Saturday, June 22, 2024

10 places to polar bear swim in Greater Victoria to start the new year fresh


It’s that time of year again. 

Time to clean up the holiday decorations and start planning for a new year ahead! 

And there’s no better, more invigorating way to start 2023 fresh than with an icy polar bear swim on New Year’s Day to get your heart rate up as you dive deep into the ice cold pacific ocean.

Every year, hundreds of eager swimmers meet at beaches across Vancouver Island to dive into the icy cold waters marking a fresh start to the new year.

Here are 10 places on Vancouver Island where you can make the plunge this January 1st:

Cold Water Addicts

This year Cold Water Addicts invited you to attend the 90th Sunday Adventure at one of our

With this being the first polar swim of the new year, participants are asked to wear appropriate New Year attire aka new years hats, dresses, umbrella hats, and bring party blowers, etc.

This is weather permitting, but CWA members will swim in rain, sleet, hail and snow.

  • Where: Cold Water Addicts, Willows Beach
  • When: January 1st, 2023, 11 a.m. arrival, 12 p.m. swim

Polar Bear Swim – Peninsula Celebrations Society

Join fellow hardy islanders and enjoy an invigorating start to the new year with a polar bear swim. 

You’ll find this crazy crowd through the beach access at the end of Beacon Avenue at Glass Beach.

  • Where: Beacon Avenue at Glass Beach in Sidney
  • When: January 1st, 2023, 12 p.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Whiffin Spit Polar Bear Swim ​​

The Otter Point Volunteer Fire Department hosts their annual Polar Bear Swim at Whiffin Spit. Registration starts at 11:30 a.m. with a cannon start at noon!

  • When: Saturday, January 1st, 11:30 a.m. registration. 12 p.m. swim
  • Where: Whiffin Spit, Sooke

Rather take a plunge without a crowd? Below are places you can take the new year tradition on your own time: 

Esquimalt’s Lagoon beach

If you can’t stand the cold, but you want to participate in the tradition, Esquimalt lagoon is the ideal place to pull over, dive into the water and then run right back in your vehicle. 

  • Where: Esquimalt Lagoon, Colwood

Whiffen Spit park

For a private polar dip, Whiffen Spit park is a great option to unleash your dog and run in with a few friends! 

  • Where: Whiffen Spit park, Sooke

Thetis Lake

Considered one of the most visited regional parks in Greater Victoria, Thetis lake is one of the largest regional parks which is home to well over 40 kilometres of recreational trails.

The beach area of Thetis Lake is perfect for a family picnic or a refreshing swim. The main beach features public restrooms and change rooms. A designated dog beach along the north side of the lake is perfect for our four-legged friends. 

  • Where: Thetis Lake, View Royal

Durrance Lake

Located in the Mount Work Regional Park area, Durrance Lake is a popular swimming hole in the summer months and a fishing lake throughout the year.

  • Where: Durrance Lake, Mount Work Regional Park

Prospect Lake

Much of the lakeside property has been claimed by private residences but there are four public access points to the lake which include: Whitehead Park, Estelline Park, South Prospect Lake Park, Echo Place Boat Launch

  • Where: Prospect Lake, Saanich

Eagles Lake 

Eagles Lake is a secluded little swimming hole located off Woodridge Place Road and is a popular cooling off spot for Highlands locals.

  • Where: Eagles Lake, Woodridge Place

Elk Lake

If you’ve driven between Victoria and the ferries, you’re familiar with Elk Lake. It lays just to the west of the Patricia Bay Hwy and is often one of the first impressions visitors from the mainland receive when visiting the island for the first time.

  • Where: Elk Lake, Patricia Bay Highway 17 in Saanich

Do you know of another polar bear swim happening in your area? Send us an email to to be included on our list!

Read more

Latest Stories