Our Facebook page recently asked “what’s your favourite sunset spot”, and we got a lot of varied answers. One this is certain though, everyone has their favourite spot. I found mine a few years ago during my first summer in Vancouver: Wreck Beach. You may have heard of the beach before; it’s not only famous for being a gorgeous place to spend a sunny summer afternoon, it’s also Vancouver’s only ‘clothing optional’ beach. The nude part made me a bit nervous at first, but once I was there I completely relaxed. The great thing is that as many people are totally naked, there are also plenty of people partially or fully dressed. The layout of the beach accommodates this; the more hardcore nudists stay towards the far end of the beach, and the mostly dressed closer to the entrance. The funny thing is that after a while you almost forget that people are nude. Once the novelty wears off, instead of being surrounded by nudists you start just seeing people. A friend of mine (who goes totally nude) observed that when you’re naked and talking to other naked people it almost feels more comfortable because “everyone actually looks you in the eyes”. That’s probably out of politeness more than anything, but there’s something to be said about taking away all the mystery that clothing gives you.
The place is full of hippies, young and old (full disclosure: I might be a hippy). A who have been going there since the 60s, and have a lot of pride for it. The only times I’ve seen a few ‘weirdos’ walking around and gawking at people, they’ve been shamed off the beach by the regulars who feel like the beach is theirs to protect. Then there’s the vendors selling everything from blankets, clothing, jewelry, bison burgers, ice creams, drinks and some ‘special’ cookies. The cops are fully aware that people are drinking on the beach and they do regular checks, so if you are planning to drink, make sure it’s discreet.
That’s why I love Wreck Beach, but I haven’t said anything about the sunset yet. When sunset comes, everyone on the beach claps for the sun for another great day (not surprising in a city where it rains for most of the year). After the sun sets, the party starts. The musicians who have been spread across the beach playing their drums or guitars all day, join together while someone starts a bonfire. Their friends and fellow beach-goers then join in and start to dance and carry on partying and drinking. Once it gets totally dark the cops rear their heads again and move the final partyers on. Then everyone makes their way back up the 5,000 stairs (it feels like that many after a day in the sun anyway) through the forest and back on to the UBC lands, and another perfect day at Wreck beach is complete.