The beachside community of Birch Bay feels like a trip back in time. Driving down Birch Bay Drive in the middle of summer, the breeze will conjure up collective pop cultural memories, like poodle skirts and classic cars cruising the strip. Birch Bay is home to both permanent residents and many, mainly Canadian, summer residents. It attracts visitors seeking the sand and warm, shallow waters of the bay.
Year after year, out-of-towners return to enjoy walks along the beach and the variety of nostalgic restaurants and stores, including The C Shop, which is stocked with homemade chocolates, sweets, ice cream and other seasonal treats.
This community enjoys a long curving beachfront with a newly constructed berm, and access to the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest. Located on the Pacific Flyway migratory bird route, Birch Bay is a birdwatching destination. Enthusiasts should pack binoculars so as to not miss any details while observing migratory species such as dunlin, brant and black-bellied plover from the panoramic view spot in Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve. This reserve features a fully accessible trail and 54 acres of forest. Follow the trail down the bluff to the beach overlooking the Strait of Georgia to catch a glimpse of resident great blue herons and bald eagles.
Roughly a mile and a half from the reserve is the 664-acre Birch Bay State Park, which offers campground, playground, picnic tables, boat launch, the Terrell Marsh Interpretive Trail, and BP Heron Center. The park is a great place for exploring tide pools in the summer.
Along the miles-long beach of Birch Bay, beachcombers can explore tidal pools, go clamming, crabbing, or push out into the open water in a kayak or paddleboard.
A new limestone pedestrian and biking path entices visitors for a walk along the bay’s shoreline. The new path was the result of a $15 million county project that has been years in the making. A restored beachhead with a natural shoreline now protects the roadway from storm damage.
If the waterfront and trails are not the adventure visitors are looking for, they can take a short drive or walk inland to Birch Bay Waterslides, the region’s largest water park, or the go-kart track and mini golf course at Station 49.
The summers are when Birch Bay comes alive through tourists and, of course, events and festivals. Pop into town for the Kite Festival on the weekend of June 24-25, the 4th of July, or National Night out on Tuesday, August 1. On July 29, the beach will be packed with amateur sandcastle architects for the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce’s annual Sand Sculpture Competition. The Rollback Weekend Car Show takes place on July 30 with classic cars on display and cruising Birch Bay Drive. For more details on events, go to birchbaychamber.com.
On August 26, the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce hosts a Derby Day celebrating the local culture and history of Birch Bay. The event features a parade, crab derby, a duck derby, vendors, poker run and more.
In Birch Bay, the retro beach town atmosphere will make visitors feel like time is standing still. Escape the hustle and bustle this summer with a trip back in time at Birch Bay.
For more information, visit birchbaychamber.com.
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