A pebble beach slopes gently into Howe Sound in Porteau Cove Provincial Park. On summer days when the tide is low and the sun high, the warm rocks heat the incoming waters, making swimming here a pleasure. For those who brave the ocean, there are hot showers nearby in the changing rooms. For some freshwater dipping, head to Browning Lake in Murrin Provincial Park.
Squamish is close to sea level, which means that the small lakes in the area actually warm up during summer months. Alice Lake is the biggest and has a sandy beach at both ends, changing rooms, and hot showers, but other sites are a bit of a letdown. Not that the Forest Service recreation sites at Cat, Brohm, and Levette Lakes won’t satisfy; it’s just that they’re rustic by comparison.
Cat Lake has a well-earned reputation as a place for swingers – rope swingers, that is. You can tell where the rope is by following the whoops made by those who arrive ahead of you. Makeshift rafts, free for the commandeering, are secured at several places around the shoreline. Pull out on one into the sunshine. The Cat Lake Forest Road is on the east side of Hwy 99 north of Alice Lake Provincial Park. Watch for a highway sign that says ‘Whistler 44 km’ and make the next right turn. Cat Lake lies 1.2 miles (2 km) from here. Note: On weekends, a gate blocks vehicle access near the lake. You’ll have to walk a short distance uphill from the parking area.
Brohm Lake is just north of Cat Lake, on the west side of Hwy 99. Although its south end is quite marshy, it’s north half is clear and deep. For the easiest approach, follow the trail from the parking lot down to the boat launch. Otherwise, head north along the rocky perimeter and find a spot to dive (or swing) in.
Levette Lake is a local favourite with those whose vehicles can make the climb. There’s a very steep section just before the lake. Take it easy and you’ll do fine. The road begins across from the North Vancouver Outdoors School on Paradise Valley Road. Along the way you’ll pass Evans Lake, site of a private forestry camp.
Aptly named Swim Lake in Brandywine Falls Provincial Park is a refreshing place to take a plunge. You’ll have to make your way along a rough trail around the lake’s perimeter to a somewhat marshy clearing at the far end. This is the most suitable location for swimming. The setting is glorious. Dagger-shaped Black Tusk dominates the skyline, while cool green smells waft out of the surrounding forest.
There are six parks in Whistler where you’ll find beaches and diving docks. Alpha Lake Park is one of the smaller ones, as is Green Lake Park in the Emerald Estates neighbourhood. Lakeside, Wayside (a dock is moored just far enough offshore to make swimmers appreciate reaching it after a plunge in the cold waters of Alta Lake), and Rainbow Parks on Alta Lake and the beach at Lost Lake are the most popular by far. You’ll find discreet clothing-optional bathing at Lost Lake, at the opposite end of the lake from the beach.