Sunshine, Beaches, and BC Ferries
Tsawwasseb, British Columbia, Canada
Location: 49° 00' North, 123° 04' West
Population: 21,090 (2001 Census)
Tsawwassen (almost always pronounced "Ta-wossen" although supposed to be prounced "Sa-wossen") is a part of the Greater Vancouver Regional District. It's actually one of three communities in the District Municipality of Delta. Tsawwassen is located on a peninsula. It's the most south-western point in Greater Vancouver before you reach the waters of the Strait of Georgia, or the border of Washington state in the USA.
Due the the microclimate of Greater Vancouver (where it rains more the closer you are to the mountains), Tsawwassen, being the furthest spot away from the mountains, is often the sunniest place in the metropolitan area. When it's raining in Vancouver, it's often sunny in Tsawwassen. Not bad, considering it's only a 45 minute drive between the two!
There is no industry within Tsawwassen, although to the immediate north is agricultural. Otherwise, Tsawwassen is a predominantly residential neighbourhood. It tends to attract families and retirees more than young urban couples. As a result, it's a nice, peaceful place to visit, but not necessarily a hub of excitement!
While there are shopping centres and restaurants, these would be my main reasons for visiting Tsawwassen:
Tsawwassen is home to the largest BC Ferries terminal in Greater Vancouver. If you're going to be taking a ferry over to Vancouver Island (Victoria or Nanaimo) or to the Gulf Islands, you'll be going to Tsawwassen to catch that ferry.
Located directly south of Tsawwassen is the town of Point Roberts. Now, Point Roberts has a bizarre situation because it's actually in the United States! Point Roberts is located on the very tip of the peninsula where Tsawwassen is located on, except the tip dips down across the border into the USA. As a result, Point Roberts is technically a part of the USA, but it's cut off from the rest of the country by water! There's no other way to enter Point Roberts without entering Tsawwassen first. If American citizens living in Point Roberts want to leave their town, they always have to enter Canada first before driving to the Peace Arch border crossing a 20 minute drive east. To say the least, a lot of homes at Point Roberts are owned by Canadians, or Americans working in Vancouver.
Tsawwassen's eastern side of the peninsula is located on Boundary Bay - a beautiful shallow bay which has some of the warmes and cleanest waters in all of Greater Vancouver. Not to mention, when the tide goes out, it goes waaaay out! At low tide, the beach extends for miles that it can easily take one full hour to walk from the shore to the edge of the water. As well, the beach is entirely sandy, quite unlike the barnacle-covered rocky beaches in Vancouver.
Centennial Beach is a part of Boundary Bay Regional Park, and in my opinion, the jewel of Tsawwassen. It's not a meat-market beach like Kits Beach in Vancouver, but more of a family recreational beach. There are many picnic and BBQ sites. There's Pajo's Fish & Chips for take-out food. There are bathroom and change room facilities, a playground, a baseball diamond, volleyball nets, and a beautiful panoramic setting.
At low tide, as I mentioned, you can walk out along the beach for miles. The beach at low tide consists of flat sandbars and shallow water channels. Inside these clear water channels are harmless jellyfish, scallops, crabs, flounders, sand dollars, and millions of tiny conic snails. It's a beautiful beach for admiring aquatic wildlife.
At high tide, Centennial Beach makes the perfect spot for swimming. Because the water is so shallow, you can walk quite a far distance from the shore, and the water will only by up to your waist. There isn't much of a current and there aren't really any waves. As a result, it's a popular place for children to swim.
What's also great about Centennial Beach are the trails heading north-west away from the beach. This takes you through some beautiful wetlands, home to many species of birds. All in all, if you want a relaxing beach afternoon trip out of Vancouver, Centennial is my recommendation!