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Ontario's best beaches

Toronto’s Sugar Beach

Ontario's best beaches

Here's a locals' secret: Ontario has dazzling beaches. Bordered by Hudson Bay to the north, and the Great Lakes to the south, this province is filled with clear-water lakes. Some have white limestone cliffs and cerulean blue waters that make you think you're in the Caribbean, many with long, sandy stretches of shore. You'll want to bring your towel, picnic basket, and water sports gear, perhaps rent a boat, or take a windsurfing lesson. If you want to swim, look for the Blue FlagExternal Link Title certification, which means the water is the highest quality and accessible, plus eco-friendly. Get to know some of Ontario's very best beachesExternal Link Title.

Bruce Peninsula National Park: The Grotto and Georgian Bay

Stunning isn't an overstatement when it Georgian Bay on Lake Huron. It's in Bruce Peninsula National ParkExternal Link Title, not too far from Toronto on the Niagara Escarpment. First, there's the dramatic blue-green water contrasted by white cliffs that may have resembled Australia's Great Barrier Reef eons ago. Then there's the GrottoExternal Link Title, a craggy, wave-carved cave and fantasy-worthy swimming hole near the park entrance. Make it a day trip with a 45-minute hike past wetlands, 40 orchid species, ferns, ancient, gnarled cedars, and spectacular views to the limestone caves. Take a dip, picnic, go boulderingExternal Link Title, and return for a magenta-sky sunset. Or stay longer and go yurt campingExternal Link Title. While July and August are the best swimming months, visit in spring or fall to have this magical spot -- a UNESCO World Biosphere ReserveExternal Link Title -- more to yourself. If swimming and play is on your agenda, head to Singing Sands BeachExternal Link Title on the west side.

Toronto: Sugar Beach

Even though it's Canada's largest metropolis, Toronto on Lake Ontario has gorgeous shorelines right in the city. Take industrial-chic Sugar BeachExternal Link Title in East Bayfront for example. It's a beach park named for the sugar refinery across the street and its clever design incorporates the area's heritage with whimsy and playfulness. Locals love the white sand, cheery cotton candy-hued umbrellas, and big views of the harbor and downtown skyline. The park includes lots of leafy trees and grassy knolls, ideal for picnicking or reading a book. Cool your feet in the series of mini geysers, a water feature spurting from a granite maple leaf that lights up pink after dark, lounge on the shore, and watch the sun melt over the skyscrapers. For August's annual Sail-In CinemaExternal Link Title, locals boat in to watch free movies on a huge, dual-sided inflatable screen. If you want to swim, sail, or play in the water, head instead to long, sandy Bluffer's BeachExternal Link Title.

Prince Edward County: Sandbanks Provincial Park

It's all about the dunes here. The waterfront may be beautiful, but people love the expanses of golden dunes at Sandbanks Provincial ParkExternal Link Title -- the world's largest assemblage of baymouth dunes. This park has three vast sandy beaches, often ranked some of the top in Canada. Choose Outlet BeachExternal Link Title, near the main entrance, for its stretches of shore and shallow water that feels a lot like Florida. Bird watching is amazing here, too, in both spring and fall. Get into windsurfing, sailing, or bodysurfing, or hike one of many trailsExternal Link Title meandering through the dunes, and campExternal Link Title to extend your stay. As a bonus, Sandbanks is located in rural Prince Edward County, Ontario's celebrated food and wine destination.

Cobourg: Cobourg Beach

If a beach escape from Toronto is in the cards, consider Cobourg BeachExternal Link Title, billed as the best sun and sand destination within easy reach of the city -- a great day tripExternal Link Title. The soft sand is pristine and the beach is huge. A fun spot in summer, favorites include the annual Sandcastle FestivalExternal Link Title's artsy creations and the snack bar hot dogs. Walk to nearby Victoria Park for a picnic on the grass or to the charming, historic town for lunch or dinnerExternal Link Title. The beach is 1.5 hours from Toronto, near Port Hope.

Lake Erie: Port Dover Beach

In summer, palm trees line Port DoverExternal Link Title, a sandy beach with a cute resort town nearby. It's on Lake Erie, the province's most southern and shallowest lake, so the water is the warmest. Stroll the pier to the see the old light house, watch the tugboats, or dine on the waterExternal Link Title. Lake Erie's northern shoreline is popular because it's just two hours from London, or 2.5 hours from downtown Toronto, on easygoing regional roads and has several long, sandy beaches with laidback resort towns, wineries, and microbrew houses nearby.

Lake Huron: Sauble Beach

In Bruce County on Lake Huron, SaubleExternal Link Title provides a classic beach experience. Expect sports of all kinds in the warm, shallow water -- paddle boarding, kite and windsurfing, jet skiing, canoeing -- lots of dining opportunities and fun activitiesExternal Link Title, stock-car racing or NASCAR, an amusement park, and summertime classic car cruising on Main Street. The nearly seven-mile-long sandy beach itself is the world's second longest freshwater beachExternal Link Title. In spring or fall hike the Sauble TrailExternal Link Title to the pretty falls.


Ontario has many other hidden gems to uncover, too, like unusual rock formations, water-carved caves, and great surfing. Give yourself time to explore it all.