25th Annual Wreck Beach Day

Wreck Beach, view back towards cliff
Wreck Beach, view sw, from breakwater

Saturday 15 July is proving to be a day too full of events. Besides the Vancouver Folk Music Festival and Canada Parks Day (both previously mentioned on this site; links: Folk, Parks), this Saturday is also Wreck Beach‘s 25th Annual Wreck Beach Day.

Here’s a tip about the real magic of Wreck Beach. It isn’t the sand, the sea, the sun, the wind, nor even the public nudity.

Wreck Beach, sea with logs
View looking approximately west

Wreck Beach, sea and mountains in background
View looking approximately northwest

It’s the feeling of getting away from the city.

Wreck Beach, the main part of it, is at the bottom of a cliff. The trail down to the beach has over four hundred steps in it. (Which does mean that going back up that same trail is also a journey of over four hundred steps. It’s Grouse Grind Lite.) The part of the sea beyond the beach doesn’t have any major shipping lanes in it.

So you look out towards the ocean and see just water and mountains and sky; you look in the opposite direction and see just cliff face and trees and sky. The closest road is Southwest Marine Drive, running along the top of the cliff, and it’s far from being a busy road–from the beach, you can’t hear any traffic sounds. There aren’t any beachfront shops or restaurants or permanent structures. You escape the sights and sounds of the city while in a large, open-air, public place without ever actually leaving the city, and that isn’t too easy to do, in Vancouver or in any other large city.

Wreck Beach Day features sandcastle building, body painting, kite flying, and an art show, but whether you go to the beach for the festival or on another day, my suggestion is to take a minute while you’re there to just look around and to open your ears and listen, and to focus on what is absent from your usual experience, what you don’t see or hear. That’s the real attraction. (The clothing-optional thing? That just adds to the attraction of the beach’s seclusion from the city, rather than being the main feature in itself.)

p.s. The Wreck Beach Preservation Society has been battling with UBC’s Campus & Community Planning department for several years over many issues, most notably the plan to build several residential towers along Marine Drive, the tops of which would be visible from part of the beach. But this is a topic for another post.

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