Beaches & Sand Play in Ontario
By Shari & Elisa Thursday, July 27, 2017
While Ontarians like to go to Southern climes in search of beaches, many don’t know that we have some pretty awesome beaches right here at home. What’s particularly nice about our beaches is that many of them have attained (or are candidates for) Blue Flag Status, which is an international eco-label awarded to beaches that meet specified standards for water quality, environmental management/ education, safety & services. Beaches are like any other attraction; they each have their own personality, attractions, sand type and people, so make the rounds and find your faves!
When people talk about Toronto, they mention its skyline, restaurants, etc, and not its beaches but it has a surprising number of them along the Lake Ontario coastline. Beaches range from busy active ones like Woodbine Beach, to clothing optional (Hanlan) to Sugar Beach’s urban beach park with candy coloured umbrellas & Muskoka chairs. Eight of Toronto’s beaches were Blue Flag status last year, and some also have pools nearby.
Elgin County & Goderich Beaches
Great for a day trip or family holiday, both these beautiful shorelines are famous for their blue flag beaches and stunning scenery. Easily accessible from Kitchener, Hamilton, Burlington, London, Toronto etc., Elgin County’s picturesque towns & sandy beaches are on the shores of Lake Erie while Goderich’s charm, stunning beaches & walking trails are just north of there on the shores of Lake Huron. Both areas also feature culture, history and great food!
Sandbanks Provincial Park in Prince Edward County, SW of Picton, makes the record books – it has the largest freshwater sand dunes in the world! If you are looking for sand, you’re going to find a LOT of it here! You’ll also find 3 sandy beaches that some say are among the best in Canada, incredible bird watching due to the bird migration hotspot in spring and fall, walking trails and more! Note that this is a REALLY popular place; so much so that in 2016, the park installed road signs to let you know if the park is full, so come early. NOTE: due to high water levels, the dunes are accessible but much of the beach is under water – check their website for updates.
Northumberland & Cobourg areas
Northumberland east of Toronto, is surrounded by Lake Ontario, Rice Lake & the Trent River & features sandy beaches, warm lakes & rivers. Enjoy the white sand beaches of Cobourg and don’t miss their annual Sandcastle Festival – Aug 5, 2017, with its sand masterpieces. Visit the beautiful beaches & Waterfront Trail of Port Hope or wiggle your toes in the soft sand at Presqu’ile Provincial Park, near the town of Brighton, another great spot with a cool island character, 800 km of coastline and a shipwreck perfect for scuba divers.
Lake Superior area
Lake Superior, or Gi chi Gamiing (“Great Lake”) to the Ojibwa, is the world’s largest freshwater lake & the Great Lakes’ deepest. While the waters can be very cold, people still flock to beaches at Agawa Bay Campground, Katherine Cove & Old Woman Bay. At Katherine Cove, look for Bathtub Island, a shallow tub of water made of an enclosure of rocks in the lake, which warms up in the summer, although you get to it by walking out in waters which are significantly colder! Warm up on its fine sand beaches after.
Ontario boasts more than 250,000 lakes that make up about one-fifth of the world’s fresh water. Pretty impressive! And luckily, many of those lakes have beautiful beaches for us to enjoy. Tell us what beaches you love or if you find any new ones that we should check out. Thanks.