The Best Swimming Spots on Vancouver Island for Boaters

Swimming Holes Accessible by Boat on Vancouver Island

If you are looking for boat-accessible swimming holes, Vancouver Island is the place to be. Filled with numerous rivers, lakes and beaches that are accessible only by boat, there are many places to anchor your boat to go for a safe and exhilarating swim.

Here’s a list of some of the best swimming spots around Vancouver Island that are safe and fun for the whole family and reachable in a day from Van Isle Marina.

Snake Island

This Nanaimo swimming spot located near Departure Bay is a favourite among locals and visitors who reach it by boat, kayak or canoe. The small, uninhabited island is renowned for its diving experiences, bird watching opportunities and the chance to get up-close and personal with some harbour seals. If you do choose to wade or paddle in the Snake Island waters, be on high alert for ferries and other boaters in this busy waterway.

Rugged Point Marine Park

Turn your swimming hole adventure into a camping trip at Rugged Point Marine Park. This park is located on the west coast of northern Vancouver Island at the southwest end of Kyuquot Channel. The park is packed with camping amenities and opportunities to enjoy other activities such as canoeing, fishing, and windsurfing. Take some time to explore the hiking trails too. Anchor your yacht in Rugged Cove or Dixie Cove both popular spots among local boaters thanks to their safe anchoring areas.

Broken Group Islands

Take a longer-haul boat trip to the Broken Group Islands on the west coast of Vancouver Island. In order to fully explore this cluster of stunning islands, drop your anchor and get into your kayaks. Swimming and snorkelling are a must when visiting the Broken Group Islands as you might even be able to see some fish.

Grant Bay

Skip the hike to Grant Bay and sail through it instead via the northwest coast of Vancouver Island. You’ll be rewarded with a beautiful, secluded white sandy beach to relax and swim at. This remote recreation area has day-use facilities and rustic campsites, or take the chance to try out some boat camping

Vargas Island Provincial Park

This boat-side swimming hole comes with the addition of great wildlife viewing and camping amenities at Vargas Island Provincial Park in Clayoquot Sound. Access the island by boat immediately northwest of Tofino and west of Meares Island on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

You’ll see sheltered channels and bays, an intertidal lagoon and ancient sand berms. If you’re lucky you might see grey whales frolicking nearby.

Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park

This provincial park and popular Vancouver Island swimming hole close to Cortes Island on the east coast is known as a boater’s paradise. Visitors can enjoy the calm waters and vistas while taking in a long stretch of shoreline. Moor in one of three anchorage points: Prideaux Haven, Tenedos Bay or Grace Harbour.

Freshwater lake swimming is available at Unwin Lake, a short 10-minute walk from Tenedos Bay. Desolation Sound is a popular spot, so expect to see other boaters, but rest assured there is plenty of room for everyone.

Lasqueti Island

Off the east coast of Vancouver Island is a scenic swimming hole in Lasqueti Island. This off-grid island has a population of 500 people and no public campgrounds, but the waters are ideal for cold water scuba diving. If you’re boating in the area and have your scuba license, take the plunge and discover some deep-sea magic.

Hot Springs Cove in Maquinna Provincial Park

Treat yourself to a geothermal swimming experience that’s just northwest of Tofino in Clayoquot Sound. A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Hot Springs Cove is surrounded by the stunning scenery of Maquinna Provincial Park. You’ll have to anchor your boat and go for a 2km hike along sturdy boardwalks and wooden stairs through the rainforest to access the hot springs, but the journey is well worth it and the long soak in the naturally heated water is a great reward.

Rathtrevor Beach

Along the east coast lies one of the best swimming spots of Vancouver Island, Rathtrevor Beach. This 2km long sandy beach is a well-loved landmark and offers safe swimming for younger children thanks to shallow warm water and low tide.  A provincial campsite, plenty of picnic tables and educational activities for the whole family make this a great spot to explore. Since it sits along the Strait of Georgia, Rathtrevor Beach is an ideal place to drop anchor and enjoy a swim.

Kye Bay

Kye Bay, in Comox, offers a lot of adventure possibilities for boating families. During the summer months, the ocean water temperature is moderate and great for swimming. Shallow tidal pools filled with marine life and a superior texture of sand ideal for building sandcastles makes this a perfect place to drop anchor.  You can bring the whole family to this lovely bay, including your dog.

First Lake, Nanaimo

If you can tow your boat, consider taking the logging roads just south of Nanaimo to First Lake, a shallow freshwater lake with a publicly accessible boat launch. The lake, part of a chain of three lakes that link to the Nanaimo River, is the site of an old timber mill and there are a few private campsites dotted along the eastern shore.

While in the area, don’t miss the must-do local summer experience. Follow the stream of cars to one of the many Nanaimo River swimming holes which are beautifully clear and fresh on a hot summer’s day.

Make Your Next Boating Adventure Happen with a New Yacht from Van Isle Marina

Boat ownership can unlock many opportunities to explore and create new memories with family and friends.

Tap into your inner adventurer and find the ideal boat to take you on your next Vancouver Island swimming adventure at Van Isle Marina. Based in Sidney, BC we are ideally placed for a tour of the top Vancouver Island swimming holes. 

Our Yacht sales team will be glad to help you find the best boat for your needs and provide some tips for local boating trips too. Contact us today for more information about yachts currently for sale.