The Canadian summer is short. And one of the things I like to do is to go to the beaches, which here are on the lakes.
So I decided to plan my trip at the end of August when it’s summer. I found many people on the beaches. But it was worth observing the structure and evaluating the style of each one. I also checked other rankings beaches in Ontario, as well as lots of photos and videos, to make an even more reliable list.
And as I’m always getting questions about which beaches I recommend in Ontario, I decided to gather my favorites in a post. Of course, these aren’t the only options, but they’re the ones I found interesting. So, here is my list of 15 top beaches in Ontario.
I spent the morning of my first day on the beach at Bluffer’s Park, which is adjacent to Scarborough Bluffs. In my opinion, this is one of the best beaches in Ontario because the landscape is very different from the rest. I also love the fact that it’s kind of hidden. The water is very calm, there are hardly any waves, and the ground is not slimy, it is pure sand.
There are no cars, no buildings around, just the sound of water, wind, and people on the beach. Sitting there in front of the lake, surrounded by greenery, gave me a lot of peace of mind.
Initially, I had planned to visit this beach during the weekend, but I was advised that it would be too messy for my taste, and finding parking is a headache. Another advantage is that from Monday to Friday you do not pay for parking. But I don’t recommend going by bus as it will be a long walk.
2. Hanlan's Point Beach, Toronto
During the afternoon, I visited Hanlan’s Point beach, located in the Toronto Islands. This beach of fine sand is extensive and has a peculiarity: on the southern part of the beach, clothing is optional. As the only nude beach in Toronto and one of only two in Canada, it is often crowded in the summer. Even in spring, when the cold starts to arrive, don’t be surprised if you pass by and see someone naked on the beach.
The water quality is good, being classified as a “blue flag.” I stayed here for about 3 hours and took advantage of the beach not only to cool off, but also to take a chance on the Stand-Up Paddle. You have to enjoy these summer sports, right. I only fell once, so the result was positive. After the fun, I took a 5 min drive to InterContinental Toronto Centre, where I spent my night.
3. Cobourg Beach, Cobourg
I took advantage of my second day to visit Cobourg, just 1-hour drive from my hotel. My goal was to get to know the beach, which is reputed to be one of the best beaches in Ontario for families. Despite being small, the city is well organized, and the infrastructure is not lacking! The beach has a wide stretch of sand, calm, shallow water, and a boardwalk that connects with a park and marina. There is a little algae on the edge, but then the ground is light sand.
In addition, there are two playgrounds, two areas with fountains, bathrooms, and a snack bar. There are also exclusive trails and bike trails in several places I have passed.
4. Wasaga Beach, Wasaga
Wasaga Beach is a lake beach located in southern Georgian Bay, north of the town of Barrie. It’s a very popular destination in the summer and can be easily visited from Toronto.
It is considered one of the largest lake beaches in the world as it has a 14km stretch of sand. It’s a great place to spend the day with or without children. The water is very calm, shallow, and has a pleasant temperature for swimming. It is not super cold like other beaches in Ontario.
For me, the only downside of Wasaga is that in some areas, there is a kind of mud, or slime, at the water’s edge. It’s not dirt. It’s a lake thing. Usually in the main part, right in front of the restaurants, there is not much, but if you move away from this area, there is a lot.
5. Port Dover Beach, Norfolk
I think the last thing a person expects to see on a Canadian lake beach is a palm tree. But a restaurant owner in Port Dover decided to innovate and created a tropical landscape in front of his deck. The night before coming here, I was reading the newspaper, and they talked about this beach, and of course, I was dying to go. I immediately thought of the little noise they make when the wind shakes the palm leaves.
Arriving in Port Dover, I immediately felt that beach vibe. It has a tropical feel, not only because of the palm trees, but also because of the warm (that is, less cold) water of Lake Erie and because the restaurant’s deck is practically on the beach.
The sand strip is not very wide. So my suggestion is to get there early to ensure a nice spot, the closest part of the pier has some green slime on the edge. The strip of beach in front of the palm trees is the best and most disputed, for obvious reasons. Definitely, this is one of the beaches in Ontario you have to visit.
6. Crystal Beach, Fort Erie
This is one of the beaches in Ontario that also impressed me. It is located on Lake Erie, which has a much nicer water temperature. The color of water and sand gives you the feeling of having traveled to a tropical country.
Crystal Beach is so beautiful and sought after that it even had an amusement park working on the waterfront. A curious fact is that the Ferris wheel that once operated here is now on the central island of Toronto. Today, the fun is on the beach, water sports, shops, or the patio of one of the restaurants in the region. Crystal Beach is great for those with children.
Picnics are allowed, but animals, alcoholic beverages, or barbecues are not allowed. Crystal Beach is a public beach, but there are some areas around it that are closed to the public. The bad thing is that in 2019 they started charging $5 for tickets for everyone over ten years old.
7. Outlet Beach, Prince Edward
First, let me say that Sandbanks Provincial Park has three beaches suitable for swimming and I visited two of them (Outlet and Dunes Beach). The only one I couldn’t go was on Sandbanks Beach, which is closed because part of the access and parking are still flooded.
So I decided to start with Outlet beach. This is the most popular beach in the park. It is bordered by Lake Ontario but is located in a small bay. Of the two I visited, this was the one I liked the most because the water was very calm and shallow.
The strip of sand was reduced because of the level of the lake, but even so, I found it wide in some points. The beach is divided in two by the river Outlet, and there is an exclusive area for those with dogs.
At Outlet Beach, the dunes are almost completely covered with vegetation and are not that high. Near the main entrance to the beach, there is a snack bar that serves breakfast, ice cream, pizza, and other fast food. It’s right next door to the Park Store, Sandbanks’ convenience store.
8. Dunes Beach, Prince Edward
My next stop was at Dunes beach, still located within Sandbank Provincial Park. At the moment, this beach is practically without a strip of sand. But most people prefer to go to the other side, where the dunes are, crossing a small path.
The water is not as cold as at Outlet Beach, but on the other hand, it is quite deep, just a few meters from the shore. Maybe if the lake wasn’t so full, it would be different. The dunes here are bigger, and it is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful Ontario beaches.
There is a snack bar with a patio right in front of the beach and even a playground for the children, which I ended up not taking a picture of.
9. Elora Quarry, Elora
You don’t have to go far from Toronto to discover unusual places like Elora, the city I visited on my last weekend in Toronto. It is just 115km from Toronto and has a very different landscape, with a canyon and natural pool.
This park is on the border between the cities of Elora and Fergus, inside it, there is a huge natural pool with turquoise blue water. In fact, the site is an old limestone mine that, after being abandoned, became what the locals call an old swimming hole.
Next to the main parking lot, there is a fence, and the first view I had was breathtaking. To get to the “beach,” I walked about 200-300 meters in a super-easy way, it’s more like a park inside the city than a trail.
On the beach, the strip of sand is small, squeezed between the river and the swimming pool, so it’s good to get there early to find a nice spot near the water. There are some picnic tables dotted around, but they are closer to the river. I brought my chair, umbrella, and snacks. There is nothing to buy on this beach.
The water is cold, like any lake here. It gives that thermal shock when you put your feet in the water, but then the body gets used to it. At the edge, it is shallow and allows children to play. Then it gets super deep, and you have to be very careful. Many people take buoys and float in the middle of the beach. There are no lifeguards on duty, just park employees checking that no one is jumping off the rocks into the water (but people jump anyway).
10. Port Stanley Beach, Port Stanley
Ontario has plenty of cool lake beaches, but few are as good as Port Stanley. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful beaches in Ontario I have been to. It is on the north bank of Erie, and as I said before here on the blog, the water in this lake is very pleasant for swimming compared to others.
I did this tour one afternoon during the week and took advantage of the beach, which has a super-wide strip of sand and is shallow, ideal for children. Along the shore, there are super charming houses, some are even available for rent in the summer. The place has a great infrastructure, with ample parking, restrooms, a playground, and several restaurants
11. Turkey Point Beach, Turkey Point
Turkey Point is totally off the radar and doesn’t have much infrastructure, yet I thought it was cool to include it on this list of best beaches in Ontario because of the tranquility of the place. It sits on Lake Erie and is part of Turkey Point Provincial Park. The water is very calm, and the sand is fine. The beach has a very well-developed beach infrastructure, and there is everything you need for a comfortable stay.
Nearby there is a winery called Burning Kiln, and I recommend combining the two tours.
12. Sauble Beach, Simcoe
Sauble Beach, located in the town of Simcoe at the southern end of Georgian Bay, Ontario. It is not only the second-longest freshwater beach in the world, but also the best white sand beach in Ontario to enjoy the sunset. The 11-kilometer-long golden beach is accompanied by the sunset, which is suitable for walking on the sand and watching the waves with your loved one.
The coastal strip of this beach serves not only as a resting place for townspeople on the shore, but also as a kind of meeting place. Here you can play volleyball, frisbee, or just sit comfortably in the shade of trees.
13. Grand Bend Beach, Grand Bend
Grand Bend Beach is a city beach located in the city of Grand Bend. This beach is free, but despite this, it has everything you need to relax. There are volleyball courts on it, where competitions for amateurs are often held. I loved that this beach is equipped with parking, sun loungers, umbrellas, buoys, there is a coast guard, and a beach disco.
There is a yacht club in this area, which uses a small old marina and a lighthouse located nearby. And for more energetic tourists there is an opportunity to rent a jet ski. The proximity to the residential area means that the beach is densely packed with visitors.
14. Pleasant Beach, Port Colborne
Described as “lovely” or “incredible,” Pleasant Beach flanks the shores of Lake Erie, the smallest of Canada’s Great Lakes. Strong winds often blow on the lake. Therefore, in spite of all its attractiveness, Pleasant is not always crowded with people, making it one of the best Ontario beaches to enjoy yourself alone. The peak of resort activity is observed here in July and August.
Of course, the beach is very impressive: the wide strip of clean white sand, surrounded by the waves of the lake, is literally mesmerizing. The most popular activities in this area are kites and windsurfing. There are also cafes and bars around the beach.
15. Port Burwell Beach, Port Burwell
Who said a last-minute planned outing isn’t good? I was looking, with no luck, for a place to camp for a night. But the day before my last night in Ontario, I looked, and there was a spot in Port Burwell Provincial Park.
I booked without knowing anything about the place, and I headed south. The park is adjacent to the town of the same name, on the shores of Lake Erie. The region is completely off the tourist trail and ideal for those looking for a quiet lake beach with non-freezing water.
The park is small and old but very cozy. It is divided into two areas, one for camping and one for those who are just going to spend the day at the beach or have a picnic. The campground has three zones, I stayed in the middle one, called Leander Campground, and I got lucky because it was close to the amphitheater.
Unlike other beach lakes, the water here is not cold. However, I’m not saying the water is hot, but it doesn’t freeze the soul when you go in either. It’s very nice! For this reason, the beaches of Erie are well sought after and are crowded.
These are some of the best beaches in Ontario that I recommend. However, I have to point out that Ontario beaches have no one selling snacks on the sand or renting chairs with umbrellas. So you need to go prepared with everything you will need.