Posted on Monday, June 18 2018
You don’t need a cottage, or the skill to pitch a tent in the woods, to enjoy the great Canadian outdoors this summer. Boasting an abundance of shorelines, stretching farther than any country in the world, combined with thousands of kilometres of lakeshores, Canada has a waterfront scene that could take lifetimes to explore. So why not slather on the sunscreen and unravel a beach towel at any one of our picks for the best Canadian beaches, from coast to coast.
Nicknamed “Little Hawaii” for very good reason, you just might be fooled into thinking you're swimming somewhere very far south from here. Features: A five-minute stroll from Tribune Bay will lead you to “downtown” Hornby Island, an eclectic community with a unique assortment of shops and services. Where: On Hornby Island, just two short ferry rides from Vancouver Island
This 16-kilometre National wonder is a year-round surfing hotspot offering breathtaking views of crashing waves, and is steeped in the history of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth First Nations. Features: Some of the most consistent surf on the planet. Where: On the West Side of Vancouver Island, about a 4-hour drive west of Victoria
A warning to the modest: Wreck Beach is Canada’s largest clothing-optional beach - near UBC campus, this beach is awash in sun worshippers and urbanites looking for a sunny reprieve. Features: Nudity! You’ll also find stairs, about 500 of them that you’ll need to descend and then scale as bookends to you visit. Where: From 4th Avenue in Vancouver, turn right on NW Marine Drive to trail 6. Chesterman Beach If you’re interested in surfing or whale watching, this is the beach for you. With 3-kilometres of white sand, it’s easy to find a comfy spot as you keep your eyes open for Orca, Humpback, Grey and Minke whales – but please be warned, it can get pretty windy! Features: Tofino’s Surf School and equipment rentals. Where: Take Pacific Rim Highway 4 to Tofino
The Okanagan Valley is home to incredible beaches, but Skaha Beach is particularly exceptional. Features: Volleyball, park, picnic areas, basketball courts, splashpads and a marina. Go in August, during Penticton’s annual Peachfest and the Sand Art Competitions. Where: Head south from Penticton on the 97.
You won’t find too many beach options in Alberta, but Sylvan lake offers 13-kilometres of shoreline that attracts those looking to enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, water sports and even scuba diving. Features: Golf, volleyball, go-carting, and camps. Where: 20-kilometres west of Red Deer on Hwy 11.
Packed with large Northern Pike, this is one of the most popular lakes in Alberta. Head out early by boat to catch lunch, and then spend the rest of the day enjoying the sandy shoreline. Features: Fish fry anyone? Where: Just one-hour east along Hwy 16. Exit at Township Road.
This bustling, sandy, oasis is the perfect place to enjoy all things water related, while a walk through the dunes just might reveal fox, deer or rabbits. Features: Fantastic camp grounds, Walleye, Northern Pike and Perch fishing, as well as golf, biking, hiking, tennis, beach volleyball and so much more. Where: Just 40-minutes Northwest from Yorktown.
Lake Winnipeg is Canada’s sixth-largest lake, and Grand Beach is a 3-kilometre stretch of silica sand, set among the rolling dunes - attracting thousands of visitors eager to soak up the sun and surf, taking breaks only to enjoy the self-guided trails. Features: This area is perfect for boardsailing, boating, volleyball, bird-watching, fishing, and strolling the boardwalk. You’ll also find some great golf nearby. Where: 1-hour north of Winnipeg on Hwy 59.
Pristine white sand beaches, sand dunes and turquoise waters...along the shores of Lake Ontario? Sandbanks Provincial Park offers 3 spectacular beaches, where Outlet beach is the most family-friendly, with shallow waters and plenty of shoreline. Features: Prince Edward County wineries, cheese mongers and restaurants. Where: Less than 30-minutes drive south from the town of Bloomfield.
A lovely alternative to the bustling downtown Toronto beaches, with soft sand and a great shoreline. Features: Playground, café, food trucks, volleyball and splashpad. It’s also just steps away from the very charming Downtown Cobourg strip, that boasts lovely boutiques, cafés and of course, ice cream. Where: From Toronto, head east along the 401 for slightly over one hour, just past Port Hope. Sauble Beach The second largest fresh water beach in the world, Sauble Beach boasts 11-kilometres of white sand, and warm, shallow water. Very family-friendly, with lots to do for teenagers and adults, like paddle-boarding, jet skiing, kite surfing and canoeing. Features: Stock car racing, and metal-detector rentals for treasure seekers. Where: Off Hwy 6, just past Owen Sound.
Also on Lake Huron, you’ll find "The Bend", packed with youthful sun worshippers strutting their stuff at the foot of Main Street, while families looking for a quieter locale gravitate south of the river mouth. Features: Busy bars, fast food, miniature golf, live theatre and tons of fun. The very popular Pinery Provincial Park has 1,000 campsites just south of the village – so be sure to book ahead. Where: Just 45-minutes from London, Ontario
If you don’t mind the possibility of losing your family, it’s definitely worth a trip to Wasaga Beach – attracting over 1 million people to it’s 8 beaches, along the fresh waters of Georgian Bay, you’ll find that beaches 1 and 2 are for the lively and social, while beaches 2 through 8 are better suited to families. Features: At 14-kilometres in length, this is the world’s longest fresh-water beach. Where: Head north along Hwy 400 out of Toronto, and exit at Hwy 26 from Barrie.
Sand lovers be warned! There’s no sand. This beautiful granite beach, where dramatic cliffs rise from the turquoise waters of Georgian Bay, more than makes up for the lack of sand with some incredibly clear water. Features: Climb the rocks for an aerial view, or strap on a scuba suit to explore the shipwrecks Where: About a 4-hours drive from downtown Toronto
Set among a spectacular chain of islands set in the middle of the St. Lawrence river, this beach plays host to the World’s Biggest Sand Castle Contest. Features: Kite-surfing, windsurfing, relaxing, and eating some amazing locally inspired seafood dishes. Lobster, Scallops and Crab anyone? Where: Ferry from Souris PEI, or take a cruise ship or flight out of Montreal
Walk along the ocean floor, in the shadows of the majestic flower-pot rocks; unique formations carved by erosion over thousands of years. During periods of low tide, you'll walk a full 2-kilometres of beach, and experience the magic the coves have on offer. Features: The highest tides in the world! In July, up to 1 million shorebirds make there only pit stop here, along their 4,000 km migration south Where: From Moncton, take route 114 to Hopewell Cape
PEI boasts over 800-kilometres of beaches, but these pristine beaches, combined with the fact that the water is welcoming at a tropical 21 degrees – it’s fantastic for the little one’s. Fun Fact: It’s called Singing Sands because the perfectly shaped quartz and silica produce a “squeaking sound” with every step. Where: From Charlottetown head NE on Hwy 2 until it turns into Hwy 16, near Souris.
Surfing? In Halifax? Ok, well a 30-minute drive out from Halifax, and apparently its worth the jaunt as this fun spot attracts not only some very impressive swells and very strong tides, but visitors, both local and international in nature. Where: Take 111 Hwy and exit at 7E. Follow the signs toward Cole Harbour.
Just one hour from Halifax, you’ll find Nova Scotia’s longest beach, boasting a 5-kilometre crescent of white sand. With summer supervised waters, golden sands, and excellent surf conditions, it’s no wonder this place is a magnet for beachcombers, surfers, paddle boarders, swimmers and picnickers. Features: Change houses, outhouses, BBQ pits, picnic tables, sand dunes and a white spruce forest. Where: From Halifax take either Hwy 107 or 207 to Musquodoboit Harbour and turn right onto East Petpeswick Road.
This unspoiled shoreline boasts white sand, turquoise waters, great hiking trails and the opportunity to catch a glimpse of some incredible wildlife. Just be safe, the shore is rocky and there is no professional supervision. Features: Seals basking on the rocks and a Piping Plover nesting area. Where: St. Catherine’s River Road, Port Joli.
Tie on those plastic bibs and head on over to Cow Head for some succulent, fresh-caught lobster. It’s also a great spot for a dip where it’s entirely possible that you won’t freeze your butt off. Features: In the fall you’ll find hundreds of migrating shorebirds, clustered on the upper beach at high-tide. Where: If you’re coming from St. John’s you’re looking at a 7-hour drive - but a fantastic opportunity to explore Gros Morne National Park - a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Both beautiful and reclusive, this is a great spot for bird watchers and nature-lovers. Features: Amazing and interesting tides. At high-tide, salt water flows up Grepesy Brook to Heron Pond, and then at low tide, the fresh water flows down the brook to the ocean. Where: Route 480.