It's Canada Day, which means that summer is finally upon us, and everyone will be looking for a great way get back, relax and enjoy that bright warm sunshine that, at least here in Canada, only greets us for a few precious months of the year. Whether it’s a fun way to beat the heat, a great way to stay in shape, or just somewhere to lounge and work on your tan, there is no better way to pass a summer afternoon than on the beach, and despite our reputation as a frozen wasteland, we Canadians know that we actually have some of the best beaches around!
Despite lacking in warm weather, let’s say, 40-60% of the year, the one thing that Canada is not lacking in is water. We have the longest coastline – nearly unbroken with the exception of Alaska – in the world, touching on three separate oceans (the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Artic), and it’s estimated that Canada has up to 2 million lakes! That’s roughly 60% of the world’s lakes, making up about 7.6% of our countries surface area. That’s a lot of water, and a lot of water also means a lot of beaches!
Whether it’s returning to an old favourite, or exploring something new, we’ve broken down a few of the greatest summer hotspots across the country. So, let’s suit up and head to the beach!
1: Wasaga Beach, Ontario
Wasaga Beach, a well-known hotspot within Southern Ontario, boasts the title of the world’s largest freshwater beach in the world. Along the coast of Nottawasaga Bay (which is an inlet of Georgian Bay, an inlet itself of Lake Huron), the 14km sandy coast is separated into 8 separate beaches; while Beach 1 & 2 are often crowded thanks to their prime location near the boardwalk, there is plenty of space for everyone the further you go. Though, word of advice, if you are on Beach 3 or 4, it might be a good idea to drive down to get your ice cream from the boardwalk. It’s a bit of a walk.
2: Parlee Beach, New Brunswick
If you’re looking for a near tropical swim, well, you might not get that anywhere here in Canada, but Parlee Beach does boast the warmest salt water north of Virginia. Located on the Northumberland Strait (About 70km north-west of Confederation Bridge) Parlee Beach is arguably the most popular beach spot to be found in New Brunswick. It’s patrolled by lifeguards from June and until Labour Day and in the past has recorded more than 400 000 visitors in a year!
3: Singing Sands, PEI
Named ‘Top Beach in Canada’ by Vacay.ca in 2013, it is no wonder that the Basin Head Beach, also called Singing Sands for the sound that is made when a person walks along it, has made it here. After all, with an island covered in magical beaches and vibrant red sand it’s difficult to ensure that you stand out, but Basin Head sure does. If you happen to make a trip down, make sure that you jump off of the bridge into the boat run that separates the two beaches, and grab your “Done the Run” shirt in the gift shop to commemorate
4: Manitou Beach, Saskatchewan
Manitou Beach, located on Little Manitou Lake is unlike any of the other “swimming holes” found on this list – in fact, it’s unlike any of the swimming holes anywhere in Canada! It is among the only salt and mineral lakes to be found in the country. High in both salt and minerals, this is the perfect place to stop by for a float – as you can’t do anything else! The high volumes of salt in the water – more than even the ocean – increases the buoyancy, making it the perfect spot for a little rest, and relaxation.
5: Kathleen Lake, Yukon
While, admittedly, you might not find yourself swimming up in the Yukon, we can’t let our list go by without acknowledging the majestic coastlines that exist in our northern regions. Also called Mät’àtäna Män, meaning “Something frozen inside the lake” or “lake captured inside” in Southern Tutchone, Kathleen Lake is located within Kluane National Park and Park Reserve and boasts an impressive shoreline, with crystal clear waters and the Kluane Mountain Range springing up around it. You may not get your soak on, but the views are well worth the trip.
6: Grand Beach, Manitoba
Located on the eastern edge of Lake Winnipeg (Canada’s 6th largest lake, and 12th largest in the world), Grand Beach is the perfect place to get away for an afternoon. It’s powdery white sand and grass topped dunes come together to make sure that it is considered, by some, to be the top beach in North America. If you time it right, you can head to their great sandcastle competition – it’s one of the best around.
7: Long Beach, British Columba
The first of our beaches to be located on the pacific oceans, Long Beach draws a million visitors each year with its wide-open stretches of both beach and ocean. The most accessible part of the part of the “Long Beach Unit”, which consists of three other beaches in Vancouver Island’s Pacific Rim Park, Long Beach is one of Canada’s top surf spots. They boast surf camps that you cannot find anywhere else in Canada, as well as the only all woman’s surfing school.
8: Iles De La Madeleine, Quebec
Located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and geographically closer to the Maritimes though part of Quebec, the Iles De La Madeleine, or Magdalen Islands in English, are a small archipelago made up of eight major islands and several smaller ones, all of which are strewn with aproximentally 300km of beach – each one as remarkable as the last. With white sand beaches created by the erosion of the islands’ red cliffs, any of the 13 beaches included on these islands are an excellent getaway of choice.
9: Wreck Beach, BC
This one’s for those who are looking to let themselves free, literally – Wreck Beach, about 15 minutes from Downtown Vancouver, is North America’s largest “Clothing Optional” beach. That’s right folks; if you’re looking to do away with those tan lines entirely this is the place for you to go. Though, something to keep in mind, there is a walk of about 500 stairs to get down to the beach proper. At least you’ll be in shape to show off that bod when you get there?
10: Lawrencetown Beach, Nova Scotia
On the complete other side of the country from Long Beach, BC, is Canada’s other surfing hotspot. Lawrencetown Beach, located in a provincial park of the same name, is a sand-and-cobble beach that is known for strong riptides, currents and big surf. You can take lessons, or rent a board to surf on your own, though keep the power of the ocean in mind. Some report that at their peak the waves can reach 4 meters. While there are lifeguards in July and August, we don’t’ really want to need them, do we?
11: Sandbanks, Ontario
Another badge for Canada’s wall, Sandbanks Provincial Park boasts the world’s largest Baymouth Barrier Dune Formation – which is essentially a dune formation that is formed on one side of a body of water, helping to create a bay. In this case, it’s Athol Bay off of Lake Ontario. With walks through remarkable Dunes, and three separate beaches to visit, Sandbanks is a stop for the entire family.
12: Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick
The Bay of Fundy is iconic in Canada for it’s high tides, and what better place to come enjoy it than at Hopewell Rocks, where you are able to walk and wade along the ocean floor among the giant flowerpot rock formations that have been worn through the constant ebb and flow of that tide. While you can walk on the ocean floor for three hours before and three hours after low tide, it is strongly recommended that you make sure you see both low and high tide. Your price of admission at the park includes two days worth of visits, and many people choose to stay through, watching the tide rise from the stairs and observation decks provided.