We would like to say, of heavy importance – please don’t crowd the beaches. If the beach is full (which is already too much), go home, go find something else to do, it’s not your beach day. Try again another time. It’s a challenging time to enjoy a limited resource and we need to respect that. Looking for a way to have a private beach? Read this blog about Where to Find a Private Beach in Ontario.
This note being said, please check ahead for any beach closures before heading out. Stay safe, stay covered, stay spf’d, stay distanced. Thank you.
Top Beaches in Ontario, by Region
Attention, all of you sun-worshipping water babies: these are our picks for the top beaches in Ontario.
Disclaimer: Ontario has many, many, MANY outstanding beaches. We know yours might not have made our list. It doesn’t mean your favourite beach isn’t awesome – it is! Believe us, it was HARD selecting our top picks for the best beaches in Ontario (hey, it’s a tough job, but we’re happy to do it!).
So what criteria did we use to select our favourite beaches? Amenities, ease of parking, clear swimmable water, accessibility for paddlers, nearby attractions and overall beauty were our top considerations.
Here are our top picks for Ontario beaches, by region:
If you’re looking to recreate the experience of visiting the tropics, head over Port Dover Beach to lounge by the palm trees. Yes, you read that correctly – palm trees! Each year, 15ft palms are planted and grow happily outdoors for five months (when the summer season is over, the palm trees are transported to spend winter in a greenhouse). Lake Erie is the second-smallest of the Great Lakes, and its shallow waters are warm and inviting. Anglers can fish off the pier or charter a boat and head out on the open waters. The town of Port Dover itself is as charming as it gets. Just be mindful of visiting on a Friday the 13th: this town is known for hosting large biker rallies on that conspicuous date.
Southwest Ontario Tourism
Sunset Beach in St. Catherines is a peaceful spot, situated on the southern shore of Lake Ontario. The 1200 ft beach is sandy and well-groomed, an inviting spot for swimmers, sunbathers and paddlers alike. There’s a playground for kids, paved trails for bikes and rollerblades, a boat launch, picnic area and public washrooms. Sunset Beach is also close to the Welland Canals Parkway Trail, a 45 km paved trail that is ideal for cycling.
Hamilton, Halton and Brant
The wee town of Winona is home to the Fifty Point Conservation Area, a massive, eighty-hectare park loaded with activities and amenities for nature lovers. The beach is clean and warm, making it an ideal spot for swimming. There are 340 docking spaces for boats, making this a great location for anglers. The surrounding parkland is known as a “hotspot” for birding, so bring your binoculars with you. Pack a lunch and come for the day or, if you’d like a longer stay, reserve one of their well-serviced, accessible campsites.
Hamilton, Halton & Brant Tourism
Huron, Perth, Waterloo & Wellington
In a region best known for farmland, the only beaches to be found here are on the shores of Lake Huron, and most of those are rocky. There is, however, a treasure of a sandy beach at Point Clark. Aside from blue waters and sand, one of the cardinal traits about this site is the Point Clark Lighthouse and Museum. Climb the 114 steps of the limestone lighthouse (built in the 1850s) and take in the spectacular view! The beach itself also has a large boat launch for those hoping to spend some time in nearby open waters.
Huron, Perth, Waterloo & Wellington Tourism
Stuck in the city this summer? No worries, you can still have the sun and swim time you crave at Toronto’s Cherry Beach. Here you’ll find a surprising beach oasis in the city, with swimmable waters, a food truck and a great, big dog park if you’d like to bring your furry four-legged friend. You don’t need to bring your car, either! Cherry Beach is accessible by TTC (take the 121 bus from Union Station).
York, Durham and Headwaters
Sibbald Point Beach juts out into the waters of Lake Simcoe and is just a short, one-hour drive from Toronto. Here you’ll find many a family out for a day trip to splish-splash in the shallow, warm lake. Sibbald Point is another of Ontario’s provincial parks, which means it’s equipped with the usual amenities for changing, washrooms, and facilities for campers. When you’re ready for a break from the beach, explore the park’s museum (it was the original Sibbald Estate home), historic cabin, an 1870s Anglican church and churchyard, where you’ll find the resting place of famed Canadian author, Stephen Leacock.
York, Durham & Headwaters Tourism
Okay, this was a tough toss-up between Tobermory and Sauble – both are outstanding choices for a day at the beach. However, for us, the scales tipped in favour of Sauble Beach. The 11+ km of public beach is soft and sandy, and the shores of Lake Huron are warm and shallow, making it a perfect spot for families seeking fun by the water. One of our favourite features: Sauble Beach is westward-facing, so the views of summer sunsets are quite spectacular. There’s plenty of other activities to be had too if you’d like to mix up your beach day with some golf, hiking or shopping.
Southern Georgian Bay
Can we call this one a tie? Because we really can’t choose between the following two candidates:
Wasaga Beach is, reportedly, the longest freshwater beach in the world. Wasaga is a non-stop beach party; this is a community built for summer fun. There’s a colourful, touristy boardwalk filled with beach apparel, concession stands, bars and restaurants. If you’re looking to live out your full Frankie-and-Annette beach party dream, this is the right spot for you.
Alternately, if you’re looking for a beach experience that connects you to nature, we can’t think of a better spot than Awenda Provincial Park. Awenda – the second-largest provincial park in Ontario – has five beautiful mixed sand/stone beaches to for swimming and sun-worshipping. The drive into the park through protected forest is astonishingly beautiful, and there’s plenty of woods for hiking for those looking to commune with nature. There are campsites at Awenda for those of you who’d like more than a one-day getaway, but book early – spots fill up quickly.
Lake Simcoe – Couchiching Beach Park
Couchiching Beach Park is an excellent place for families to play for the day. Here you’ll find a playground, picnic areas, gardens, a boat launch, and washrooms/changing facilities. Couchiching Beach Park is home to many summer events, and you’ll often catch live music playing in the bandshell. When you visit, bring your bike or roller blades – there’s an excellent paved trail along the waterfront.
It’s a hard call, but we’re going to put our money on Coburg Beach as our top pick for the Kawarthas Northumberland region. A beautiful, well-groomed beach and amenities include a splash pad for kids, canteen, picnic area and basketball court. If you can, try and visit during the first weekend in August when the annual Coburg Beach Sandcastle Contest takes place. This is when master artists descend on the beach to create some pretty remarkable sand sculptures (bring your camera!).
Kawartha Northumberland Tourism
The largest sand beach on the St. Lawrence Corridor is beautiful and has a spooky twist. Milles Roches Beach is on the largest of eleven islands on the St. Lawrence River, but the islands are – wait for it – the tops of underwater ghost towns! In the 1950s, ten communities were permanently submerged to create the St. Lawrence Seaway. Around 6500 people were displaced as a result of the intentional flooding. Today, this area of the St. Lawrence is popular with scuba divers who explore the remains of the underwater ghost towns. For those who’d prefer a more traditional beach experience, Milles Roches Beach is surrounded by a canopy of trees, and is popular with swimmers and water sports lovers alike.
Southeastern Ontario Tourism
Ottawa and Countryside
Alas, the Ottawa area isn’t well known as beach territory, but we do have an excellent suggestion for a secluded swimming hole. The pond at the Caldwell-Carver Conservation Area is very private, and made from what was a gravel and sand pit in the 1940s. Today, this little swimmer’s oasis sits nestled in among the trees. Head’s up: this is a quiet area with several restrictions (no dogs, no bikes, no noise), so this spot is best intended for those looking for a serene swim.
Ottawa & Countryside Tourism
Haliburton Highlands to the Ottawa Valley
It is, perhaps, a bit overshadowed by the giant that is Algonquin Provincial Park, but nearby Bonnechere Provincial Park is a gem all on its own. Happily, this soft, sandy beach on Round Lake recently had an accessibility upgrade in the form of a wheelchair-friendly path from the park to the beach, and floating wheelchairs are available to sign out. The water is shallow, making it kid-friendly, but please note there are no lifeguards on site. If you’re bringing a 4-legged friend, they are allowed to doggy-paddle off of the boat launch.
Haliburton Highlands to Ottawa Valley Tourism
Algonquin Park, Almaguin Highlands, Muskoka and Parry Sound
Sorry, we just can’t commit to one “best” beach in this region. I mean, this so isn’t fair. How do you even pick in an area scattered with lakes and 100’s of kilometres of Georgian Bay shore? You can’t swing a stick in this part of Ontario without hitting a beautiful beach! Whether you’re visiting the aforementioned giant Algonquin Provincial Park or one of the many small cottage country towns (Gravenhurst, Honey Harbour, Parry Sound, Bala, Bracebridge to name a few) you will have ample options for beach fun.
Algonquin Park, Almaquin Highlands & Muskoka Tourism
The clean, fresh waters of Lake Nippissing are one of our personal faves, and can be enjoyed by anyone with a visit to Marathon Beach, North Bay. This small Ontario city has happily maintained its public, downtown beachfront. There’s a government dock for launching your watercraft and if you don’t have a boat to paddle, no worries – kayak rental is available. Surrounding the water, you’ll find a paved path for cyclists, beautifully maintained gardens, a playground and ice cream stand. Sounds like the makings for a perfect summer day, doesn’t it?
Northern Ontario Tourism
Sault-Ste.-Marie and Algoma
North of “the Soo” you’ll find Pancake Bay Provincial Park, another gem of protected, natural beauty in Ontario. The sandy beach at Pancake Bay is 3 km long and is met by the crystal blue waters of Lake Superior. As with other Ontario provincial parks, there are amenities for camping (RVs welcome, yurt rentals are available), great trails for hiking and birding, and a lake full of trout for anglers. While you’re there, check out the Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout and take in the view of the spot where that famous ship met its fate back in 1975, inspiring the now legendary song by Gordon Lightfoot.
Northern Ontario Tourism
Chippewa Park Beach, beautiful, sandy beach, a view of the legendary Sleeping Giant, areas for volleyball and baseball, and amusement park rides are just a few of the features that catapulted Chippewa Park Beach to the top of our list. There are concession vendors for hungry day-trippers, or bring a picnic and eat in the park. One great perk: Chippewa Park Beach has lifeguards on duty during the summer months for extra peace-of-mind when swimming in Lake Superior.
Northern Ontario Tourism
Remember if you head out to a beach this summer to be courteous and stay safe. Keep social distancing and our favourite rules of thumb “Take only pictures and leave only footprints”. It’s just that easy.