Situated at the mouth of the Burrard Inlet, the Spanish Banks were named after the Spanish explorers that first sailed here from Europe in 1791. To commemorate the meeting of the English and Spanish explorers, two areas of the Burrard inlet were named English Bay and Spanish Banks by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1859.
Well known for its 1-kilometer tidal difference, the banks are a great place for exploring tide pools, taking log walks, and water sports. Small pools and shallow waterways make excellent areas for skim boarding, and Spanish Banks hosts skim boarding competitions each summer. The winds are strong in this area, so it a great place for windsurfing and kitesurfing as well.
The beach is broken up into three areas: East, West, and Extension. The East end has between eight and ten beach volleyball courts, a lifeguard, concessions, and restrooms. The West, which is actually the middle, also has restrooms and a lifeguard; the concessions are much bigger, however, and there is a large eating area just off the beach. The Extension is where the large beach ends and smaller, more intimate beaches are split up by wooded areas and piles of driftwood. The Extension also has a large grassy park area where dogs are allowed off leash and barbecues are permitted. At the end of the Extension is the dog beach, which also marks the very end of Vancouver's famous Sea Wall. This trail runs the entire length of Vancouver's shoreline, linking up all the beaches and making them all accessible by bike from just about anywhere.
The beach has soft, white sand and logs placed along the length of it to create privacy for sun bathers. The shallow waters make for a more desirable swimming temperature than most of the other swimming areas, and the Banks boast some of the cleanest waters in the inlet. With beautiful sunsets to the west over the mountains and a stunning view of Vancouver's skyline to the east, Spanish Banks is a great place to spend the day and stay late into the evening.