Vancouver's Wreck Beach On A Summer's Day
Towering forested cliffs, soaring bald and golden eagles, flashes of kingfisher and great blue heron blues, and Pileatted woodpeckers reds add to the multi-hued palette that "paints" all 7.8 kilometers of Wreck Beach on a summer's day.
Visited by over 500,000 visitors year round, Wreck Beach is an international Mecca for the gay naturalist traveler. Wreck Beach offers a plethora of sights, activities, and foods found nowhere else in the world. Nowhere else can one ski in the morning and sunbathe au naturel on shimmering sandy beaches in the afternoon!
Billed as a clothing-optional beach in 1985 to stop criticism that it was a haven for just an elitist few "hippie nudies," the beach had its 70-year nude-friendly tradition officially sanctioned in the '90's.
The 7.8 kilometer-long Wreck Beach has many "personalities." Deep estuaries allow the might Fraser River's salmonid to rest and grow before tackling the sea. It is very quiet here, removed from the hustle and bustle of the main beach at Trail 6. This is your best bet for bird watching, and to see the elusive river otters, which have made a slow comeback since the dredging of 1977. In all, about seven trails access the beach.
Along the Trail 4 beach, below the Museum of Anthropology, the atmosphere is again quiet, as it is within the estuaries' reach of the beach. Those seeking a more laid-back atmosphere frequent this area.
The Trail 3 beach is mostly a river cobble-bermed beach, built to forestall cliff erosion behind the beach where the UBC buildings perch precariously near the cliff's edge. Remnants of two old WWII gun emplacement towers can still be seen at either end of this beach, adorned with various graffiti.
The Arcadia end of the beach, where there is also a year-round, dogs-off-leach section, affords the naturist breathtaking views of Howe Sound and the North Shore mountains, including Lions Gate, and the City of Vancouver skyline.
Gay men can be found on all parts of Wreck Beach, but more remote areas south of Trail 6 (to the left when facing the water) tend to be populated almost exclusively by gay men. Many of the trails are very cruisy.
The Trail 6 beach, is the most widely used by newcomers and regulars. Like an international bazaar, one can buy almost anything, from tiny carved incense boxes to full body massages, by either Dee or Diana. Bedspreads billowing colorfully against blue skies resemble Tibetan prayer flags, and carved Indonesian masks add the exotic. Drums, both African and Jamaican, start early in the day and add to the musical ambience, along with the occasional sax, portable keyboard, and a host of guitars. By late afternoon, the music and the dancing build in intensity, and one is transported into the heard of Wreck Beach, which cuts across any language barriers.
And, for those who don't bring their own food, there's a plethora of food and drink. It is always better to buy from naked people instead of the newcomers who pop up fully clothed from time to time. Stormin's Norman's smokies and his beef, ostrich, or buffalo burgers are devoured amidst surrounds far more beautiful than in any restaurant. Patrick's Nudius Foodius Greek food, particularly his meat dishes, are works of art and succulent beyond belief. Lucy's Peruvian sandwiches and empanada's are made fresh daily, but the real culinary treat is the verde sauce she creates herself. And, of course, there are Abduhl's sandwiches served amidst the flower gardens he has personally created, and which he lovingly lends each day.
Icy cold drinks, ranging from water to soft drinks, can be purchased from Laurie and Kerry at the top of Trail 6, or from roving vendors. Illegal beer vendors must, as at other beaches, play hide and seek with the local police.
As the sun sets over Texada Island to the West, everything else slows in time with the ebb and flow of the tides, until the sun suddenly slips below the far horizon as ungodly collective howls build in a crecendo celebration of another day well lived!
For directions on how to reach the beach by various routes, consult the Wreck Beach website at www.wreckbeach.org.