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Vancouver Island's San Josef Bay named one of the world's best beaches

The remote hike-in bay at the north tip of Vancouver Island is No. 36 on the World’s 50 Best Beaches list
San Josef Bay in Cape Scott Provincial Park. VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

A remote hike-in bay at the north tip of Vancouver Island has been named one of the world’s 50 best beaches.

The list, presented by sunscreen brand Banana Boat, contains plenty of spots where you’ll need to slather on the SPF 30. San Josef Bay is not one of them.

The bay in Cape Scott Provincial Park is notable more for its pristine nature and breathtaking views than for its sunbathing — though you might get a chance to catch some rays if you go during high summer. Its annual average temperature, after all, doesn’t quite top 10 C.

It is only accessible by taking a 45-minute, family-friendly hike through rugged, largely undisturbed wilderness. But the travel experts who collaborate on the list rave about its scenery and sense of being away from it all.

San Josef ranks No. 36 on the list. The top three are Lucky Bay in Australia, Anse Source D’Argent in the Seychelles and Hidden Beach in the Philippines.

The cool-climate bay is an outlier on a list of mostly tropical and subtropical sunbathing gems, but wins points (10 out of 10, in fact) for its untouched nature. Also figuring in the rankings are how swimmable it is, average annual sunshine and average daily temperature.

Those last three are why San Josef lands in the middle of the pack, as the site describes a swim in the waters off northern Vancouver Island as refreshing. “Frikkin’ freezing” would be just as accurate. And all but the summer months aren’t great for sun or warmth, either.

But it’s probably the only one on the list where you might randomly spot bears and wolves.

The 2023 best beaches list is a collaboration with over 750 world travel influencers and professionals, and is strictly based on votes from its “beach ambassadors,” a group of much-followed travellers, plus hundreds of social media influencers, journalists, editors and agents.

“The list is uniquely defined by the firsthand experiences and careers of the industry’s top professionals, making it the most trustworthy and accurate list of the world’s best beaches ever created,” says Brianna Bostick, a Banana Boat spokesperson.

World’s 50 Best Beaches co-founder Tine Holst notes the list is designed to find hidden gems that might otherwise be overlooked by travellers — San Josef Bay definitely qualifies there — rather than well-established, better-known spots.

San Josef Bay is the only beach in Canada to make the 2023 top-50 list.