The Stanley Park Seawall runs 9 kilometres (5.6 miles) around the entire park along the water's edge. People walk, run, bicycle, rollerblade, and skateboard on the seawall. There is magnificent scenery and many attractions, statues, plaques, and benches along the seawall. The seawall is possibly the most popular attraction of Stanley Park!
2022-12-15 UPDATE: The Stanley Park Seawall is closed from Third Beach to Prospect Point due to annual rock scaling.
The Stanley Park Seawall passes close by to numerous attractions such as the Totem Poles, Brockton Point Lighthouse, Girl in Wetsuit statue, SS Empress of Japan Figurehead, Lumbermens' Arch, Lions Gate Bridge, Siwash Rock, Third Beach, and Second Beach.
A walk on the Stanley Park seawall is a must do for people visiting Vancouver. You can take in the fantastic views. There are fantastic views of downtown Vancouver, Burrard Inlet, Lions Gate Bridge, North and West Vancouver, and as far as Vancouver Island from the Stanley Park seawall. There are lots of benches along the way that you can sit on to rest or just enjoy the views!
The Stanley Park Seawall is actually two paths. Closest to the water is the walking path. On the inside of this path is the bicycle/rollerblade/skateboard path. The walking path is bi-directional. The bicycle/rollerblade/skateboard path is one way counter-clockwise. It is this way because it is too narrow for bicycles to go both directions and used to cause conflicts with the walkers.
Construction of the seawall started in 1914 after the Federal Government and the Vancouver Parks board authorized it. The original intention was to prevent erosion from the waves caused by passing ships. The majority of the seawall was completed by 1971. However, it wasn't until 1980 that the entire seawall was linked to the English Bay Seawall.
One man, James "Jimmy" Cunningham built and oversaw the construction of a large part of the Stanley Park seawall. He was a Scottish stonemason who spent 32 years from 1931 to 1963 building the seawall. After his retirement he continued to drop by and keep an eye on the construction. He died on 29 September 1963. His and his wife's ashes were put in the cliff face near Siwash Rock. There is a plaque in the cliff commemorating him.
There is an annual 10k run race that is called the James Cunningham Seawall Race. This race started in 1971 and is the oldest continuous race in the city!
The seawall is mainly flat. There is a slight incline from Hallelujah Point to Brockton Point Lighthouse.
It takes an average person about 3-4 hours to casually walk the entire seawall. Note that you can walk in either direction on the seawall.
It takes less than 1 hour to casually bicycle around the entire seawall. Note that you have to ride counter-clockwise on the bicycle/rollerblade/skateboard path.