Nestled on the fringes of the Lower Mainland, White Rock is a gem waiting to be explored. With its pristine beaches, vibrant promenade, and laid-back feel, it’s no wonder that this seaside town is a favourite among locals and tourists alike.
Never been? Well, let me show you why you should add this coastal paradise to your travel itinerary.
So join me, will you, as we dive deep into the wonders of White Rock, BC.
White Rock, BC
White Rock is more than just a picturesque town; it’s a destination filled with adventures, culinary delights, and cultural experiences.
Located about 50 minutes from Downtown Vancouver, it is closer to the US border and about 40 min from Bellingham. Of course, this figure heavily depends on traffic at the US-Canada Border.
The municipality is home to just over 20,000 residents. But it is surrounded on three sides by Surrey, Vancouver’s largest suburb at well over 500,000 people. And the areas tend to blend somewhat.
As such, it offers a unique blend of coastal beauty, peaceful tranquillity, and urban sophistication that is just waiting to be explored.
So, let’s look at some of my favourite things to do in White Rock, BC.
Things to Do in White Rock
Visit the Iconic White Rock Pier
No visit is complete without a stroll on the White Rock Pier. As Canada’s longest pier, it stretches 470m/1542 ft over the shimmering waters of Semiamhoo Bay.
Originally built in 1914, the pier offers panoramic views of the bay and the distant US coastline. It’s the perfect place to watch the sunset or take an after-dinner stroll. And you’ll find local fisherman trying their luck at snagging dinner.
Over the years, it has witnessed numerous events, from major restorations to winter storms, and was even ripped in half in 2018. Yet the pier still stands as a testament to the town’s resilience and charm.
Related: 26 Vancouver Summertime Activities
Wander the Beachside Marine Drive Promenade
Adjacent to the pier is the famed White Rock Promenade. Spanning 2.2 km, this scenic walkway is lined with vibrant restaurants, cozy cafes, and delightful ice cream parlours. The wide selection of dining and drinking options is somewhat of a rarity relative to most of Vancouver’s best beaches. So why not take advantage?
As you walk, the gentle sound of waves and the distant laughter of beachgoers create a serene ambiance. On a summer day, you’ll see visitors from all across the Lower Mainland jockeying for a table after a day spent on White Rock beach.
Whether you’re in the mood for a leisurely walk, a delicious meal, or simply to soak in the views, the promenade is the place to be.
Related: 12 Things to do at Granville Island
Check Out the Legendary White Rock
Did you know that the city gained its name from an actual white rock? This massive boulder measures over 4 metres high and weighs a reported 486 tonnes! And it has a fascinating history that matches its size.
Called P’Quals by the Semiahmoo First Nation, the rock received its vibrant white colour from the guano, resulting from birds feeding on the plethora of local shellfish! And legends say it was once so bright that sailors used it as a beacon.
Today, the rock is often painted to maintain its iconic appearance. And it stands as a city symbol and a must-visit attraction. You can find it on White Rock Beach, a short stroll east of the pier.
Related: The 14 Best Day Trips from Vancouver
Indulge in White Rock’s Culinary Delights
This coastal town might be known for its stunning beaches and iconic pier, but let me tell you, its culinary scene is the real star of the show. Whether you’re looking for British-style fish and chips, a scoop of gelato, or a full-on fine-dining experience, White Rock has you covered.
Here are a few of our favourites:
- The Wooden Spoon – This chic spot is the local go-to for breakfast and brunch.
- Zapoteca’s – Authentic Mexican cuisine made with the freshest local ingredients.
- Moby Dick – A family-friendly local institution known for its fish and chips.
- Famous Rome Ice Cream – The best of an endless array of promenade ice cream shops.
- Sushi Iwa – A fantastic sushi joint situated right along the promenade.
- Cosmos – Serving some of the Lower Mainland’s best cuisine for 40+ years.
Related: The 8 Best Vancouver Food Tours
Lounge Around on White Rock Beach
We’ve already mentioned the Pier. And we’ve waxed lyrical about the city’s beautiful promenade. But without White Rock Beach, these places wouldn’t even exist. The area has around eight kilometres of shore, divided into “East Beach” and “West Beach,” by a grassy knoll known as “the hump.”
Trust me, it’s the kind of place that postcards are made of. But no postcard can truly capture the magic of being here. First off, let’s talk about the sand. Though it’s pebbly in spots, once you wander rout it’s soft, golden, and perfect for building sandcastles or lounging around with a good book.
The water? Crystal clear and inviting, especially on those warm summer days. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot a playful seal or two! The beach has tidal flats that create warm pools and allow you to seemingly walk out forever!
For families, White Rock Beach is a dream come true. Kids can splash in shallow waters, hunt for seashells, dig clams, or fly a kite. And parents can relax, knowing that the beach is safe and well-maintained.
Embark on a Whale Watching Tour from Crescent Beach
Have you ever dreamt of witnessing the majestic dance of whales, feeling the thrill as they breach the water’s surface? Well, pack your binoculars and sun hats because White Rock Sea Tours is about to make that dream come true!
They operate out of Crescent Beach Marina, slightly northwest of the city centre. This location places them closer to the grounds than most Vancouver Whale Watching tours. This means you’ll spend more time scouting for whales than travelling!
Orcas might be the main attraction, but they aren’t the only stars of the show. Humpback whales, gray whales, and even the occasional minke can be spotted frolicking in these waters.
These guided tours, often helmed by marine biologists, not only give you a front-row seat to the action but also offer fascinating insights into the lives of these magnificent creatures. Is Crescent Beach a little far? Then check out our list of local alternatives by clicking the button below.
Check out the Local Galleries & Museums
If you think White Rock is just about pristine beaches and delicious seafood, think again. This coastal gem is bursting at the seams with vibrant art, eclectic galleries, and museums that tell tales of days gone by.
The White Rock Gallery is a must-visit, with its curated collection of paintings, sculptures, and ceramics. And if you’re in the mood to discover emerging artists, Landmark Pop-Uptown Gallery is where the magic happens.
For those with a penchant for history, the White Rock Museum is a treasure trove. Housed in a historic train station, this museum offers a deep dive into the town’s rich past. From indigenous artifacts to exhibits on the town’s seaside heritage, it’s a journey through time that both kids and adults will adore. And it’s located right next to the beach!
Related: The 11 Best Museums in Vancouver
Enjoy the Local Events & Festivals
If you’re looking for a destination that’s as lively as it is lovely, you’re in luck. This coastal town is a bubbling cauldron of events and festivals that’ll literally have you dancing in the streets!
Here are a few of the local highlights:
- White Rock Sea Festival: Kick off your summer with a splash! Held the first weekend in August, this festival is a celebration of all things oceanic. Think mermaid costumes, salmon BBQs, sandcastle competitions, and a parade as vibrant as the town itself. And for the grand finale? A fireworks display that’ll light up your evening and your Instagram feed!
- White Rock Farmers’ Market: Every Sunday from April to October, the town transforms into a foodie’s paradise. Fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, and homemade jams – it’s a feast for your senses. And with live music and crafts, it’s a perfect family outing.
- Concerts at the Pier: Music lovers, rejoice! Throughout the summer, the iconic pier hosts a series of free concerts. From jazz to rock, there’s a rhythm for every soul. So, grab a blanket and some snacks and sway to the melodies as the sun sets.
- Canada Day by the Bay: An all-day event celebrating our country’s birthday on July 1st. You’ll find music, dance performances, food, local vendors, and kids’ activities capped by an epic fireworks display over the beach.
White Rock, BC, Canada FAQs
Ready for your visit to White Rock, BC?
White Rock blends natural beauty, cultural richness, and gastronomic delights with a tranquillity not often found this close to a thriving metropolis.
Whether you’re a beach bum, a foodie, or someone seeking relaxation, this peaceful enclave has something for everyone.
So pack your bags and set off on an unforgettable journey to the coastal paradise that is White Rock, BC.