8 Stunning White Sand Beaches in Ontario

Four men run down a sandy beach into the lake

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. Here are eight of Ontario’s white sand beaches that will make you think you’re on a tropical island getaway.

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Toronto Islands Beaches

When visiting the city of Toronto, you may be surprised to discover a natural paradise 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 short 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.

A short walk 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 is 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 aren’t 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 stunning 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, and 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.

Sandbanks Dunes Beach on Lake Ontario

Part of Sandbanks Provincial Park, Sandbanks Dune Beach is easily one of Ontario’s most impressive beaches. Massive, steep sand dunes give way to a beautiful enclave in West Lake, in Prince Edward County.

Save for the deciduous trees and decidedly freshwater of West Lake, this beach feels like a tropical escape, partly because of the impressive natural phenomenon of sand dunes. As the largest baymouth barrier dune in the world, the Sandbanks Dunes were created by a glacier 12,500 years ago, creating the bay known as West Lake.

The white sand dunes are not just beautiful and geologically impressive, though — they are also the perfect habitat for thousands of migratory birds each year. Because the dunes jut into Lake Ontario, the birds are likely to land near Sandbanks Dunes Beach in spring and autumn.

The beach is a great starting point for the many hiking trails in Sandbanks Provincial Park, and beyond the park, the County is known for its picturesque vineyards and farm-to-table cuisine.

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, this picturesque Blue Coast town is the perfect place for a family beach day.

If you want a bit 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 stunning 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.

Wasaga Beach on Georgian Bay

As the longest freshwater beach in the world, this beautiful Blue Flag designated, white sandy beach on Georgian Bay has plenty of space to spread out and explore. From quiet, secluded beach walks to busy summer days filled with ice cream and volleyball, Wasaga Beach is the ultimate beach destination.

With 14 km of shoreline, Wasaga Beach is divided into six sections for various purposes. You can reach sections one and two via the boardwalk that runs along the beach; section three allows dogs to swim; and sections four through six are less populated on busy days.

There is so much to do at this Ontario summer holiday staple, from birdwatching or taking in local history at the Nancy Island Historic Site. Rent a wave runner, launch your boat, go for a 14 km hike or simply kick back on the beach and soak in some sun.

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 km 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 km 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, including the Agawa River Falls hike and, of course the epic Lake Superior Coastal Trail. 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.

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