Since I cycle to work to downtown Vancouver, I can ride around the Stanley Park Seawall any time I wish before, during or after work. The Seawall is a flat 10 km added ride to my already 30 km roundtrip commute (made easier with an ebike).
As North Vancouver resident I ride and walk the Seawall fairly often. If I were a tourist, I’d put it at the top or toward the top of my to-do list. It’s a great experience and a great way to see Vancouver and the surrounding area.
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What is the Stanley Park Seawall?
It’s a walking and cycling route that circles the perimeter of Stanley Park. Stanley Park is a peninsula on the Western tip of downtown Vancouver surrounded by water on three sides – Burrard Inlet to the north and English Bay to the west. Stanley Park is a sizable urban park spanning 4.049 km2. There are trails throughout, a rose garden, lagoon, a perimeter road for cars, the Vancouver Aquarium and most famous of all, the Seawall path or lane.
As you go around Stanley Park on the Seawall, you’ll enjoy views of the ocean, North Shore Mountains, English Bay harbour, two sandy beaches, towering evergreen trees and the stunning Vancouver skyline. It’s definitely an impressive urban park.
It’s a 10 Km distance which makes it a long walk, but a perfect distance of cycling. Hence, it’s an insanely cycling destination and activity for tourists and residents. Another nice feature, other than the incredible scenery is it’s flat. Flat is pretty rare in Vancouver, especially if you head south or North of the city.
How long does it take?
Count on it taking 50 to 75 minutes on a bike. Longer if you walk. It’s busy when the sun is out so you can’t go too fast.
Here is some basic info and points of interest.
Points of Interest
1. Brockton Point Lighthouse
2. Vancouver Aquarium
You need to take a path off the seawall into the park to access the aquarium. Definitely a fun place to go with kids – our kids love the place.
3. Lion’s Gate Bridge
Without a doubt, this is the nicest bridge in the Vancouver area.
4. North Shore Mountains
5. Third Beach
Read my full Third Beach write-up here.
6. Lost Lagoon
7. Second Beach
There’s a public pool at Second Beach as well so if you’re hot, set aside time for a dip. It’s a huge pool on the edge of English Bay. Kids love it.
More Photos of the Seawall
Where do you start?
You can start at either end of Denman Street. The south end of Denman is English Bay (Second Beach) which provides an entry point. The north end of Denman is in the Coal Harbour area and offers easy access as well.
Is it crowded?
Yes. If it’s nice weather, it’s crowded with walkers, cyclists, rollerbladers, etc. Do not expect to rip around it at 20 Km per hour. Go into it anticipating a nice, slow, leisurely ride because you will go nuts trying to pass people, which isn’t always easy or possible to do. If you want to set a speed record around Stanley Park, cycle the road (which is also done).
Can you use it year-around?
Yes, but it rains a lot in Vancouver.
Do cars also use the seawall?
No. Cars are not permitted. There’s a designated cycling lane and a separate walking lane. This definitely is a great feature and one of several reasons it’s so popular.
Is it dangerous?
The path is fairly wide, paved with asphalt with clear curbs so overall it’s safe. However, if you go too fast, you could easily crash into other cyclists and/or walkers. There are some areas that have a fairly high steep drop into rocks or ocean below so you definitely don’t want to go over the edge.
There are some blind corners around rocky cliffs, so cycle accordingly. You never know what’s around the corner.
Are there separate cycling and walking lanes?
Yes, there’s a designated cycling lane and a separate walking lane.
Is it okay for kids?
Yes, it is. You can even take younger kids on a strider or scooter. It’s super chill. I see kids there all the time.
Is it one-way or two-way?
Haha, this is something many people don’t realize. It’s one-way and goes in a counterclockwise direction only. Do not go against the flow. The best case scenario is you’ll anger a lot of people who will yell at you that you’re going the wrong way. The worst case scenario is a nasty head-on crash.
Are there bikes for rent for the Seawall?
Yes. I recommend English Bay Bike Rentals on Davie at Denman. They rent Specialized bicycles (a very good brand – I bought my 2 Specialized bikes from there). They have many models and sizes to choose from, including electric bikes. It’s a great shop at the foot of the seawall. Not only are the bikes high quality, but the rental rates are very, very good.
Can you use an electric bike?
Yes, you can… but unless there happens to be nobody using it, you won’t be able to go all that fast.
Are there bathrooms along the way?
There are bathrooms at Lumberman’s Arch Concession, the Aquarium (a bit of a detour inland), Third Beach and Second Beach.
Is there a place to buy food or drinks?
Yes. There are the Lumberman’s Arch concession, Third Beach concession and Second Beach concession. There’s also the famous and delicious Teahouse restaurant at Third Beach and Cactus Club at Second Beach. You also come out onto Denman Street which has plenty of restaurants.
I love this ride, especially in the Spring, Summer and Fall on nice days. I get a little exercise, get to be outside and enjoy incredible views of the ocean, trees, beaches and the beautiful Vancouver skyline (which I never grow tired of).
It’s great for a solo ride, with friends and/or your family. You can make it a long walk, leisurely bike ride or some other wheeled contraption you might have.
Is it worth renting a bike for?
Yes, definitely. It’s a must-do activity while visiting Vancouver.