Child playing with the waves of a lake.

Lake Erie | Ontario's Southwest

Blue Flag beaches in Ontario

Child playing with the waves of a lake.

Lake Erie | Ontario's Southwest

Communities strive to be awarded a “Blue Flag'', a coveted eco-award given annually to beaches (and marinas and boating operations) around the world that meet specific, strict standards of excellence in water quality, level of safety, as well as environmental education and services.

The following beaches have met the highest standards for a Blue Flag.

Greater Toronto Area

Bluffer’s Park Beach

Head to Bluffer’s Park Beach to escape the city and feel like you’re on a mini-vacation. Part of the Scarborough Bluffs, a 15-kilometre stretch of sandy cliffs along Lake Ontario, this large sandy beach is one of the top beaches in Ontario and offers beach lovers a fun day out. Take in the view of the towering bluffs and watch the sunset from the cliffs.

Fun and food at the beach

  • Stand-up paddle board lessons and rentals from Oceah Oceah are available Fridays and Saturdays in July and August.
  • Go fishing (just make sure to have a valid Ontario fishing licence).
  • Pack a picnic or refuel with a burger or hotdog from Curbside Dogs, then place your order at one of the Ice cream trucks available on-site most days. 
  • Facilities include a change room, outdoor shower and washrooms.
  • Lifeguards are on duty daily through the season from 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. 

Getting there

1 Brimley Road South, Scarborough

  • The beach is located in the northeast corner of Bluffers Park.
  • There are a limited number of paid parking spots at the Bluffers Park lot at Brimley Road.
  • If the beach is overcrowded, access to the beach by car may be closed. Consider arriving at off-hours or taking transit.
  • The 175 Bluffers Park bus provides seasonal service to the beach from Kennedy Station.

Centre Island Beach

Over a dozen connected, car-free islands are nestled along the city’s waterfront creating the Toronto Islands.

Centre Island beach is one of four Blue Flag beaches on the Toronto Islands. Not only is it the closest, but it’s also the perfect place for families to enjoy activities and a range of family attractions. Whether it’s walking along the beach, enjoying a picnic or visiting the Centreville amusement park, your day will be filled with fun and sun. The water also tends to be warmer and calmer than the rest of Lake Ontario, making it a great swimming spot.

Fun and food at the beach

  • Rent a four-seater or tandem bike and cruise along the bike trail, available between 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. or explore the waterways and lagoons with a kayak and canoe rental.
  • Kids’ attractions include a maze, animal farm, splash pad, playground and Centreville Amusement Park.
  • Barbeque stations are available for picnics or you can purchase fast food and snacks at the Centre Island ferry dock or even dine at one of the island’s charming cafes.
  • Lockers, change rooms and washroom facilities are located near the beach.
  • A lifeguard is on duty every day from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. during the summer. 

Getting there

Centre Island, Toronto Islands, Toronto

  • Board a ferry to reach the Toronto Islands. The city-operated ferries depart from Jack Layton Ferry Terminal, located at 9 Queens Quay West and provide regular service to and from Centre, Hanlan’s and Ward’s Islands. The ferry ride is approximately 20 minutes, and each ticket includes the return journey.
  • Ferry lineups may be long on hot summer days, so check the ferry schedule, get there early and book your tickets online.
  • Parking options are limited along the Harbourfront however, the ferry terminal is a quick 10-minute walk from Union Station and just a few minutes from the Bay Street/Lake Shore streetcar stop. Plan your transit route using the TTC website.

Cherry Beach

One of the cleanest beaches in Ontario, Cherry Beach is also a popular spot for local windsurfers and kiteboarders. And with a designated off-leash dog area, it’s a great place for humans and their four-legged friends to play, relax and cool off with a swim.

Fun and food at the beach

  • Get out on the water with a rental from Toronto SUP & Kayak, located in the East Parking Lot.
  • Turn your beach day into a beach party with a community-hosted electronic music festival each Sunday (or holiday Monday) evening.
  • Bring a picnic or grab some fries from the food truck parked near the entrance to the beach. There are also some grilling stations available, bring your own coals for the BBQ.
  • Washroom facilities are available, and lifeguard supervision hours are 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Getting there

1 Cherry Street, Toronto

  • Two parking lots are available however, they can quickly fill up on the weekend.
  • Leave your car at home and take the 72B Pape bus to Cherry Beach from Pape or Union Station.

Gibraltar Point Beach

Another Toronto Island beach, Gibraltar Beach may just be one of Toronto’s best-kept secrets. It’s perfect for those looking for a quiet day of swimming and sunning.

Fun and food at the beach

  • Discover Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, built in the early 1800s, it’s the oldest standing lighthouse on the Great Lakes and is rumoured to be haunted by a murdered lightkeeper.
  • Explore the nature trails, great for birdwatching.
  • Pack a picnic and your own beverages or visit one of the food locations mentioned above.
  • Swim at your own risk, there is no lifeguard supervision and no on-site washrooms.

Getting there

Toronto Islands, Toronto

  • Located between Centre Island and Hanlan’s beaches, take either the Centre Island or Hanlan’s Point ferry and follow the footpath to Gibraltar Point.

Hanlan’s Point Beach

It’s beach season so get your beach outfit ready - or perhaps not. As of 2002, a portion of Hanlan’s Point Beach was officially recognized as clothing optional. So, if you don’t want a tan line, you know which side of the beach to go.

The furthest west of the Toronto Islands beaches, it’s also one of the top beaches in Ontario to view magnificent sunsets. Hanlan’s Point beach was the site of Toronto’s first gay pride event and has been an LGBTQ+ welcoming environment ever since. 

Fun and food at the beach

  • Get a little competitive with friends. Play a round of tennis, volleyball or baseball at nets and diamonds near the beach.
  • Grab some food from the Mermaid Cafe.
  • Facilities include washrooms, change rooms, picnic spots and fire pits.
  • Lifeguard supervision is provided on weekends only.

Getting there

Hanlan’s Point, Toronto Islands, Toronto

  • The Hanlan’s Point Ferry provides service between the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Hanlan’s Point dock. It’s about a 15-minute walk from the beach.

Ward’s Island Beach

Located on the eastern side of the Toronto Islands next to the charming community of island residents, Ward’s Island Beach provides visitors a quiet, relaxed experience. And because it’s sheltered by the Leslie Split, the water is calm and safe for swimming. Stroll along the boardwalk and discover charming island homes, beautiful Lake Ontario views and watch sailboats float by. 

Fun and food at the beach

  • Discover the kid-approved Pirate Park.
  • Head to the Island Café for their beautiful patio, good food and refreshing drinks.
  • Swim at your own risk, no lifeguard supervision.
  • Washroom facilities are available.

Getting there

Toronto Islands, Toronto

  • Take the Ward’s Island Ferry to Ward’s Island dock, the beach is a five-minute walk away.


Kew-Balmy Beach

Loved by locals for almost a century, Kew-Balmy Beach is quieter than most other Toronto Blue Flag beaches. The 1.2-kilometre stretch of sand makes for a great spot to relax and soak up the sun in Toronto’s laid-back Beaches community.

Fun and food at the beach

  • Stroll along the well-maintained waterfront boardwalk or cycle the designated bike lane along the Martin Goodman Trail.
  • Reserve kayak rentals or book paddling lessons with Toronto Beach Kayak or enjoy a game of lawn bowling, tennis, baseball or basketball. There are also outdoor fitness equipment and playground facilities nearby.
  • Discover The Beaches neighbourhood along Queen Street East, you’ll find an assortment of great bars, bistros and restaurants. If you’re looking to indulge your sweet tooth, head to Beaches n’ Cream Gelato and Ice Cream Café.
  • Lifeguard supervision is available during the summer from 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Accessible washrooms available.

Getting there

2075 Queen Street East, Toronto

  • Limited parking is available at Balmy Beach Lot, or you may find free street parking nearby.
  • The most convenient way to get to Key-Balmy Beach is on the 501 streetcar that travels along Queen Street.

Woodbine Beach

This Blue Flag Beach is Toronto’s most popular beach spot. Home to almost 100 beach volleyball courts and disc golf course, watch a game or start one of your own. Pack a picnic and view long weekend fireworks on Victoria Day, Canada Day and Labour Day weekends. 

Fun and food at the beach

  • Hike or bike portions of the Waterfront Trail or Martin Goodman Trail.
  • Rent kayaks with iPaddle Adventures, located at Ashbridges Bay Point.
  • Dine at the Toronto Beach Club, a full-service restaurant serving up a Mediterranean tapas-style menu with a patio close to the beach or grab an ice cream from GG’s on the Beach snack bar.
  • The bathing station provides change rooms, accessible washroom facilities, beach shower with foot wash and water bottle filling stations.
  • Lifeguards are on duty between 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Getting there

1675 Lake Shore Boulevard East, Toronto

  • Parking is available at 30 Ashbridges Bay Park Road.
  • Both the 92 Woodbine bus and 501 Queen Street streetcar provide access to Woodbine Beach.
  • Find a Bike Share station to bike the beach.

Northern Ontario

Bell Park Beach

Sudbury’s largest urban park, Bell Park is a waterfront destination on the shores of Ramsey Lake that’s comprised of several beaches, along with pathways, gardens, playgrounds and picnic areas. Bell Park’s Main Beach is a Blue Flag location that invites guests to swim, play, walk along the Bell Park Boardwalk or sit on the beach and enjoy the views of the lake. 

Fun and food at the beach

  • See a concert at the large amphitheater which hosts special events such as the Northern Lights Festival Boréal.
  • Head a short distance down the boardwalk to one of Northern Ontario’s most popular attractions, Science North.
  • Enjoy a picnic at one of the two gazebos and beyond the Bell Park Concession Stand, you’ll find more dining options in downtown Sudbury. 
  • Floating wheelchairs can be reserved for visitors with disabilities to get out on the water
  • Lifeguards are on duty at Bell Park Main Beach from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. between mid-June and mid-August.
  • Accessible washrooms and change rooms on-site.

Getting there

Bell Park Boardwalk, Greater Sudbury

  • Free parking is available at the Sudbury Canoe Club.

Moonlight Beach

Situated on the east end of Ramsey Lake, Moonlight Beach is another popular urban beach in Sudbury, with over 200 metres (700 feet) of shoreline for swimming and sunbathing.

Fun and food at the beach

  • Go for a hike trail between Lake Laurentian Conservation Area and Moonlight Beach, approximately 3.5 kilometres.
  • Enjoy the playground and picnic benches.
  • Washrooms and change rooms are available.
  • Lifeguards are on duty daily from mid-June to Mid-August, 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Getting there

Moonlight Beach Road, Sudbury

  • Free parking is available 
  • Seasonal bus service to Moonlight Beach is available 

Spine Beach

Spine Beach is an inviting sandy beach overlooking Elliot Lake just a short distance west of the town of Elliot Lake. With a designated dog water area and a kid’s playground, there’s something for everyone in the family.

Fun and food at the beach

  • Walk the trail that connects Spruce Beach to Spine Beach.
  • Swim safely between the buoys which create a safe swimming zone for children.
  • Find picnic tables, washroom and changing facilities.
  • Lifeguard service is provided from the end of June to the end of August.

Getting there

Spine Road, Elliot Lake

  • Free parking is available at the west end of Spine Road.

Spruce Beach

Another great family-friendly spot along Elliot Lake, Spruce Beach features a supervised swimming area, a large rock for kids to swim to and jump off, a playground, a sandy area for relaxing or playing and lots of shaded space to enjoy a picnic. 

Fun and food at the beach

  • Hike the trail between Spruce Beach and Westview Park and Boat Launch.
  • Play at the playground and take the dog for a run at the dog friendly area.
  • Swim safely, buoys indicate swimming depths that are suitable for children.
  • Find washroom and playground facilities onsite.
  • Lifeguard supervision is provided in July and August from noon to 7:00 p.m.

Getting there

Voyageur Trail, Elliot Lake

  • Parking is available off Spruce Avenue.

Southwestern Ontario

Canatara Park Beach

Situated on the shores of Lake Huron, just east of the mouth of the St. Clair River in the heart of Sarnia, Canatara Park Beach is a prime waterfront location with a kilometre long sandy beach, outdoor attractions and kid-friendly activities. 

Fun and food at the beach

  • Go fishing with Blue Line Fishing Charters 
  • Hike, cycle and bird watch in the extensive parkland and trails.
  • Keep your family entertained at the playground, petting zoo, BMX bike track or Border Pass Wakeboard Park, a cable systems wakeboard and wakeskate facility.
  • Rent a picnic pavilion or order the tastiest fries, hot dogs and ice cream from Albert’s Original & Suzys Ice Creamporium.
  • Find accessible washrooms and rubber beach mats for wheelchairs or strollers.
  • Lifeguards are on duty from June to the end of August from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Getting there

Christina Street, Point Edward, Sarnia

  • The parking lot is located off Christina Street.

Grand Bend Beach

Grand Bend Beach is one of the liveliest beach destinations in Ontario.

Beachgoers and sun bathers gravitate to the spacious sandy beach and expansive Lake Huron views, while water sport activities, shops, restaurants, theatre, golf courses, a boardwalk for strolling and more means there is something for everyone and the fun is endless. And to top it off, Grand Bend Beach has been awarded the annual Blue Flag status for over a decade.

Fun and food at the beach

Getting there 

Grand Bend, Municipality of Lambton Shores

  • Pay parking lots are located at the end of Main Street West.

Port Stanley Main Beach

Overlooking the north shore of Lake Erie, Port Stanley is a charming community and home to one of the loveliest stretches of sandy beach in Ontario that has earned a Blue Flag status for water quality and safety.

Fun and food at the beach

  • Rent a canoe, kayak, paddle boat or standup paddle board from Bridgeveiw Marina
  • Discover one of Ontario’s finest multi-use trails, The Waterfront Trail which extends along Ontario’s Great Lakes, including Lake Erie
  • Cool off with an ice cream treat from Broderick’s Ice Cream Parlour or a cold drink on the beachfront patio at GT’s on the Beach
  • Find accessible washrooms and change facilities, as well as rubber mats for beach access for wheelchairs and strollers
  • Lifeguards are on duty during the summer months

Getting there

William Street, Port Stanley

  • Pay parking is available at the Main Beach Parking Lot at 332 Edith Cavell Boulevard.

Port Burwell East Beach

It’s hard not to fall in love with Port Burwell East Beach. The beach is peaceful, pristine and its shallow waters offer an ideal swimming environment. With its Blue Flag certification for Ontario beach water quality, it’s no surprise that this spot has been referred to as the Jewel of Lake Erie’s north shore.

Fun and food at the beach

Getting there 

1 Robinson Street, Port Burwell

  • Free parking available at the beach.

Learn more about the global Blue Flag Program and Blue Flag Canada

The Swim Guide is a comprehensive source of beach information and water quality. Download the app to search for Ontario beaches.

Last updated: December 30, 2023

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