Canada is famous for it’s rugged wilderness and cosmopolitan cities, but did you know that this most versatile of locations also offers some pretty spectacular beaches? I have taken the arduous task of visiting as many as possible, spread over a few holidays to Canada – and listed below are 10 of my favourites.
- Grand Bend, Ontario
Watching the spectacular sunsets cascade over the thirty miles of Lake Hurron shoreline was magical to me. Popular with visitors of all ages since the 1800s, the beach south of the river mouth is ideal for families, but being a young adult, I found the buzz at the foot of Main Street to be the most fun. This beautiful entertaining spot offers its visitors everything from funky bars to live theatre.
- Grand Beach, Manitoba
Nestled on the shore of Lake Winnipeg, the 6th largest lake in Canada, are the silky fine white sands of Grand Beach, complete with dunes reaching up to 12 metres high. When I visited this stunning beach in 2012, it was awarded the internationally recognized blue flag status for ‘extraordinary and safe beaches’. And I did feel extremely safe here!
- Parlee Beach, New Brunswick
Parlee Beach in New Brunswick is the most popular one of the 50 beaches that this province has to offer. I took the opportunity to find my inner chi with an 8am yoga class (which are held on Mondays and Wednesdays). The sun rising on this part of the beach is an unforgettable sight. There are about 190 campsites in the area and as a backpacker it is pretty easy to make new friends. Playing different kinds of sports, like Volleyball and football are very popular at this beach and after working up a sweat you can easily take a dip in the crystal clear water. The town of Shediac, close to Parlee Beach is home to the world’s largest lobster sculpture – Stop and have your picture taken with it!
- Singing Sands, Basin Head provincial park, Prince Edward Island (P.E.I)
These pure white sands get their name from the phenomena of the singing (or squeaking noise) made as you walk through it. This is due to its high silica content which is geologically unique to the area. The Basin Head Park is a picturesque place to visit with the whole family and the water is wonderfully warm during the summer month.
- Havre-Aubert Beach, Iles de la Madeleine, Quebec
I visited this beach during August so was able to watch the biggest sand castle competition in the world! I entered, but sure enough I didn’t win (don’t think I got even close!!!), but at Havre-Aubert Beach it is all about taking part. This bohemian beauty spot is bustling with galleries, studios and sand artisans. The shoreline breeze made this a great place to practise windsurfing and I even had a go at kite surfing! I arrived by ferry (which runs daily) from Souris, P.E.I but the islands can also be reached by plane or cruise ship from Montreal.
- Bennett Beach, Yukon
I thought that this beach was simply breath-taking – soft white sands and panoramic snow-capped mountains in the background. You’ll find Bennet Beach in the historic village of Carcross, which home to some of the oldest buildings in the Yukon. And only 2 km away you will find Carcross Desert, which according to Guinness World Records, is the ‘World’s smallest Desert’ – A true Canadian Wonderland!
- Wasaga Beach, Ontario
When I heard that this was the world’s longest freshwater beach, I knew I had to come and visit this southern coast bay. As well as the usual swimming, sunbathing and water sports, this beach is home to annual classic car shows, BeachFest and KiteFest. If that all sounds too lively, don’t forget there are 8 beach areas to choose from, enjoy finding your favourite!
- Manitou Beach, Saskatchewan
The salt water in Little Manitou Lake is so buoyant you can lay back and read a book- try it! The 3 beaches offer changing rooms and a children’s playground. I ventured to the neighbouring village and enjoyed the mineral spa. In the evening, the drive in movie theatre is always a good bet, and it is definitely worth visiting the apparently floating dance floor made of horsehair in the local dance hall!
- Long beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia
At over 16km, this stunning beach is the longest sandy beach on the island. Perfectly framed by the rainforest and mountains in the background its little wonder that this area of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is on my list. As well as providing a beautiful backdrop for enjoying the sunshine, Long beach is also perfect for adventurers offering surf lessons, kayaking and a Torofino beach bus. I was also lucky enough to spot some of the 20,000 grey whales that migrate to this spot every spring and summer!
- Martinique Beach, Nova Scotia
I came across this surfer’s paradise whilst visiting Halifax, which is just an hour away. It is actually the longest beach in Nova Scotia and is geared up to cater for all watersports, even providing change houses along the golden sands. The best part for me, were the BBQ pits – what could be better than sun sand and sausages! A great socialising spot for friends, and the neighbouring Provincial Park is a refuge for the endangered Piper Plover bird.
So that’s it – my most favourite beach spots in Canada. Don’t forget to comment on your favourites and make your own recommendations. After all, Canada is the 2nd largest country in the world, so there is sure to be even more hidden treasures out there – happy exploring!