultimate metaphor for the extreme freedom and liberalism one so often feels in young adulthood and early university life.
Wreck is one of the most beautiful beaches Vancouver has to offer. It is well worth trekking up and down the flights of stairs to get there and back so long as you are comfortable with some people’s choice to be nude or are choosing to be nude yourself. I respect the naturist philosophy that many people choose to follow. My life choice, thus far, has been to remain as clothed and covered as my bathing suit or bikini dictates while enjoying any beach (apparently this means I am a “textile” in some circles).
As more of an introvert by nature, one of my favourite things about Wreck Beach is how easily I can find seclusion there. The other day, J and I took Frankie to Wreck in the early evening and it felt magical. We took Trail 6 down to a rocky part of the beach and found a quiet spot, where, apart from a few passing sunbathers and fishermen, we were alone. We sat, ate dinner, and waded in the water while enjoying the peacefulness of the ocean and trees.
Wreck Beach is, of course, more famously known for its incredibly social atmosphere and this area of the beach can be found by following Trail 3 to one of the sandier sections. This part of the beach has far more people as well as concessions, music, body-painting, and other goings-on. On my more extroverted days this is where I would choose to be. If you are looking for a social, clothing-not-so-optional Beach, Kitsilano is the better fit.
Some useful links for planning a trip to Wreck:
If you drive, you may get lucky and snag a free parking spot along North West Marine Drive. Otherwise, there is ample pay parking.
And a few “thinkers” and reads on the subject: