White Rock Paddle

  • Parking and Launching:
  • Launching type: pebble beach
  • Difficulty – wind dependent. Very calm, shallow, and warm waters on a good day
  • Boat traffic – minimal boat traffic
  • View – great views of Mt Baker on a clear day. Expansive views across Boundary Bay towards Point Roberts, and across Semiahmoo Bay towards Blaine.
  • Other paddle highlights – cool to go under Canada’s Longest Pier. A chance to race against a passing train.
  • Facilities – paid parking, lots of restaurants and shops on Marine Drive, washroom at East Beach
  • Overall score – 7/10

White Rock Beach is a popular tourist destination. It has a chill vibe of a seaside town, and the promenade houses many restaurants and shops.

Due to the popularity, only paid parking is available here, for a hefty $4.50 per hour from March to October in the city lots. The Semiahmoo parking lot is on Semiahmoo First Nations territory, and it’s a flat fee of $7.00.

I found a few hours of peace on a Friday afternoon, and had a nice lunch before heading to a paddle.

Launching from West Beach was a breeze. After a controlled rail crossing, a concrete ramp leads to a rocky beach. Only a portable toilet is available here.

looking back towards West Beach

On this overcast day, the the wind and waves were minimal. No one else was on the water except for a sailboat.

I followed the boat towards the east, and marveled at the snow capped Mt Baker.

I made good time and arrived at the mouth of Campbell River. The tide was rising and flooding the river, and I was running low on time, so I only poked in for about 50 meters or so. There were a lot of barnacle-covered pilings under the surface, so extra caution should be taken.

I turned around and headed back west. The water was only about 1 foot deep close to shore. I counted dozens of sole fish swimming in all directions kicking up a sandy trail.

I tried to take a look at the Semiahmoo Parking Lot to scout out the launching situation, but my fin got caught and I didn’t have time to explore further.

From the Google satellite view, it looks like there are a few uncontrolled crossing over the railway and short narrow walking paths down to the beach.

The East Beach lot is another good launching destination, and it’s much closer to Semiahmoo River if that’s the destination. It also has a concrete ramp, controlled rail crossing, and it’s pretty close to a public washroom.

As this is a busy place, there were lots of audience on the walking trails and pier. It’s definitely not a connect-with-nature-and-serenity type of paddle.

Half way on my return paddle, I heard a train whistle from behind. I picked up my paddle pace to race it. For a surprisingly long time, I kept my lead. But eventually the train was victorious.

For a quick paddle, White Rock offers several unique features: Mt. Baker, the pier, sea life in the shallows, and a small river to explore. On shore, there is no shortage of restaurants, bars, and ice cream places to choose from.

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