Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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When most people think of Canada, beaches likely don’t come to mind. Known for its dense forests, snowy landscapes, and varied wildlife, it can come as a surprise that Canada has more than its fair share of beach locations worth visiting. However, Canada is a big country, so its beaches aren’t all equal, and each one has its own special characteristics that make it unique.
No matter if you’re planning a trip for next week, next month, or next year, keep reading. This list has everything you need to know about the best beaches in Canada to add to your itinerary.
Map of the 12 Best Beaches in Canada
The 4 Best East Coast Beaches in Canada
1. Carters Beach, Nova Scotia
Carters Beach’s name might more aptly be Carters Beaches since this part of Nova Scotia’s shore is actually made up of 3 slightly distinct stretches of coastline.
What makes these 3 spots distinct from one another are their locations. Each beach is facing a slightly different direction, which is ideal for those looking for a sunny spot on their day by the water. Carters Beach is also famous for its Caribbean ambiance. The white sand and open horizon give the area a very exotic appearance that’s much different than anything you’ll find elsewhere in Canada.
This area isn’t prone to much wind, so you don’t have to worry about an added chill, which makes swimming or even going for a walk more comfortable. Fog and clouds are common in the morning, especially during the fall and winter months, though.
2. Crystal Crescent Beach Provincial Park, Nova Scotia
Crystal Crescent Beach doesn’t just offer tourists 1 beach, but 3. Each stretch of shore in the park is covered in soft white sand and is gently curved into a crescent which helps protect the area from strong winds and currents.
For that reason, it’s a popular place to go for a nature walk, as you can stroll along the boardwalk, trails, and sand without a chill from the wind. It’s worth noting that there is a little bit of a walk between the parking area and the sand, which can be difficult for people with mobility concerns. However, the boardwalk is generally easy to access and navigate.
Crystal Crescent is also a popular summer spot among locals since the water is shallow and gentle enough to swim peacefully. However, it’s not uncommon to see people reading or walking around, even in the winter.
3. Parlee Beach Provincial Park, New Brunswick
Parlee Beach offers visitors a chance to get in touch with Canada’s coastal environment, including its wildlife. The beach is the natural home to hermit crabs which can be seen on the sand. Though these creatures are small and fun to watch, make sure you don’t touch, move, or bother them.
The beach is natural and rustic, but it still has plenty of essential amenities like on-site restrooms. The beach is also equipped to handle mobility aids, making the beach accessible to virtually anyone.
Parlee is also beloved for its sunsets. You can watch the sun dip down over the horizon from the sand after a day of swimming and running around on the sand. The beach doesn’t usually get too busy either, even during the summer. That’s especially true if you visit during the week.
4. Stanhope Beach, Prince Edward Island
Stanhope Beach is a favorite summer spot among local families in the Prince Edward Island National Park. The park has on-site facilities, including showers and restrooms, that are well-maintained and have even been renovated in recent years.
The beach has plenty of space to run around on, and the water is gentle and shallow near the shore, making it safe for kids. However, if your child needs a break from the water or you’re visiting on a colder day, there’s also a playground nearby.
The water around Stanhope Beach tends to get warm relatively early in the summer, so the swimming season here is longer. However, even if the temperature is too chilly to go for a swim, you can enjoy a long walk on the beach’s plush sand. There are also lifeguard posts, though they aren’t always on duty.
The 5 Best West Coast Beaches in Canada
1. Bennett Beach, Yukon
Bennett is a picturesque beach in the Yukon Territory. This is a great place for people who want to avoid crowds since it doesn’t usually get busy. The serene ambiance is further enhanced by the scenery. You can see the mountains in the distance from the shore and the beach’s wooden pier, and thick trees line parts of the coast.
However, this isn’t the most swimmable beach. Its location on Emerald Lake means the water is too cold for swimming most of the year. If you want to do more than wade a little, you’ll need to wait until the middle of summer when temperatures are in the upper-70s.
You can still have fun on the shore. The sand is soft and comfortable if you want to lay out or do some nature watching. You can even have a picnic.
2. Chesterman Beach, British Columbia
There’s a lot to like about Chesterman Beach. From its soft light sand to its dramatic sunset views on the horizon, it’s not surprising to learn it’s often considered one of the best shores in British Columbia.
The beach is particularly popular among surfers. Though the water can be cold, it’s generally tolerable with a wetsuit between spring and fall, and temperatures can even be comfortable in summer. The waves here are consistent. Since Chesterman is quite long, with an interesting geography made up of a double-sided beach, there’s a lot of room to head out with your board.
The water here is also extremely clear and very blue, which isn’t just great for surfing, but also for walking and swimming.Hot Tip:
The beach’s location and layout also allow it to be protected from strong winds, leading to more comfortable days.
3. Kitsilano Beach, British Columbia
Locally known as “Kits Beach,” Kitsilano is one of Vancouver’s most popular coastal stretches. During the summer, this part of Canada can get quite warm, and the water provides a family-friendly, safe, and fun way to stay cool.
Kitsilano Beach offers its visitors a great view of Vancouver’s downtown area, the North Shore Mountains, and even an inlet. This diverse landscape creates a dynamic vista that makes photos and videos unique.
It can also feel like you’re in 3 separate places depending on what your particular view is at any given moment. That’s particularly true around sunset, when the colors of the sun going down over the horizon add a further unique flair.
There isn’t much natural shade near the water, so make sure you bring sun protection of your own if you plan on spending a sunny day here.
4. Long Beach, British Columbia
Long Beach can be found in British Columbia’s Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, and it lives up to its name. It’s, in fact, the longest beach in the park and one of the longest on Canada’s West Coast.
Since it’s such a vast coastal spot, it offers visitors the chance to partake in a wide variety of activities, especially during the summer months when the area is a bit warmer. Beachcombing, bocce ball, wakeboarding, and swimming are just a few of the ways you can spend your day at the shore.
Long Beach’s tides and climate tend to change between summer and winter. When it’s warmer, the water is usually gentle and fairly still. However, waves are strong and consistent during the winter. The area is also prone to high winds at that time, so make sure you bundle up if you go for a walk.
5. San Josef Bay, British Columbia
Located in the Cape Scott Provincial Park, San Josef Bay is a remote beach that can be reached via a 45-minute hike.
This rustic beach is surrounded by trees and mountains and notably doesn’t have any on-site facilities. The beach is also greatly affected by the tides, with parts of the shore becoming inaccessible at times.
Waves are pretty consistent around San Josef, which can make it an inviting spot for surfers. Swimming is also allowed. However, there are no lifeguards, and the beach is often virtually empty, so make sure to exercise extra caution while you’re here.
Since the bay is in the middle of a natural park, the bay is a great place to go if you want to birdwatch or see if you can spot any of the other animals that call this part of Canada home.
The 3 Best Inland Beaches in Canada
1. Grand Beach Provincial Park, Manitoba
Grand Beach Provincial Park is one of the best family-friendly places to spend a day by the water. Located on Lake Winnipeg, this freshwater beach is known for its soft white sand and dunes.
The park has an on-site campground if you want to spend a few days in the area during the summer. You can even walk between the sites and the shore, though it takes around 10 minutes to go back and forth between these areas.
The water is shallow around the shore, and there’s really no current, meaning kids can splash around without worries. There’s also a dog-friendly section if you like to travel with your pets. However, the park gets busy on summer weekends and holidays, so make sure you head out early on those days or stick to visiting during the week to avoid crowds.
2. Manitou Beach, Saskatchewan
When you say Manitou Beach, you can refer to 2 related but slightly different things. The first is a tiny resort village located in the Saskatchewan province. The second is that village’s namesake beach. Though Manitou Beach has become a bit of a tourist destination, its quaint, rustic nature still remains, and it never feels like the area is overrun with out-of-towners.
That’s largely because most tourists tend to stick to the lake areas near the resorts. The public beach has, instead, managed to remain a relatively hidden gem. In fact, many locals don’t even know there’s an accessible shore where you can relax, stroll, or picnic. The beach is located on Little Manitou Lake, a saltwater body of water that was formed by glaciers thousands of years ago.Hot Tip:
Keep in mind that this seclusion means there are no lifeguards.
3. Wasaga Beach, Ontario
Wasaga Beach and its shore are some of the most popular in Ontario, and for a good reason. Its spacious, open layout means there’s plenty of room to lay out a towel or go for a walk, even on days when crowd levels are high.
However, this isn’t the place to go if you’re looking for seclusion or peace and quiet, especially if you’re visiting in the summer. Both locals and tourists routinely frequent the beach, so there’s always someone to share the shore with.
The beach is also famous for being one of the best places in the area to get a tan. Since there’s very little natural shade near the water, you can get plenty of sun. Just make sure you bring sunscreen or other protection to keep from bringing a burn back home with you after your visit.
Clearly, Canada has numerous beaches worth visiting. From rustic natural shores to more lively tourist areas, there’s a stretch of Canadian coast for nearly anyone. With any luck, this list has helped you determine what your travel needs are to make choosing the right Canadian beach to add to your travel bucket list a breeze.
Featured Image Credit: Lukasz Szmigiel via Unsplash
Frequently Asked Questions
Though Canada is known for its cold weather climate, the country still has multiple warm beaches. The water in these areas, particularly around the Acadian Coast, tends to have warmer temperatures compared to other beaches, especially during the spring and summer seasons.
Canada’s temperatures can get quite warm during the summer months, so going for a swim is a favorite way to stay cool. In addition to the warmer weather, the water also tends to warm up, thanks to sun exposure and warmer currents.
Canada’s winters can be frigid, but its summers can reach temperatures in the upper-80s. It’s not uncommon to see people going for a swim between May and September. However, Canada is a large country with varied local climates, so temperature averages can vary.
It is absolutely forbidden to swim at and around Niagara Falls. The current from the cascade, the pressure from the water, the lack of visibility, and the presence of boats all make it extremely dangerous, and those caught trying will be strictly punished.
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