Spanish Banks Beach is a great expanse of sand and surf located along Northwest Marine Dr that is comprised of three distinct sections: Spanish Bank East, Spanish Bank Extension and Spanish Bank West. It is one of Vancouver’s most popular beaches, and at low tide the water can be up to 1km off shore making it a go-to spot for beach volleyball players, sunbathers, swimmers, skim boarders and those who like to relax and enjoy the spectacular views. The beach is backed by grassy fields, making it an ideal spot for walks, family gatherings, picnics, and games of soccer or frisbee.
The first European explorers in the Strait of Georgia were Spaniards Juan Carrasco and José María Narváez who initially sighted Point Grey in 1791, the Spanish Banks were named in commemoration of the meeting of George Vancouver and Spanish explorers Galiano and Valdés in June 1792. The banks were not found on Vancouver’s maps, but were charted on Galiano’s which lead to the Hudson’s Bay Company to call the area Spanish Banks. The name was officially bestowed upon them by Captain Richards of the HMS Plumper during his survey of Burrard Inlet in 1859. Spanish Banks has since been leased to the Vancouver Parks Board since 1929.
Extending between Locarno Beach in the east, and UBC in the west, Spanish Banks is an iconic section of the BMO Vancouver Marathon course. Running from UBC down NW Marine Drive, runners descend the tree-lined road which opens up to ocean on the left, while remaining forest lined on the right. It’s the perfect combination of Vancouver’s spectacular scenery.