With Canada Day just behind us and summer finally here, it’s time to celebrate the natural beauty at our fingertips. It’s easy for outsiders to forget our home and native land has amazing summer venues to compliment our epic winters. But with multiple ocean coasts and some of the world’s best freshwater lakes, it’s a shame not to think of Canada as the perfect place to lay on the beach this time of year, especially when the country is home to beaches as unique as the ones below.
Singing Sands, Souris, Prince Edward Island
Size: 8 kilometres of beach.
Location: Basin Head Provincial Park.
What makes it unique: The sand sings! According to tourism and visitor testimonials, this P.E.I. beach makes a “squeaky singsong noise” when you walk on it. Although scientists have said they’re not completely sure what causes it, studies have shown that spherical quartz sand can produce a similar noise under pressure.
Fun fact: P.E.I. is known to have the warmest beaches north of the Carolinas.
Ingonish Beach, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
Size: A large stretch of tree-and-rock-lined waters with lush, green rolling hills reminiscent of Anne of Green Gables.
Location: Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
What makes it unique: This beach has access to salt and freshwater. A barachois—a term used to describe a cove separated by a barrier of rocks—has been naturally forming in Ingonish waters as waves bring in rounded cobblestones. This wall has left the beach with two natural pools: the salty Atlantic and the freshwater cove.
Fun fact: The beach offers the option to not only swim in either fresh water or salt water, but you can also fish in both, which provides a wider variety of species.
Grand Beach, Manitoba
Location: Grand Beach Provincial Park.
Size: 3 kilometres of natural beachy landscape, with dunes reaching 12 metres high.
What makes it unique: People from Winnipeg and the surrounding area have been trekking to Grand Beach for nearly a century. The beach became a popular day trip spot after the Canadian National Railway built a line and set up the resort along Grand Beach in 1917. The Grand Beach Ballroom was considered one of the best and largest dance halls in the Commonwealth until it was destroyed in a fire in 1950. The beach now has full-service campgrounds, a boardwalk, and berry-lined paths fresh for picking.
Fun fact: In the 1980s, Grand Beach was named one of Playboy magazine’s Top-10 Beaches.
Plage de la Grande Échouerie (Grand Échouerie Beach), Quebec
Location: Magdalen Islands (Iles de la Madeleine), off the northern coast of P.E.I.
Size: 8.5 kilometre stretch of sand. (Combined, the Magdalen Islands are home to more than 300 kilometres of beach.)
What makes it unique: Plage de la Grande Echouerie is one of a dozen islands that make up the Magdalen Islands and the cluster has been described as a Canadian archipelago reminiscent of the Greek Islands.
Fun fact: When the tide is low, visitors have the opportunity to explore the surrounding caves and cliffs.
Bennett Beach, Carcross, Yukon
Location: Along Bennett Lake, which straddles the British Columbia-Yukon border.
Size: 2 kilometres of soft, white sand.
What makes it unique: In the summer, the Yukon sees 20 hours of daylight and temperatures can reach above 30 degrees Celsius. While hanging out on Bennett Beach, visitors are graced with panoramic views of rugged, snow-capped coastal mountains.
Fun fact: The nearby Carcross Desert has been named the “World’s Smallest Desert” by Guinness World Records.
Wasaga Beach, Ontario
Location: North of Toronto on the southern shores of Georgian Bay.
Size: 14 kilometres of sandy beach.
What makes it unique: It’s tough to call Wasaga Beach unique when it’s arguably the most popular beach in Ontario. But Wasaga Beach truly is unique for some very fundamental reasons: a) The stretch of Wasaga along the Georgian Bay is the longest freshwater beach in the world; b) Wasaga Beach is Canada’s closest version of an American-style beach city. The heavily populated, teen and 20-something party area of Beach 1 can have a Jersey Shore feel and has a boardwalk that includes bars, tattoo parlours, car shows, clothing stores, go karts, paintball, and often a midway set-up.
Fun fact: If you aren’t feeling the glitz and glamour of Beach 1, Wasaga is separated into eight areas of beach that become more secluded as you get farther away. Start at Beach 5 and work your way toward Beach 8 if you’re looking for a more private, naturally textured beach to yourself.
Brady’s Beach, Bamfield, British Columbia
Location: Vancouver Island’s Pacific Rim National Park.
Size: Bamfield is small, with a population of approximately 200 people. The beach is a secluded stretch of hard-packed sand, greenery, and rocks.
What makes it unique: Seclusion. The beach is only accessible by ferry, float plane, a 90-km drive down an unpaved logging road or a week-long hike followed by a $5 water-taxi ride across the inlet. With no cafe, chain hotel, Starbucks or McDonald’s nearby, Brady Beach has been compared to the secluded and dreamy landscapes offered in far-off destinations like Thailand.
Fun/not-so-fun fact: Apparently investors have been circling the area with ideas to support tourism, so you’ll want to head there soon if you’re hoping to beat the masses.
Sandbanks, Prince Edward County, Ontario
Location: Sandbanks Provincial Park.
Size: The beaches at Sandbanks Provincial Park have a combined 1200 hectares of sand that stretches nearly 20 kilometres. The Sandbanks is one of three natural sand beaches in the park.
What makes it unique: With dunes reaching 60 metres high, this beach is supposedly the largest freshwater sand bar in the world. If checking somewhere off your bucket list for the sheer size of the dunes isn’t your thing (though they’re really cool), Prince Edward County is a natural vantage point for the artisanal-loving camper or beach-goer. In a region surrounded by lush Ontario land, Prince Edward County hosts tons of festivals, wineries, organic farms, and antiques.
Manitou Beach, Saskatchewan
Location: Along Little Manitou Lake.
Size: The beach itself is very small, as Little Manitou Lake is approximately 22 km long.
What makes it unique: Referred to as “The Dead Sea of Canada,” the shallow waters of Manitou Beach provide a natural spa experience. With five times more salt than the ocean, the buoyancy of the water is said to relieve tension and pain in people who suffer from arthritis or other chronic body pain. Therapeutic minerals in the water include magnesium, potassium, sodium, iron, silica, and sulphur.
Fun fact: The lake’s high salt content exists because there is no outward flow. The lake was created by melted glaciers and is considered terminal (meaning there is no flow to other bodies of water), allowing the salty principles to rest in the water.
Wreck Beach, British Columbia
Location: Near the University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver.
Size: Approximately 8 kilometre.
What makes it unique: It’s hippie paradise. With a rich and vibrant hippie culture, it’s no surprise that the West Coast is home to Canada’s largest and first legal clothing-optional beach. That’s right, a totally nude beach. Good vibes at Wreck Beach date back to the ’70s.
Fun fact: At the moment, the beach has a community and student atmosphere that involves no overseeing security or police force. Not so fun: With a history of technically-illegal-but-nobody-is-paying-attention activities (drinking, smoking, bonfires, recreational drug use), the RCMP has recently voiced interest in setting up a police tent, a move regulars are saying goes against everything the beach stands for.