Stunning white sand beaches in Ontario
Bordering four of the five Great Lakes, plus endless more sparking freshwater lakes, you’ll find some of the nation’s most scenic places to lay out a towel or set up your beach chair in Ontario.
There are well-known and well-loved beaches, such as the beach at Grand Bend on Lake Huron, one of Ontario’s original beach towns.
As the longest freshwater beach in the world, Wasaga Beach on Georgian Bay needs little introduction. And the massive rolling sand dunes at Sandbanks Provincial Park are easily one of Ontario’s most impressive beaches. These gorgeous spots can get quite busy in the summer, so consider visiting mid-week or off-season. However, there are many more sunny Ontario destinations with sandy beaches that will make you think you’re on a tropical island getaway.
Here's a selection of Ontario beaches to visit this summer.
Point Pelee National Park and Pelee Island, Lake Erie
Point Pelee National Park is the most southern national park in Canada, as well as the most ecologically diverse. From marshlands to forests and birds to butterflies, there’s plenty to enjoy in this national gem, including a day at the beach. The 20 kilometre stretch of sandy waterfront is the longest continuous beach in Essex County, perfect for picnics, sandcastles and sunbathing. Northwest Beach and West Beach are popular access points with comfort facilities.
A 90-minute ferry ride from Leamington or Kingsville transports you to Pelee Island, Canada’s southernmost inhabited land. Famous for its vineyards and relaxed island vibe, several beautiful beaches invite you to stop and enjoy the view. A long, scenic sandspit extends into the lake at Fish Point Provincial Nature Reserve, while the park is also a great spot for birdwatching. Sunset and East Park beaches are also lovely spots for beachgoers.
Toronto Islands beaches
When visiting the city of Toronto, you may be surprised to discover a natural haven just a short boat ride from the harbourfront. The Toronto Islands are a collection of 15 car-free, connected islands that feature gardens, forests, parks and gorgeous sandy beaches. Regularly scheduled ferry service from the mainland will bring you to one of three island docks in just 15 minutes.
Centre Island Beach, a few minutes' walk from the ferry port, is one of the most popular Toronto Islands beaches. You’ll find soft white sand giving way to the waves of Lake Ontario. This is a great beach for families with concession stands nearby and lifeguards on duty.
Just west of Centre Island Beach is Gibraltar Point Beach, a quieter spot with a notably gorgeous lake view. The white sand is ideal for laying out a towel and catching some sun before going for a dip in the lake. The Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, built in the 1800s, is just a few minutes’ walk from the beach.
If you continue further along the shoreline, you’ll reach Hanlan’s Point Beach, a local favourite as it’s even quieter. The vast beach has plenty of space to spread out on the soft sand, as well as a designated clothing-optional section. Make sure to bring a snack and some water since there are no concession stands on this beach.
The best part of sunning on the Toronto Islands? All of these beaches are just a short walk from one another, so you can spend your lake day hopping from beach to beach with ease.
Cobourg Beach on Lake Ontario
Located on the northern shore of Lake Ontario east of Toronto, this scenic white sand beach is the ideal summer hang. With proximity to the charming town of Cobourg, as well as a bustling boardwalk along the beach, there’s lots to do beyond the beach.
Families with young kids will love the splash pad at Cobourg Beach. You can even camp at the Victoria Park Campgrounds adjacent to the beach. Walk along the pier to see the historic Cobourg East Pierhead Lighthouse, which gets bathed in picturesque waves every few minutes.
The Beach Canteen, just a minutes’ walk from the beach, offers ice cream on hot summer days as well as a wide selection of other beach-friendly snacks. Victoria Park also has several pavilions, so you can bring your lunch and get a break from the sunshine.
Canatara Beach on Lake Huron
Opening up to the bright blue waters of Lake Huron, Canatara Beach stretches along a lovely section of the shoreline just outside of the town of Sarnia. Right across the border of Michigan, the picturesque Blue Coast town is the perfect place for a family beach day.
For more adventure, Canatara Park has several playgrounds, a BMX track, plenty of hiking trails, an animal farm and a mini train that rides kids around the park.
Visitors to the beach can also go wakeboarding, sailing, kayaking and fishing along the shoreline. And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with spending your beach day spread out on a towel with a good book.
A few minutes’ walk from the park, the Cove swimming basin is a safe and enjoyable place for a dip. Canatara Beach is a designated Blue Flag beach for its commitment to clean water and safety for swimmers.
Port Stanley Beach on Lake Erie
Nestled on the north shore of Lake Erie at the mouth of Kettle Creek, the harbour village of Port Stanley is home to Main Beach, and the less bustling Erie Rest Beach, Little Beach and Pumphouse Beach.
Main Beach is a beautiful, long sandy stretch that has earned the official Blue Flag status for its excellent care, including water quality, environmental responsibility and safety measures. Mobile mats are available making the beach accessible to people using wheelchairs, walkers or strollers. You’ll also find accessible washrooms and changing facilities on-site.
Enjoy swimming, sunbathing, boating and water sports. Canoe, kayak, paddleboat and SUP rentals are available at Bridgeview Marina. Besides sand and sun, the beach has a beach volleyball court, boardwalk and lifeguarding service during peak season.
Paid parking is in effect for the beach to help direct and maintain traffic flow throughout the day. Main Beach attracts thousands of beachgoers each season, so parking elsewhere in town is often the better way to enjoy the beach hassle-free.
Spruce Beach on Elliot Lake
Nestled in the secluded community of Elliot Lake, this small beach is the perfect place to bring your kids on a warm summer day. The beach is famous for the rock protruding from the water, which kids love to swim out to, climb and jump off.
The water in Elliot Lake is crystal clear, especially by the beach, which has a designated swimming area. Lifeguards are present during certain times of the day. The white sand is the perfect fodder for sandcastles or volleyball courts, and despite its size, this beach still feels spacious.
Spruce Beach has a stunning view of the towering trees on Sylvah Island, just a few kilometres into the water. It’s also conveniently located right by the town of Elliot Lake, the boat launch and the alternative Spine Beach.
Sauble Beach on Lake Huron
Perhaps the most luxurious white sand beach in Ontario, Sauble Beach, another Blue Flag designation, is one of Ontario’s most highly sought-after beach destinations.
Because it’s so popular, the town has taken several precautions to protect the natural environment and the community. As such, there are washrooms and rubbish bins conveniently located along all 10 kilometres of beach.
Once you enter through the iconic Sauble Beach archway — a great photo opportunity — find a spot on the sand and get in to enjoy the water. Beachgoers enjoy windsurfing, wakeboarding, fishing, sailing and swimming in the beautiful blue Lake Huron waters. Sauble Beach truly feels like an island getaway with its long stretches of warm, shallow water that gives way to the shining white sand underneath.
Agawa Bay Beach on Lake Superior
Located in Lake Superior Provincial Park, this beach and campground are beautiful spots from which to admire the majestic Lake Superior, from swimming and sunning to watching the sunset over the horizon. The largest of the Great Lakes, Superior is clean and refreshing, albeit a little chilly.
There are several amazing hiking trails in the park, but if you’d rather just relax on the beach, take a refreshing dip or watch the crashing waves, Agawa Bay is the place to be. Note, also along Superior’s coast, the beaches at Batchawana Bay and Pancake Bay Provincial Parks and the stretch of coast at Sandy Beach Eco-Interpretive Park in Wawa are equally sublime.
Last updated: January 24, 2023