Summertime on Vancouver Island is an incredible time to visit. Town centres are bustling, restaurant patios are lively, and the parks and beaches everywhere are full of both locals and visitors looking for a way to relax and enjoy the sun. While we may have some of the most moderate temperatures here on Vancouver Island, the summer months can get hot. When the temperatures rise, it’s nice to put strenuous activities on hold and spend the day enjoying one of Vancouver Island’s beautiful, natural swimming spots! With fabulous ocean, river and lake swimming all over the island, you’ll never need to go far to find somewhere beautiful to spend the day swimming and relaxing.
As soon as you arrive in Sooke, you’re going to want to start planning a day at Sooke Potholes, an extensive network of deep, smooth, pools filled with clear turquoise water located right near the Sooke River. Formed during the last ice age, these formations are truly stunning and one of the best spots to find cool, clear water to take a dip in.
If you’re looking for a nearby swimming area in Metchosin, your best bet is Matheson Lake just off Rocky Point Rd! Work up a sweat before your dip with a walk around the lake on the picturesque trail, set up for a sunny afternoon on the sandy beach area or take a quick dip before starting your journey on the Galloping Goose.
If you’re looking for ocean swimming, you won’t be hard pressed to find stunning beaches and excellent clear waters to swim in all over the Victoria coast. Gonzalez Bay Beach, is an enclosed cove with white sand that is always popular for summertime swimming.
This beautiful neighbourhood park is another sandy beach that offers clear ocean swimming and lots of space to set up for an afternoon in the sun.
If the cold waters of the Pacific aren’t the swimming experience you are looking for, we have lovely swimming lakes that you won’t want to miss! Thetis Lake is one of the best swimming spots near Victoria. There are two sandy beaches to choose from, one at the southernmost end and one on the west side of the lake. Additionally, if you are willing to hike a little bit, you can find lots of rocky outcrops perched right on the water’s edge that provide a little privacy and a perfect place to dive into the cool water. This popular lake gets busy in the summer so it’s a good idea to arrive early on the weekends or midweek to escape the weekend crowds.
One of the most time-honoured summer traditions of the locals of the Cowichan Valley is tubing down the Cowichan River. It’s become such a popular summer activity; you can now buy tubing packages from The Tube Shack that includes inner tube rentals and a shuttle service to get you back to your vehicle. Gently float along on this 2.5-hour journey where you can enjoy the stunning natural beauty of the riverbank, bob your way under old bridges and watch as the farmland of the Cowichan Valley passes by. It’s a wonderfully unique way to spend a summer afternoon like a local!
This gorgeous park is a 56-acre conservation site and a mature coastal Douglas fir ecosystem with a system of beautiful, wooded trails that are perfect for cycling and walking. Here, you can take a walk through the network of trails and explore the forest then cool off with a dip in the river or bring a blanket and a picnic and set up on one of the many spots all along the riverbank to rest, swim and enjoy the sun! The Nanaimo River is an idyllic swimming spot with deep swimming holes of crystal-clear water, perfect for cooling down when the temperatures rise.
If you’re looking for a quiet place to cool off during a heatwave, you’ll want to make your way to Spider Lake. Don’t let the name deter you! This glorious, peaceful lake is one of the best swimming spots in the area. There is a small sandy beach and picnic area perfect for making it a comfortable day at the lake – plus, the warm water makes swimming that much more enjoyable! This is also an excellent lake for paddleboarding or kayaking as well as there are so many little coves to explore in the many winding inlets – which is where Spider Lake got its name!
While you’re staying in the Comox Valley, you definitely need to take a day and head to the sandy shores of Saratoga Beach. This stunning beach is widely touted as one of the best beaches on Vancouver Island due to the long stretches of soft white sand that heats up the cold ocean water as the tide moves in and out. Set up in the sand for the day and paddle through the warm shallows or wade out and take a dip in the ocean. This is a truly stunning beach that you won’t want to miss out on!
No matter where you’re staying on Vancouver Island, you’ll find lots of incredibly beautiful, unique, natural swimming spots to help you beat the summer heat!