Exploring the Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver British Columbia

The boathouse and marina can be seen at the start of the Stanley Park Seawall.
The boathouse and marina can be seen at the start of the Stanley Park Seawall. | Source

Stanley Park and the Seawall

Stanley Park is one of Vancouver's jewels. It's a 400-hectare park located on a peninsula near the downtown area of Vancouver. The park contains dense coastal rainforest as well as open areas. The open sections contain beautiful plant displays and provide the opportunity for many enjoyable recreational activities.

A seawall travels around the perimeter of Stanley Park. On top of the seawall is an 8.8 km paved path that is open to walkers, runners, cyclists, inline skaters and wheelchairs. The path is a popular place for people who want to exercise and for those who want to stroll while enjoying the view or exploring nature.

I often walk along the seawall and always enjoy my visits. There is lots to see and photograph. With the exception of the first photo, all the photographs in this article were taken by me.

Three totem poles in Stanley Park
Three totem poles in Stanley Park | Source

The Joys of Stanley Park

A visit to Stanley Park is enjoyable at any time of year. Trails travel through the forest and are fun to explore. The park contains Lost Lagoon and Beaver Lake, which are good places to see wildlife. Attractions in the open areas of the park include a lovely rose garden, other cultivated plants, a miniature train ride, an outdoor theatre and a display of First Nations totem poles. The park also contains sculptures, restaurants, viewpoints and the Vancouver Aquarium.

The seawall in the park is a big attraction for people. The wall is made of stone and was built to prevent erosion of the foreshore. The path on the top of the wall has one lane for pedestrians and wheelchairs and another for bicycles and inline skaters.

On the east side of the park, a seawall traveller will see the busy activity in Burrard Inlet against an attractive mountain backdrop. They'll also find rocky beaches with interesting seashore life. On the west side they'll see the calmer scenery in the Strait of Georgia, which separates mainland British Columbia from Vancouver Island. In addition, they'll discover a series of sandy beaches.

History of the Seawall

Construction of the seawall began in 1917 and lasted for many years. James Cunningham is most strongly associated with the creation of the wall. He was a master stonemason who worked for the Park Board. Cunningham not only oversaw the wall's construction but did much of the work himself. He died in 1963. The seawall was officially finished in 1980.

A Canada goose on the beach beside the seawall
A Canada goose on the beach beside the seawall | Source

Stanley Park in Vancouver

The Seawall From East to North - The Boathouse to the Cannon

I walk in a counterclockwise direction in Stanley Park, from east to west. I'll describe my favourite highlights of the journey, but there are many other things to see. There are lots of benches along the route to enable people to rest on their walk.

One of the first photo-worthy sights on the journey is the marina and a building known as the boathouse, which is the home of the Vancouver Rowing Club. Very soon after these landmarks is an information centre which sells refreshments and has washrooms. This area is also the start of the horse-drawn carriage rides around the park.

As the traveller continues along the seawall they will see the site of the First Nations Totem poles. They can cross the road and view the poles now or wait until they see them again as they loop around the park. The poles are colourful and very photogenic. The First Nations centre next to the poles has a store that sells souvenirs and refreshments and also has washrooms.

The next highlight is the nine o'clock gun. This is a twelve-pound cannon which fires a black powder at 9 pm every evening. The cannon is controlled electronically. It's a popular landmark in the park.

The Nine O'Clock Gun Fires in Vancouver

Girl in a Wetsuit to Lions Gate Bridge

The "Girl in a Wetsuit" sculpture is the next noticeable landmark that is seen during a seawall walk. The girl is often known as the little mermaid, since she's sitting on a rock emerging from the water. The fins on her feet do make her look a bit like a mermaid. Her creation was inspired by the Little Mermaid sculpture in Copenhagen. The girl was created by Elek Imredy and placed on her rock in 1972.

After the sculpture, the seawall path passes by a children's water playground. On the other side of the path is a short tunnel which contains washrooms and leads to a concession stand and the cultivated area of the park. This area provides a way for people to get back to the start of the seawall if they've had enough walking.

The seawall travels under the Lions Gate Bridge, which travels over Burrard Inlet. This is a good place to see cormorants, which like to perch on the bridge supports. A telephoto lens is needed to get a good photo of the birds.

Seawall Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The information centreHorse-drawn carriages can be boarded by the information centre.An entrance to the First Nations centreThe nine o'clock gunA closer view of the nine o'clock gunA harbour tour on a replica paddle steamerThe seawall, with one lane for cyclists and another for pedestriansAnother view of the seawallTotem poles in Stanley ParkA view from the First Nations centreGirl in a wetsuit sculptureA replica of the S.S. Empress of Japan figurehead. The ship was active in Burrard Inlet  between 1891 and 1922 and transported local goods to Japan.An immature gullLions Gate Bridge is in the background.A closer view of Lions Gate BridgeThe children's water playground by the seawall
The information centre
The information centre | Source
Horse-drawn carriages can be boarded by the information centre.
Horse-drawn carriages can be boarded by the information centre.
An entrance to the First Nations centre
An entrance to the First Nations centre
The nine o'clock gun
The nine o'clock gun
A closer view of the nine o'clock gun
A closer view of the nine o'clock gun
A harbour tour on a replica paddle steamer
A harbour tour on a replica paddle steamer
The seawall, with one lane for cyclists and another for pedestrians
The seawall, with one lane for cyclists and another for pedestrians
Another view of the seawall
Another view of the seawall
Totem poles in Stanley Park
Totem poles in Stanley Park
A view from the First Nations centre
A view from the First Nations centre
Girl in a wetsuit sculpture
Girl in a wetsuit sculpture
A replica of the S.S. Empress of Japan figurehead. The ship was active in Burrard Inlet  between 1891 and 1922 and transported local goods to Japan.
A replica of the S.S. Empress of Japan figurehead. The ship was active in Burrard Inlet between 1891 and 1922 and transported local goods to Japan.
An immature gull
An immature gull
Lions Gate Bridge is in the background.
Lions Gate Bridge is in the background.
A closer view of Lions Gate Bridge
A closer view of Lions Gate Bridge
The children's water playground by the seawall
The children's water playground by the seawall

Stanley Park Seawall Video Part One

The Seawall from North to West - Siwash Rock to Third Beach

Soon after a traveller has passed under the Lions Gate Bridge they'll notice a difference in the scenery. The water becomes more open and the mountains disappear. Instead of a treed bank beside the trail that can be easily climbed to reach the road (Stanley Park Drive), there are steep, impassable cliffs.

One of the first landmarks to be seen on this stretch of the seawall is Siwash Rock. The rock is a sea stack (a large rock outcrop) that was formed thirty-two million years ago. It's located between the Lions Gate Bridge and Third Beach and is very close to the seawall. I always find it awe-inspiring to look at the rock and think about its age.

The scenery changes again as the traveller enters English Bay and Third Beach appears. This is a favourite spot for people to stop and relax. Third Beach is the first in a series of beaches.

A view of Siwash Rock while looking back on the travelling route
A view of Siwash Rock while looking back on the travelling route | Source

More Photos of the Stanley Park Seawall

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The seawall past Lions Gate BridgeLooking back along the seawallThird BeachAnother view of Third BeachThird Beach and its backdropThe seawall path continuesSculptures on the beach
The seawall past Lions Gate Bridge
The seawall past Lions Gate Bridge | Source
Looking back along the seawall
Looking back along the seawall
Third Beach
Third Beach
Another view of Third Beach
Another view of Third Beach
Third Beach and its backdrop
Third Beach and its backdrop
The seawall path continues
The seawall path continues
Sculptures on the beach
Sculptures on the beach

Vancouver Beaches in and near Stanley Park

There are three sandy beaches on the west side of Stanley Park - Third Beach, Second Beach and English Bay Beach (or First Beach). Technically, only Third Beach is in Stanley Park. The other two beaches are close to the park, however.

Third Beach is my favorite beach because it has Stanley Park as a backdrop. Steps lead up to the Ferguson Point Tearoom and Restaurant and washrooms are available.

Second Beach is very much a family area. In addition to the beach and ocean swimming, the area has a big outdoor swimming pool and a large grassy area with lots of play equipment for children. The area contains a concession stand as well as washrooms.

English Bay Beach is very popular. It's next to a grassy area and apartment blocks and is the site of an annual fireworks show. The water contains a diving raft and a slide. A cafe, a concession stand and washrooms are located close to the beach. A lifeguard is present at all three Stanley Park Seawall beaches during the summer.

Stanley Park Seawall Video Part Two

Beach Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Second BeachSecond Beach and the outdoor swimming poolEnglish Bay Beach or First BeachAnother view of English Bay BeachThe seaside pathThe Seaside Greenway is continuous with the Stanley Park SeawallBurrard Street ridge as viewed from Sunset Beach, which is near English Bay BeachA special event beside Sunset Beach
Second Beach
Second Beach | Source
Second Beach and the outdoor swimming pool
Second Beach and the outdoor swimming pool
English Bay Beach or First Beach
English Bay Beach or First Beach
Another view of English Bay Beach
Another view of English Bay Beach
The seaside path
The seaside path
The Seaside Greenway is continuous with the Stanley Park Seawall
The Seaside Greenway is continuous with the Stanley Park Seawall
Burrard Street ridge as viewed from Sunset Beach, which is near English Bay Beach
Burrard Street ridge as viewed from Sunset Beach, which is near English Bay Beach
A special event beside Sunset Beach
A special event beside Sunset Beach

Getting to the Stanley Park Seawall from Downtown Vancouver

One of my favorite walking routes to Stanley Park is along Robson Street, which ends at Lost Lagoon. Robson Street is a tourist attraction in its own right and is lined with many interesting shops. Lost Lagoon is an attractive body of fresh water in Stanley Park. It's popular with bird watchers and has a nature house on its perimeter. There are signposts by Lost Lagoon which indicate the direction to the seawall.

Another very pleasant route to the park is beside Burrard Inlet. If you turn right when leaving the Waterfront SkyTrain station, you'll have two choices for reaching Stanley Park. (SkyTrain is a light rapid transit system.) To get to the park, you can stay on the road, which gives glimpses of the inlet, or go down to the walking path beside the inlet.

The walking path is continuous with the Stanley Park Seawall which is in turn continuous with the Seaside Greenway. You can go for a short walk or a very long walk once you're on the path! The entire seaside route is 28 km long.

The journey from downtown Vancouver to Stanley Park is about a twenty minute walk at a fairly brisk pace. If you stay on the Burrard Inlet path the journey will be a bit longer. Buses travel to the park and there are pay parking lots in the park for cars.

The grass beside English Bay Beach and a tree growing on top of an apartment block
The grass beside English Bay Beach and a tree growing on top of an apartment block | Source

Exploring Vancouver

The Vancouver area has a good public transit system, which is helpful for people who can't or don't want to drive. SkyTrain travels through Vancouver and the surrounding communities. The area also has a large bus network. Greater Vancouver's transit system is run by TransLink. Their website has a trip planner and information about fares.

Vancouver has other interesting attractions besides Stanley Park. The park is my favourite place to visit in the city, though. One nice thing about the seawall is that it can be explored for either a short time or for a long time. In addition, people can travel slowly with lots of rests or they can move at a faster pace. The wall is a great place to exercise and to have fun as well. I always see something new when I visit the Stanley Park Seawall.

© 2013 Linda Crampton

More by this Author


Comments 27 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

I really need to get Bev up north. She wants to see Vancouver and Victoria, and we need to get it done in the near future. Thanks for providing some incentive.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you, jado0onkhan. I appreciate the comment.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Bill. I hope you and Bev make it to Vancouver soon. Thanks for the visit.


Gail Meyers profile image

Gail Meyers 3 years ago from United States

This is beautiful. It looks so peaceful and relaxing. It make you wish you were at the beach! lol Thanks for sharing the information and pictures. Voted up and beautiful.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much for the comment and the vote, Gail. The walk and the beaches can be very relaxing! The beaches are popular and are busy on sunny summer weekends, but since there are several beaches in a row people can generally find a nice spot to settle down.


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 3 years ago from Massachusetts

Thanks my friend for this informative and enjoyable read, the beautiful photos and videos were awesome . Sounds like a very nice and peaceful place to visit and enjoy .

Vote up and more !!!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi, Tom. Thanks for the comment, the visit and the votes. Yes, the seawall is a very nice place to visit. There are lots of things to see during a walk there!


bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi Linda. Thank you for bringing back some great memories. We would love to return to Vancouver and Stanley Park some day in the near future. You are very fortunate to have such great parks and paths to walk, bike, run, etc... I'm envious. Wonderful hub Linda. Voted up, shared, pinned.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you so much for the vote, the share and the pin, Bill. I appreciate all your support! I feel very fortunate to live where I do. It's a lovely area.


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 3 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you for the tour. beautiful


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thanks, Martin. I appreciate your comment.


CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 3 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

What a lovely place to walk and relax. Thanks for sharing all the great information and beautiful pictures of Stanley Park Alicia


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much for the visit and the comment, Cynthia. Yes, the seawall is a lovely place to walk. I always enjoy my visits there.


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

The last time I was in Vancouver, Alicia, I visited some shops on Robson Street but unfortunately did not have time to visit the Stanley Park Seawall. Now thanks to this fascinating description of the area and your beautiful photos, I will have to return. Promise.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

I hope you're able to return to Vancouver, drbj, just as I hope to visit Florida some day. I've wanted to visit the Everglades ever since I was a child! Thank you for the comment.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

Another great addition to my Armchair Travelling slot which always come in handy !!Thank you again Alicia and enjoy your day.

Eddy.


Elias Zanetti profile image

Elias Zanetti 3 years ago from Athens, Greece

Wonderful tour and a very beautiful hub, Alicia!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thanks, Eddy. I hope you have a great day as well!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much for the kind comment, Elias. I appreciate it!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa

What a lovely, comprehensive hub - a virtual tour of The Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver British Columbia. Stunning pictures an videos! Thank you so much for sharing, Alicia!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much for the lovely comment, Martie! I appreciate your visit.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

That is one huge park. It is only 5 km around Boomer Lake! Thanks for the great look at the park.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thanks for the visit and the comment, Deb. Yes, Stanley Park is large. That makes it great fun to explore!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States

This is an area on my travel bucket list. I love all you photos and the general information. I surely hope to visit there within the next couple of years. Voted up, awesome, beautiful and shared.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Thank you very much for the comment, the votes and the share, Pamela! I appreciate them all.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

I was so near this spot just 2 weeks ago! How lovely to be able to enjoy the area as you do. Thanks for giving us a vicarious trip there. Pinning to my Travel Plans board with high hopes for next time I'm across the continent!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada Author

Hi. RTalloni. It's interesting to hear that you were close to Stanley Park so recently! I hope you are able to visit the park one day. Thank you very much for the comment and the pin.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working