Top 10 Beaches in Canada

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Posted June 20, 2013 by Vacay in Beach Travel
Singing-Sands-PEI

Singing Sands Beach in Basin Head Provincial Park is the No. 1 beach in Canada because of its warm waters and unique sound. (John Sylvester/Tourism PEI photo)

Story by Vacay.ca Staff

One of Canada’s best-kept secrets is that it is full of beaches. In a country with a world-leading 265,523 kilometres of coastline — nearly twice as much as the United States, the No. 2 nation in the category — the wealth of sand and seashells shouldn’t be a surprise. Some of Canada’s beaches are so outstanding, in fact, that any ardent beach-goer would readily categorize them as world class. At Vacay.ca, we have spent recent months combing the sandy spots of the nation, determining which beaches are the absolute finest and deserve a visit from you this summer.

The criteria for our choices included rating the beaches on their quality of warm and clean water, amenities, accessibility, swimming and water sports options, safety, sense of place, relaxation, and facilities.

Some terrific beaches did not make the list. Among the notable omissions are Bennett Beach (Yukon), Devonshire Beach (Alberta), Kellys Beach (New Brunswick), Parksville Beach (British Columbia), Sauble (Ontario), and Carter’s Beach (Nova Scotia). As always when Vacay.ca’s travel experts produce one of our lists, we welcome public opinion. Send us an email to let us know your favourite beach in Canada — after you’ve perused our list.

In time for the solstice, here are the Vacay.ca Top 10 Beaches in Canada for 2013:

1. Singing Sands, Basin Head Provincial Park, Souris, PEI

Location: 93 kilometres east of Charlottetown
Website: www.tourismpei.com/pei-singing-sands-beach
Interesting Facts: For reasons scientists are still trying to figure out, this beach makes a strange swishing sound whenever the wind swirls or when a visitor walks on it. Tourism officials on Prince Edward Island suggest the reason may be because of the texture and consistency of the quartz sand. Nevertheless, the sound is a unique feature of a beach that has some of the warmest waters north of Florida. In summer, the water temperature will top 21 Celsius degrees (70 Fahrenheit) at Singing Sands and other sandy spots on PEI, which has more than 800 kilometres of beaches to explore.
Why This Beach Rocks: Some of the warmest waters in the northern hemisphere. The supervised beach is in a day-use (summer) park that has a play area, food, washroom, shower facilities, and the Basin Head Fisheries Museum.

2. Wasaga Beach, Ontario

Location: 134 kilometres north of Toronto
Website: www.wasagabeach.com/tourism.index.gk
Interesting Facts: In 2007, a major fire ripped through the main street pedestrian mall of this beach town in the Georgian Bay region. The blaze destroyed several businesses and damaged the lucrative tourism industry. It was a difficult time for the community but Wasaga Beach has hardly missed a beat since renovations were completed. Wasaga Beach is uniquely situated. The bustling beach city, which may be the closest thing Canada has to anything resembling Daytona Beach or Fort Lauderdale, is located between two UNESCO Biosphere Reserves — the Georgian Bay Littoral and Niagara Escarpment.
Why This Beach Rocks: For high school students from the surrounding areas, Wasaga is the ultimate hangout and the place to go for good times. Wasaga is the world’s longest freshwater beach (14 km). The provincial park that bears its name has eight beach areas. Great events throughout the year include the Wasaga Beach Fest (June 22-23), Wasaga Beach Short Film Festival (May 21 to October 15), and Wasaga Beach Blues Fest (September 13-15).

3. Brady’s Beach, Bamfield, British Columbia

Location174 km west of Nanaimo and 130 km south of Tofino
Website: www.bamfieldchamber.com/main.html
Interesting Facts: An Alberta investor named Jack Purdy is working on a $60-million plan to boost Bamfield’s tourism infrastructure, meaning this mostly unknown gem of a community is likely to be very well known in a few years. Brady’s Beach is a secluded place on the Pacific Ocean, accessible only by ferry, float plane or an unpaved logging road. Intrigued to visit this beach? Aim to be there from July 6-14, when the Music By The Sea festival takes place.
Why This Beach Rocks: Surrounded by the Pacific Rim National Park, the ocean, government-owned land and First Nations territory, Bamfield is about as enclosed and intimate a community as you will find in Canada. Brady’s Beach benefits from that topography and political structure. It features rugged coastline, fresh water, and scuba diving, and is close to the Barkley Sound islands, populated by sea lions and bald eagles.
Vacay.ca Managing Editor Adrian Brijbassi says: “Brady’s Beach in Bamfield, a funny little place that Garrison Keillor or Richard Russo could go to town with, is a British Columbian beauty with many of the hallmarks of the legendary beach-to-end-all-beaches: It’s hard to reach and nearly unheard of; has not one café, chain hotel, Starbucks or McDonald’s near it; and possesses the ability to put your mind in a place you might only be able to reach with hard drugs.” Read more about Brady’s Beach

4. Ingonish Beach, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Location: 127 km north of Sydney, Cape Breton’s largest city
Website: ingonish.com
Interesting Facts: A natural barrier at this beach separates the salt water from the Atlantic and the fresh water streaming in from rivers on the island, allowing swimmers the unusual choice of dipping into either the ocean or a lake. The beach is extremely popular with Nova Scotians because of the warm water and its spaciousness.
Why This Beach Rocks: Scenic cruises and whale watching are also available. Along with the variety of swimming options, the area on the Cabot Trail also offers both salt-water and fresh-water fishing.

Read about how to spend a Great Canadian Weekend on the Cabot Trail — including a stop at Ingonish Beach

5. Long Beach, Tofino, British Columbia

Location: 189 km west of Nanaimo on Highway 4
Website: www.longbeachmaps.com
Interesting Facts: Twenty-thousand grey whales migrate up this coast each spring and summer. Whale-watching tours operate from Tofino and nearby Ucluelet. Word of warning though — this area gets lots of rain, as it is in a temperate rainforest. July to September are the best months to arrive.
Why This Beach Rocks: Storm watching, whale watching … this beach has all kinds of thrills, whether you’re in the water or not. The longest sandy beach on Vancouver Island, with 16.6 km of pristine sand washed by a cool pounding surf, Long Beach offers eye-popping scenic views. Long Beach is in a stunning environment, running alongside the Pacific Rim National Park and in sight of the enchanting Wickaninnish Inn.
Vacay.ca West Coast Sports Editor Miguel Strother says: “Surfing in the Pacific on the Canadian west coast, as cold as it sounds, might just be one of the most beautiful things to do anywhere in the world.” Read more about surfing in Tofino

6. Grand Beach Provincial Park, Manitoba

Location: 100 km north of Winnipeg on Highway 59
Website: www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/parks/popular_parks/central/grand.html
Interesting Facts: Living on Lake Winnipeg, Grand Beach Provincial Park includes 3 km of beautiful landscape. Some of the dunes near this beach are 12 metres high. The beloved boardwalk that runs along the beach was built in the 1930s — a great place to go for a sunset stroll. The family will enjoy tons of activities, including beach volleyball.
Why This Beach Rocks: Berries, baby … and lot’s of them! While you enjoy a long hike on this beautiful beach, you can pick berries  along the way. You’ll find Saskatoon berries ripening toward the end of June, and Chokecherries and Blueberries are ripe by August.

7. Havre-Aubert Beach (Sandy Hook), Iles de la Madeleine (Magdalen Islands), Quebec

Location: On an island, 20 km north of Nova Scotia
Website: http://www.tourismeilesdelamadeleine.com/en/activities-attractions/beachs/havre-aubert-beach-sandy-hook/
Interesting Facts: Catch a plane, take a cruise from Montreal or the daily ferry from Souris, PEI. This beach features 12 golden kilometres of beautiful sandy beach, with a view of Entry Island from Bout du Banc Point. A great place to disappear and be creative — no wonder you’ll find so many artists, especially sand artists, flocking to this community. In August, the water temperature will top 20 Celsius degrees (68 Fahrenheit).
Why This Beach Rocks: One big reason — one of the world’s best sandcastle contests, the Concours de Châteaux de Sable (August 9-11, 2013).

8. Parlee Beach, Shediac, New Brunswick

Location32 km north of Moncton on Highway 15
Website: www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca/Products/P/ParleeBeachProvincialPark.aspx
Interesting Facts: Overlooking the Northumberland Strait, which separates New Brunswick and Nova Scotia from Prince Edward IslandParlee Beach Provincial Park is convenient for families, campers and RV owners. It has 190 campsites. Away from the beach, you’ll find the world’s largest lobster sculpture, a roadside attraction in Shediac.
Why This Beach Rocks: The salt water is warm and the beach is close to a community, making it easy for visitors to enjoy the restaurants and other amenities in the town.

9. Martinique Beach, East Petpeswick, Nova Scotia

Location: 61 km east of Halifax
Website: www.novascotia.com/en/home/thingstoseeanddo/listingdetails.aspx/martinique-beach-provincial-park/1745
Interesting Facts: Five kilometres of beach to picnic, BBQ and play on. This area is a home for several different species of birds, and is a protected area for the piping plover, a bird you have probably never heard of before. If you’re lucky, you may be able to get a good look at friendly seal, who will occasionally buzz the shoreline to give appreciative gawkers a look. Another reason people love to visit this beach is for diving, where water temperature rises to as high as 18 Celsius degrees (64 Fahrenheit) in late summer.
Why This Beach Rocks: A beautiful beach and a bird sanctuary is one of the attractions. The loud waves and gorgeous sandy expanse attract surfers, beachcombers and swimmers from around the globe.

10. Sandbanks, Prince Edward County, Ontario

Location: 98 km west of Kingston on Highway 401
Website: prince-edward-county.com/sandbanks-provincial-park-beaches/
Interesting Facts: Everything a beach lover wants can be found at Sandbanks, including windsurfing, boating and wonderful swimming opportunities. Visitors can also indulge in several great (and tasty) events and fairs, featuring wine, maple syrup and cheese — not to mention antiques, fishing, bluegrass music and quilts. Two hiking routes that will please active travellers are the Woodlands Trail and the Cedar Sands Trail.
Why This Beach Rocks: On the shores of Lake Ontario, Sandbanks features golden dunes that form two of the largest freshwater sandbars in the world. With more than 549 campsites in the surrounding provincial park, Sandbanks is a great spot for all kinds of summer activities.


About the Author

Vacay
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Vicky is the worldly publisher of Vacay.ca. Having graduated from McGill University in Montreal, she has set about building a talented team of travel experts to deliver to you words and images of the very best places to see and experience in Canada. Based in Yorkville in Toronto, Vicky regularly jet sets around Canada — be sure to catch up with her when she's in your part of the country.

  • Tiffany

    Clam Harbour Beach on the Eastren Shore of Nova Scotia is also an amazing beach. I had my wedding photos done on Martinique Beach, but prefer Clam Harbour for swimming.

    • http://vacay.ca/Vacay2011 Vicky Vacay

      Thanks for the great tip, Tiffany. We will be sure to check out Clam Harbour!

      Have a wonderful Canada Day weekend!

      Vicky

  • E.

    I just visited Basin Head beach in PEI for the first time last weekend. All I can say is, WOW! It is incredible. I used to live in Ontario near Wasaga Beach and it has nothing on Basin Head here in PEI. It’s very scenic with PEI’s red cliffs on one side and lush greenery on the other. Basin Head is a ton of fun for the whole family. There’s a play park for kids, lots of sandbars so it doesn’t get deep too quickly, an ice cream place, and then there’s jumping into the little canal for adults (…which you’re technically not allowed to do) and it was SO fun!. I would certainly agree that it’s the best beach I’ve ever been to in Canada. Can’t wait to go back!

  • judyolive

    note about basinhead beach, the community STOPPED the PEI government from putting in a water slide, they wanted to keep the beach as natural as possible. there is lots to do with the water and the sand, like beach volleyball and of course jumping off the bridge.

  • Bob

    Basin Head is incredible, I’ve been to some wonderful Florida beaches but Basin Head PEI is tops, I really liked all the beaches on PEI, Cavendish, Brackley, Stanhope are all great mentions!

    • Bob

      …oh and Pamure Island Beach, PEI I think it’s called, that was real nice!!!

    • http://vacay.ca/Vacay2011 Vicky Vacay

      Hi Bob,
      I couldn’t agree with you more. Basin Head is one spectacular piece of sand and fun. Be sure to share more of your stories of your journeys through Canada!

      Vicky

  • lancecove

    I’m surprised that the beach in St Vincent’s, St Mary’s Bay, NL isn’t top on this list!!!! You can stand on this pebbly beach and humpbacks are 10 FEET from shore!!!! There is a sandbar locally called “the gut” separates fresh water from salt water, and the Holyrood Pond (fresh water side) is 23km long, 1km wide, and is the habitat for over 30 species of fish!!! and when the “gut” is opened to let the pond water level drop, there is an infusion of salt water into the pond! Plus this pond is fed by 8 rivers, has 2 small islands on it, magnificent wildlife along its shores, the water is pristine as is the entire area around the Pond. On the Atlantic Ocean side between late June/early July the humpbacks visit and you can stand on shore and be wowed by their beauty and their closeness:-)

    • http://vacay.ca/Vacay2011 Vicky Vacay

      Hi Lance,
      Wow! You’ve sold me on St. Vincent’s! We will have one of our Vacay.ca team members check it out this summer. Be sure to share photos of those humpbacks when you see them!

      Thanks,
      Vicky!

 
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