Polar Bear swim in Sidney (Beth Rand‎ Photography)

Whether you’re in and out in ten seconds flat or you’re so tough that the ice-cold Pacific feels like bathwater, polar bear swims are a beloved staple of New Year’s Day.

Here are five swims happening on Vancouver Island:

Polar Bear Swim

This annual swim is hosted by the Otter Point Volunteer Fire Department.

  • When: Tuesday, January 1st, 11:30 a.m.
  • Where: Whiffin Spit, Sooke

Esquimalt Polar Bear Swim

This newly created annual event will have prizes, including one for the first person in the water.

Registration requires a $5 ticket, the proceeds of which will go to KidSport Greater Victoria. Or you can buy a $30 ticket and receive a commemorative shirt, hot drinks, and access to heated shelters.

  • When: Tuesday, January 1st, 11:30 a.m.
  • Where: Esquimalt Lagoon, 2903 Ocean Blvd

Sidney Annual Polar Bear Swim 

Another yearly favourite—find it via the beach access at the end of Beacon Avenue.

  • When: Tuesday, January 1st, 12 p.m.
  • Where: Glass Beach, Sidney

Polar Bear Splash

They’ll have hot chocolate to warm you up right after!

  • When: Tuesday, January 1st, 11:30 a.m.
  • Where: Parksville Beach

Polar Bear Swim

This swim is organized by the Salmon Point Restaurant and Bar.

  • When: Tuesday, January 1st, 12 p.m.
  • Where: Saratoga Beach Resort, 2158 Salmon Point Rd, Campbell River


Just can’t wait another whole year to submerge yourself in icy cold ocean water? Check out this February Polar Bear swim:

Special Olympics Vancouver Island Polar Plunge

You can participate by raising $75 (or $50 if you’re a student) to support Special Olympics BC, which also makes you eligible for commemorative swag and prizes.

  • When: Sunday, February 17th, 10 a.m. check-in
  • Where: Willows Beach, Oak Bay


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