White Rock is a small community in Vancouver's southern suburbs surrounded on three sides by the city of Surrey, and to the south by the waters of Boundary Bay. The city is named for the 400-ton white rock that sits on the beach in the town centre. Its beach has long made it a weekend getaway for Vancouverites.
While the area to the northwest of the city of White Rock, along Crescent Beach as far as Blackie Spit, is formally South Surrey, locals commonly refer to it as "Crescent Beach" and think of it as White Rock. This guide will too.
See Vancouver for options to get in the Vancouver area by plane, by bus, and by train, and by boat.
White Rock town centre (Marine Drive along the beach) is at sea level, while the rest of the town is perched on a bench several hundred feet above. The town center is walkable but it is steep if you want to see other parts of the city.
The broader area — usually referred to as South Surrey but often referred to as White Rock — is quite large and will require a car to get to some areas. Translink operates bus service for all of Greater Vancouver. In White Rock and South Surrey most local buses are community shuttles. Most tourist areas of South Surrey are accessible by Translink.
Most parking in White Rock is pay parking. The cost fluctuates but it is most expensive off Marine Drive by the beach ($3.75 per hour in high season). The new pay-by-space system makes buying or adding time simple. Just enter your space number on any nearby dispenser, pay, take your receipt and walk away. There's no need to return to your vehicle or place your ticket on your vehicle's dash. If you want to add time later, just enter your stall number (printed on your receipt) at any one of 36 dispensers along the beach and choose your payment method. You can even pay by cell phone. (Requires registration with Verrus Mobile Technologies Inc. You'll must use a credit card the first time you call. Nominal user fees apply.) Details at the city's Parking page.
By public transit
TransLink, ☏ . The main public transit network in the Vancouver area, including: Bowen Island, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta, Langley, Lions Bay, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, Port Moody, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver, West Vancouver, and White Rock. Its network includes buses, SkyTrain (rail rapid transit), SeaBus (ferries), West Coast Express (commuter rail), and HandyDART (door-to-door shared-ride service for those who cannot ride public transit without assistance). Passengers can pay for fares using Compass Cards ($6 refundable deposit), Compass Tickets, or tap-to-pay using contactless credit cards (only American Express, Mastercard or Visa) or mobile wallets. Passengers using Compass Cards and Compass Tickets pay discounted fares. Passengers can transfer for up to 90 minutes, except if taking West Coast Express, in which case they can transfer for up to 120 minutes. On bus and HandyDART, passengers can also pay in cash, but in that case will not receive change and are not eligible for transfers. Zone based fares apply between Monday and Friday for trips starting before 6:30 pm, if travel involves SkyTrain or SeaBus. Outside of those hours or for travel on only bus or HandyDART, a single zone rate applies. If traveling by West Coast Express, a higher cost zone based fare system applies regardless of time of travel. Children 12 and under can ride for free. People aged 13 to 18, and 65 and older pay discounted concession fares.
A couple of buses provide links White Rock with other municipalities in the region and the SkyTrain.
- Bus #321 provides service from the Surrey Central station (SkyTrain Expo Line) in Surrey.
- Bus #351 provides express service from the Bridgeport station (SkyTrain Canada Line) in Richmond.
Standard adult transit fares (effective July 2022) to White Rock from Vancouver are $6.05 on weekdays and $3.10 on weekends and evenings after 6:30PM. Fares from elsewhere in the Vancouver region will vary between $3.10-$6.05.
- Pacific Cabs, ☏ .
By ride hailing
- 1 The White Rock, White Rock Promenade (about 100 m south-east of the White Rock Pier). The town's namesake is on the beach near the White Rock Pier. The rock was named for the large quantity of bird guano that covered it, but today is kept white by regular coats of white paint. Free.
- 2 White Rock Museum and Archives, 14970 Marine Dr, ☏ . M-F 10:30AM-5PM; Sa Su 11AM-5PM; holidays noon-5PM. A small museum in the old train station. It has displays on the city's history and a re-creation of the station's office. $3/$5 (students & seniors/adult). Children under 12, and Museum members, are free.
- 1 White Rock Beach, Parallel to Marine Drive. The big white rock, that gives the community its name, is on the beach near the pier on Semiahmoo Bay between Blaine in Washington State and White Rock. Nineteenth-century sailors used this rock as a beacon. The White Rock is visible while entering customs coming into Canada from across the bay. Some people claim to have had luck on the lottery by rubbing their tickets on the 486-tonne boulder resting on the beach. White Rock Beach is the waterfront area of the City of White Rock in the southwest corner of the lower mainland of British Columbia, bordering Washington State.
- 2 White Rock Promenade, Parallel to Marine Drive between Bay Street and Finlay Street (north-west end is at Bay Street and Marine Drive). Free.
- 3 White Rock Promenade, south-east (Finlay Street) end, Marine Drive and Finlay Street (at the western tip of Semiahmoo Park). Free.
White Rock has the largest and one of the most popular beaches in the Lower Mainland, located on the southern edge of the city alongside Marine Drive. The long sandy beach is perfect for everything from picnics to a game of frisbee. When the tide goes out there are many tidal pools that are left exposed and is a great place to see marine life up close. British Columbia's south coast is sheltered by Vancouver Island, because of this the water temperatures are relatively warm. If you don't want to walk in the sand, the White Rock Promenade stretches for 2.2 km (1.4 miles) next to Marine Drive.
The White Rock Promenade can be a pleasant dinnertime walk, especially at sunset, ideally with a low tide. Find a parking spot to the west part of Marine Drive, say near Bay St or Oxford Street. Walk eastwards down the beach. When you reach the pier, walk to end of it and back. Continue eastwards until the beachfront strip ends, at Finlay Street where Semiahmoo Park begins. There, you've done the nature/ocean thing. Now, cross Marine Drive. Walk back along the long line of restaurants, and get an idea from the vibe and the menus out front if you like them. Pick one for dinner, or make a reservation for later.
- 4 White Rock Pier, 15044 Marine Dr (Opposite Dolce Gelato). Apier that juts out nearly 500 meters from the shore. It is a popular place for a walk. During the summer some locals jump off the end of the pier, although this practice is discouraged and diving can be dangerous. Free.
The original version of the pier was built in 1912 and resembled nothing more than a floating dock about 300 feet in length. It was destroyed by winter storms in 1913.
In 1914 the pier was rebuilt with an eye to making it an international port. Although it was completed in August of that year, the onset of the First World War pushed the official opening back to November 14, 1914. The pier, now about 800 feet long, was granted a federal government approved extension in 1915 to 1542 ft.
The pier fell into disrepair several times over the years, often requiring government funding and community fundraising to restore it. The constant battering by storms and subsequent damage finally led to the completion in 1953 of a permanent rock breakwater at the end of the pier.
The pier almost caught fire a few times due to the proximity of nearby burning buildings and the fact that the pier was made of wood. In the 1940s & 1950s, the White Rock Pier was home to the Dolphin Restaurant. Around the same time, cars were allowed, leading to teenagers holding drag races on the pier, further damaging the structure.
On December 20, 2018, the Storm of the Century, with the equivalent of Category One hurricane force winds and damaging waves, ripped the sailboats from their moorings and forced them under and up through the pier, taking out a large midsection. A stranded pedestrian also required a Coast Guard rescue.
- 3 The White Rock Beach Gallery, 14970 Marine Dr (Waterfront promenade,just west of the White Rock Museum). M-F 10:30AM-4PM; Sa Su 10AM-5PM; holidays 10AM-5PM. White Rock, South Surrey, and wildlife of Canada postcards and greeting cards.
Restaurants in White Rock are split between those on the beach, usually offering patios and ocean views, typically on Marine Drive; and restaurants in the main commercial area away from the water. Restaurants in the Crescent Beach area (formally part of Surrey, but commonly grouped with White Rock) are mostly clustered on Bleecher Street near Blackie Spit, with a few near 128 St and 16th Ave.
On the beach
Marine Drive is packed with restaurants, from standards like fish and chips to ethnic restaurants to pub
- 1 Dolce Gelato, 15045 Marine Dr., ☏ . Hours "unpredictable". Highly regarded for delicious and authentic gelato in a wide range of flavours. Cash only. Price "not cheap, but worth it".
- 2 Kahunas Fish & Chips, 15519 Marine Drive, ☏ . The colourful, Hawai'ian vibe frames fish and chips, seafood and beer featuring local ingredients.
- 3 Little India, 15081 Marine Dr (near Martin St.). M W Th 5-9PM; F Sa Su 11:30AM-2PM, 5-9PM; Tu closed. Highly praised for the friendly host Peter, and the delicious flavours. Try the garlic naan. entrees $9-16.
- 4 Uli's Restaurant, 15021 Marine Dr, ☏ . Daily 10AM-10PM (Brunch Sa Su 10AM-4PM). On the beach for over 30 years, the euro-inspired cuisine features local ingredients and creative wine and beer pairings. Minimal vegetarian and gluten free options. entrees $15-27.
- 5 Washington Avenue Grill, #5 - 15782 Marine Dr (Between Kent and Parker Streets, south side.), ☏ , email@example.com. 11:30AM-4PM, 5PM-close. The upstairs dining room overlooks the bay. The seafood and gastropub fare is skillfully done and well served. Plentiful vegetarian options. Live music, W-Sa, is invigorating or a din, depending on your taste. lunch set menu $16-26, dinner set menu $30-40.
Off the beach
The "five corners" intersection in the main commercial district, just up the bluff from the beach, anchors the restaurant area. Many more restaurants are along or near Johnston Street as it heads north.
- 6 Dining Wok Shanghai Restaurant, 15246 Russell Ave (at George St.), ☏ . M W-F 11:30AM-2:30PM, 4PM-9PM; Sa noon-2:30PM, 4PM-9PM; Su 4PM-9PM; Tu closed. Sichuan, Shanghai, and Peking cuisine. Group menu available. Main dishes $10-15, some $20.
- 7 Leela Thai, 1310 Johnston Rd, ☏ . Lunch: M-F noon-2:30PM, Dinner: daily 5PM-10PM. A variety of chicken, pork, seafood and vegetarian Thai dishes. $10-15 per dish.
- 8 Penang Restaurant, 15228 Russell Avenue, ☏ . M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM, 4:30-9PM; Sa 4:30-9PM; Su, hols closed. Szechuan, Malaysian, and Indonesian cuisine. Takeout available. entrees $9-15.
- 9 Shin Ji Ru, 15171 Russell Ave (1 block west of Johnston St.), ☏ . Japanese restaurant with the usual sushi, sashimi, tempura, udon, etc. dishes. Reviewers indicate the meals are good value.
- 10 Taka's Take-out Sushi, 15214 Pacific, ☏ . Tu-Su 11:30AM-"late"; M closed. An unassuming but highly-regarded sushi restaurant. In addition to the usual sashimi, nigiri, maki, and appetisers, they offer "aburi" (flame-seared) sushi and "wagyu" (Japanese beef). Sashimi $10-17/5pc. Nigiri $2-$4/pc. Maki $3-13/roll. Lunch menu $9-14.
Due to White Rock's location just minutes from the Canada/USA border, it is a common place for Americans (especially those under 21) to drink.
Richmond, with its historic fishing village and Buddhist temple, is 20-30 minutes north on Highway 99. Going south on Hwy 99 will bring you to the U.S. border, with Seattle being a couple of hours south.
The Fraser Valley, with gardens, outdoor recreation and wineries is to the east.