Ontario is a large province in Canada where almost 40% of the country’s population lives. Many residents of Ontario love living there because of its diverse natural beauty, with many amazing forests, lakes, and rivers. There are more than 250,000 lakes in Ontario, which actually equals one-fifth of the world’s freshwater! All of these lakes mean one thing: beach days. Ontario beaches are overall clean, safe, and accessible to use and enjoy.
There are so many awesome beaches along the lakes of Ontario. Residents and visitors alike have endless options of beaches to go and visit. They vary quite a bit and there are good choices whether you like sunbathing, fishing, swimming, boating, or any other kind of beach activity.
But, are the beaches in Ontario clean? What is the cleanest beach in Ontario? Are you able to swim and go in the water? We will take a look at some of these questions so you can determine where you might want to visit while in Ontario.
Are Ontario Beaches Clean?
We will primarily be talking about the beaches along the Great Lakes in Ontario to answer this. While there are other lakes in the province, it is hard to discuss all 250,000 of them. The Great Lakes are the biggest lakes and beaches that have the most visitors, by far.
So, are Ontario beaches clean? The short answer to this is yes, Ontario beaches are clean. They have not always been this way, though, since they are susceptible to pollution like waste from cities, discharge from industrial areas, and chemicals from agriculture. To ensure that the Great Lakes are clean, there are agreements between the USA and Canada to restore them and keep them clean and safe.
This being said, the Lakes are definitely clean to use for recreational purposes like swimming or boating, where you are not ingesting the water. They are clear, cool, and clean—beautiful for going in for a dip!
The other aspect of a beach is the land or sandy area. Overall, these are also clean and well-maintained. Since a lot of the beaches are maintained by parks boards and officials, there are efforts made to keep the beaches litter and waste-free. Like any public-use area, there can be litter and garbage, but it is generally not a major problem in Ontario.
Blue Flag Certification
To determine if a beach is clean, it’s helpful to have an objective standard. The Blue Flag is a worldwide certification that beaches and marinas can achieve. To qualify for the Blue Flag, there are a number of strict environmental, safety, and accessibility criteria that need to be achieved.
The Blue Flag is committed to promoting sustainability through environmental education. It helps meet the UN’s sustainable development goals by focusing on sustainable practices.
If you are at a beach or marina with a Blue Flag, you can be assured that the beaches are clean and meet requirements for sustainability and environmental standards.
Cleanest Beaches in Ontario
The Blue Flag is a good metric to use when determining what beaches are the cleanest in Ontario. There are 18 beaches in Ontario that achieved the Blue Flag certification in 2021. The beaches include:
- Bell Park Beach: Located in Sudbury and known for hosting different festivals and events. Has a sandy beach and a boardwalk to go walking and biking on.
- Bluffer’s Park Beach: Located in Toronto with views of the Scarborough bluffs surrounding the beach.
- Canatara Park Beach: Located in Sarnia on the shores of Lake Huron (near the St. Claire River). This beach has a kilometre-long sandy beach and is near the large Canatara Park.
- Centre Island Beach: Located in Toronto, this beach is known for shallow and warm waters for swimming. Very popular with families in Toronto and is accessible via ferry from mainland Toronto.
- Cherry Beach: Located in Toronto and has a sandy beach, perfect for swimming and just hanging out.
- Gibraltar Point Beach: Located in Toronto, this beach is a quiet beach with not as many visitors as some of the others in the area. There is a long stretch of sand dunes along the beach.
- Grand Bend Beach: Located in the Municipality of Lambton Shores, this is a large beach (20 acres) located near the vibrant downtown area of Grand Bend, where you can grab some food and drink or go shopping.
- Hanlan’s Point Beach: Located in Toronto, or the Toronto Islands—a chain of islands that are a popular recreation spot, accessible by ferry. It’s also one of the only “clothes optional” beaches in Canada!
- Kew-Balmy Beach: Located in Toronto, this beach is known for the long boardwalk along the shoreline.
- Moonlight Beach: Located in Sudbury, this beach has both a sandy and grassy area to spend the day.
- Port Burwell East Beach: Located in Port Burwell in the municipality of Bayham. There is a long stretch of sandy beach, complete with volleyball courts.
- Port Stanley Main Beach: Located in Port Stanley on Lake Erie.
- Spine Beach: Located in Elliot Lake, connected to Spruce Beach by a walking trail.
- Spruce Beach: Also located in Elliot Lake, a quaint town to visit.
- Ward’s Island Beach: Located in Toronto, this beach is accessible by the Toronto Ferry. The beach is less busy and touristy than Centre Island park, so a good spot to get away for some relaxation.
- Wasaga Beach Area 1: Located in Wasaga, this beach is located near the historic naval site in Wasaga. There are a number of events that happen throughout the park here as well, like jazz concerts and educational activities.
- Wasaga Beach Area 2: Also located in Wasaga.
- Woodbine Beach: Located in Toronto and known for its long boardwalk along the beach and neighbouring parks.
There are a lot of lakes in Ontario which means there are a lot of beaches! And if you want to visit the beach to go swimming or just hang out, you want to ensure it is clean. Overall, Ontario beaches are clean to use for swimming and other recreational activities.
However, the Blue Flag certification is an objective measure of cleanliness and can help you determine which beach in Ontario is the cleanest. In 2021, 18 beaches in Ontario achieved the Blue Flag certification, so you have a lot of great options to choose from!