When most people dream of a beach vacation, they might picture Mexico, Australia, Greece… and Canada? Canada might not hit the top of the list for beach destinations, but there are a lot of nice beaches in Canada!
Canada is a large country—the second largest in the world in terms of area—so the landscape is very diverse. The country has everything from beaches along the coastline of three oceans, mountain ranges, kilometres of flat prairie land, lakes and rivers, forests, and everything in between!
This great diversity of landscape in the country means that there are some nice beaches in Canada that are varied and unique. To look at all the different nice beaches in Canada, we’ll look at the different regions in the country and what type of beaches are there. We’ll look at the west coast (British Columbia), the Prairies (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba), Ontario and Quebec, the Maritimes (Newfoundland, PEI, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia), and the northern territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut).
Beaches on the West Coast
The west coast of Canada is made up of the province of British Columbia (BC). BC is known for its diverse and beautiful landscape. It is located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, with 25,000km of coastline, which lends itself to some beautiful beaches! But even inland from the coast, there are some great spots to hit the beach.
Here are some regions of BC to go to the beach:
- Lower Mainland and Vancouver beaches. Vancouver is the largest city in the province and has some amazing urban beaches to check out. You can also enjoy all the amenities of a big city after your day at the beach!
- Vancouver Island beaches: located just off the coast of BC, Vancouver Island is a great spot to hit the beach. All around the Island are thousands of beautiful beaches, some that are famous for surfing and other water sports.
- BC Lake Country: in the interior of the city is Lake Country, near the cities of Kelowna and Vernon. The lakes in this region are Okanagan Lake, Kalamalka Lake, and Wood Lake. This region is also usually very hot during the summer, so cooling off in the lake is perfect.
There are many other lakes and rivers throughout BC with beautiful lakes to visit. Take a road trip and discover them for yourself!
Beaches in the Prairies
The Canadian Prairies are made up of the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. This region is known for its flat geography, made up of plains, lowlands, and farmable land. Therefore, the Prairies is not a natural “beach destination.” There is no access to the ocean from these provinces, though there are lakes and rivers that make up bodies of water for beach access.
Here are some of the beaches to check out in the Prairies:
- Alberta beaches: there are some popular beaches in Alberta located on regional lakes. Some top choices include Aspen Beach (two hours from Calgary) or Kinbrook Island Beach (two hours from Calgary).
- Saskatchewan beaches: all beaches in Saskatchewan are located around lakes, and some popular spots to visit are Good Spirit Lake Provincial Park—named one of the top 10 beaches in Canada!—and Regina Beach near the capital city of Regina.
- Manitoba beaches: some popular beaches in the province are Gimli Beach (about one hour from Winnipeg on Lake Winnipeg) and Brereton Lake Beach (two hours from Winnipeg).
This is just a sampling of some of the beaches in the Prairies. There are so many lakes (at least 35 lakes over 400km2), that you are bound to find some great beaches to relax and enjoy.
Beaches in Ontario and Quebec
Ontario and Quebec are two large Canadian provinces that hold the majority of the countries population. Unlike the Prairie provinces, they have a more varied landscape with forests, lakes, rivers, and mountains. There are some great spots to visit the beach and have a relaxing time. Ontario alone has over 25,000 lakes! Here are some top beaches in Ontario and Quebec:
- Beaches near the city in Quebec: one of the popular beaches in Quebec is just an hour from Montreal—Oka Beach. Another popular beach is Lac Phillipe, located in Gatineau Park, located close to Ottawa.
- The Magdalen Islands: theses Islands have some of the best beaches in Quebec. The most popular spot is Havre-Aubert Beach. There are also some quaint, picturesque towns in this region with lighthouses and colourful homes!
- The Great Lakes: there are four Great Lakes (Erie, Huron, Ontario, and Superior) located in Ontario which offer a huge variety of beaches to choose from. Because of the sheer size of the lakes, it also can feel like you are near the ocean! They are so large you can’t see across, and the shores are sandy—perfect for some sunbathing and relaxing.
- Toronto-area beaches: Toronto is the most populous city in Canada and is located on the shores of Lake Ontario. The nearby cities of Hamilton, Kingston, and the many suburbs are also located nearby. There are a number of urban lakes and parks in this area to check out!
Beaches in the Maritimes
The Maritimes are made up of four provinces in Eastern Canada: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. This is a unique region of the country that is more rural, with smaller cities, beautiful natural scenery, and a laid-back lifestyle. The eastern coast of Canada is located next to the Atlantic Ocean, so most of the beaches in this area are on the ocean.
Here are some of the most popular beaches in Atlantic Canada or the Maritime region:
- New River Beach, New Brunswick: This beach is located on the Bay of Fundy and is a sandy beach popular for swimming, boating and camping.
- Rainbow Haven Beach, Nova Scotia: this beach is located on the eastern shore. The waters of the Atlantic Ocean are very warm, so it’s a great swimming spot!
- Basin Head Beach, Prince Edward Island: this is probably one of the most picturesque beaches in the region! It’s located in a nature reserve, so it’s very quiet and peaceful.
This is a very brief selection of beaches in this area because there are really just too many to choose from! The entire coastline of this eastern region is dotted with beaches. You can easily go for a drive and find somewhere to stop and enjoy the beach.
Beaches in the Northern Territories
The northern area of Canada—the territories of Yukon, Nunavut, and Northwest Territories—is known for being cold and frozen… and for a lot of the year, that’s true! But, there is still a summer season where it warms up and is possible to visit some of the local lakes and beaches.
Here are some of the beaches you can check out in the area:
- Northwest Territories beaches: Great Bear Lake, Long Lake, and Pine Lake, among others, all have large sandy beaches along the lake. Because of the northern location, the sun shines for nearly 24 hours during the summer months!
- Yukon beaches: Chadburn Lake, Hour Lake, and Watson Lake are all popular recreation areas for boating or fishing. They may not be sandy beaches like in other areas, but you can still enjoy a day out on the water!
There are many other parks, lakes, and beaches in the territories to check out. Just keep in mind that the further north you go, the colder it gets! For most of the year, the climate in the northern territories is not beach-going weather. The summer season is fairly short, too. But, if you don’t mind bundling up with warm weather, you can enjoy the lakes and beaches throughout these beautiful territories!
Canada is a large and diverse country. The landscape is beautiful and varied, creating so many unique spots to enjoy a day at the beach. Each region of Canada has its own features and so going to the beach will look different depending on where you go. This is just a sample of some of the nice beaches in Canada—the best thing to do is to go out and explore for yourself!