See why this Vancouver Island Beach made Canada’s top 10 Beach List! And read our tips on how to get the most out of your Rathtrevor Beach Day.
When Canada Tourism Commission announced Canada’s top 10 beaches, Rathtrevor Beach in Parksville on Vancouver Island made the list!
It’s no wonder why, with so many qualities about this beach that make it so wonderful.
Our most recent trip to Rathtrevor Beach was a few weeks ago on a camping trip. We stayed at campground appropriately named Rathtrevor Beach Park. The best thing about this campground was the proximity to one of the top 10 beaches in all of Canada.
Our family loves the beach, with me leading the way as the top beach lover in our family. I could literally spend every day, all day long, just playing in the water with the kids, building sand castles, and then defending them against the unstoppable tide.
Camping for me was synonymous with going to the beach.
One time Gretta and I went camping in Yellowstone National Park and I was so confused on what to do because there were no great beaches around. That’s when I realized I was addicted to sunny skies, endless sand and surf!
What makes Rathtrevor Beach so great that it made the top 10 list? Easy! Here are three things we LOVE about this beach.
1. The tide recedes almost a full kilometre leaving an endless beach play area.
Go fly a kite, play frisbee, splash around in the warm tide pools, collect shells and if you are my daughter… well you can collect baby crabs and make a home for them… giving them ample sleep, wake, and bath/waterslide cycle while preparing your home with large castle walls against the impending doom of the eventual incoming tide. Always a favourite.
2. The water is SOOOOO WARM!
One of the warmest ocean water beaches in all of Canada! When the tide goes out, the sun bakes the sand all day long, and then when the tide comes back in, the combination of shallow water, hot summer sand produces tropical water temperatures. Yes, in Canada!
3. Rathtrevor Beach is safe for kids.
Little ones can play in the tide pools; bigger ones can venture out into the water for a mile and still be up to their waist. No need to be concerned of your kids hitting a surprise under water drop off on this beach.
Most Important Thing To Know About Rathtrevor Beach… Before You Go!
While the shallow water, extreme tides, and long sandy beach brings a lot of positives… it can be pretty annoying to arrive at the beach at the wrong timing of the tide. When we were new to the beach and arriving at the wrong time, we were literally moving our belongings and the stroller up to 10 times!
You arrive too early and you are chasing the receding ocean water all day long (Litterally, we are talking a kilometre!). Some don’t care, but I like to be close by the ocean to mix up beach time and water time. If you arrive too late, opposite problem… you are having to keep a close eye on your beach set up as you retreat away from the incoming tide.
It’s not uncommon to see visitors to the beach collecting their belongings floating around in the water. I now know swear words in multiple languages from Europeans dashing across the beach in their speedos!
How do you avoid this issue and maximize your time playing and not being a nomadic beach goer?
Here is my favourite routine for Rathtrevor Beach:
Arrive for your day at the beach as the tide is about an hour away from being at high tide. Pick a spot to set up where you know you won’t have to move because of the incoming tide. This way you get a longer period of time close to the water.
OR if you are feeling like a fun adventure… pick a slightly appearing island to set up on and take an educated guess as to whether the island will last during the incoming tide.
We had fun with this one! Okay, I did! Gretta was along for the ride.
If you are camping at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park or staying in one of the beach resorts, take a family mid-afternoon break and have an early dinner.
After dinner, the water will be super warm as the tide is coming back in.
My oldest boy Titus’ favourite thing to do in the evening is build your castle empire and defend it from the incoming flood. Your kids imaginations will go wild!
Two Additional Tips:
Bring lots of water!
If you set up at low tide closer to the water, you are pretty far from any drinking water. Gretta says “Bring a chair and shade. A chair because the sand can be pretty wet at different points in the day. Bring shade on a hot sunny day because you aren’t going to find any on this beach.”
Oh, and we found out that dogs aren’t welcome on all parts of the beach unfortunately…
At certain times of the week park employees will kindly point that out if you are close by them. Our Golden absolutely loves the beach, so we found times for him to get his beach time too off to the side of the official Rathtrevor beach park area.
Location of Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park on Goolgle Maps – Parksville, BC (35 minutes North of Nanaimo)
This place looks like heaven, your beach days remind me so much of my childhood holidays to Cornwall and other seaside destinations in England - I would spend hours building sandcastles, digging holes, playing in the water or sliding down sand-dunes. Great advice on catching the tide right, I love the photo of your family "stranded" on the little island, and the separate island for the dog - Brilliant! -
Glad we could bring back some special memories for you, Paul. And as any avid beach-goer knows, timing the tide is half the battle! -
My favourite beach on Vancouver Island has got to be Chestermans Beach in Tofino but I haven't been to Rathtrevor beach, it looks pretty amazing too :) -
Chesterman Beach is fantastic! We spent time there when we went surfing as a family. Rathtrevor is totally different though as it doesn't have any waves. It's such a peaceful, calm part of the ocean. -g -
Sounds great! I've always felt that I couldn't live too far from an ocean, I just love the beach so much. And I also love beaches where the tide recedes so much. We spend time each year in Provincetown MA on Cape Cod and love to walk out in the tidepools and look for crabs, snails and other sea creatures. -
Yes, Tamara, living by the ocean is sure wonderful. Even if you don't live close enough to see it every day, it's nice to be within a day's drive for memorable holidays. -g -
I love this beach as well and have so many fond memories of going there as a kid with my family. You're kids are so lucky to have parents that get out and explore their own back yard, especially since Vancouver Island is so very beautiful. -
We hope they see it that way, Sarah. We think our backyard is pretty special. Did you travel around much of the island as a child? -g -
What a cool beach! I love the idea of picking a little island and gambling to see if it will be covered. Although I'd probably keep my dry clothes/towels farther back on the shore just to be safe. Looks like a lot of fun! -
It's one of Jay's favourite games to play every time we come here. :) I'm less enthusiastic about it, but when it works, it's quite nice. -g -
What a great article. Brings back lazy evening memories from my childhood and floating around on a log. The warm waters are something I too enjoy particularly at the end of a hot day with a high tide. Just a quick FYI.... Although BC Parks bylaws require domestic animals remain on leash at all times in all of the BC Parks, particular to Rathtrevor, they do not allow dogs on the 'main' beach, but they are permitted on the sand/rock beach along from the point, on leash. The beach areas outside of parks boundaries (resort area) are okay. -
Hi Karin! Yup, a friendly park worker let us know that very thing. I'll need to edit the article with that dog info. Happy travels! J -