Canada is known for its many natural wonders, yes—but beaches? Common opinion suggests they’re just not really our “thing”. While it’s true that the water our nation is usually associated with is actually ice, it’s not like Canada’s best shoreline is a Broken Social Scene song. In fact, each province and territory has stunning, often sandy beaches to visit come the Great Thaw (a.k.a “summer”). See them for yourself.
Strathcona Provincial Park
This lake is situated within 250,000 hectares of untamed wilderness in Vancouver Island’s Strathcona Provincial Park; sublime views make it a favourite destination for hikers year-round.
Cameron Lake’s temperate water and pretty picnic tables make it a prime locale for swimming and family barbeques on warm summer evenings.
Long Beach, Cox Bay, Chesterman Beach—it’s hard to pick a favourite beach in Tofino, British Columbia. Best to hit all the stops along the Pacific Rim Highway.
See what we mean? Tofino certainly has its share of great beaches—at Tonquin Beach, you can lounge amid arbutus trees (unique to this area of North America).
Spruce and pine dot the shores of the azure-blue Maligne Lake in Alberta, and while swimming’s not recommended in the glacier-fed lake, fishing, hiking, and wildlife-spotting certainly are.
Paignton Beach is an oasis within Saskatchewan’s Prince Albert Provincial Park. The beach sees locals picnic, swim (the lake is ice-free end of May), and enjoy digging toes into infinite sand.
Manitoba’s Grand Beach is a sprawl of white sand under a trademark Prairie-blue sky. The sixth largest lake in the country, it’s known as “the great Prairie Sea”.
Blue Flag beach
Southwest Ontario’s Canatara Park is a Blue Flag beach—one of only 26 in Canada—a designation that acknowledges strict adherents to water quality and environmental standards.
Also a Blue Flag beach in Ontario’s Southwest, Port Stanley offers a gradual, sandy drop off, warm water, and picture-perfect shorelines.
Quebec’s Magdalen Islands, made up of eight distinct communities, flaunt ragged coastlines akin to Australia’s Twelve Apostles.
New Brunswick’s Hopewell Rocks boasts complex caves and arches that have been carved into the red stone coast over centuries, and can be explored during low tide.
Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia is idyllic: quintessential coastal homes perch on jagged shores with expansive views of the Atlantic and the pillowed sky above. An aimless wander is a must.
Sandy shores meet the just-under five-kilometre boardwalk at Cape Breton’s Inverness Beach, from which grass-covered rolling hills can be admired under a windy, speckled Maritime sky.
Cape John Beach
Nova Scotia’s Cape John Beach is a protected three-hectare reserve that juts out from the mainland and overlooks Megs Cove.
Basin Head Provincial Park
The Basin Head Provincial Park in Prince Edward Island is favoured among locals; the bleached sand beaches are made up of grains so fine they squeak—or sing—as you walk over them.
Western Brook Pond
Although there are no designated beaches at the Western Brook Pond in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland, one might be encouraged to find a quiet, private shore of their own.
Labrador’s Wonderstrands is a lesser-known beach on the mainland. It is secluded, but the effort is worth it—pristine 54-kilometre-long sand beaches await intrepid explorers.
The Maritime colours might shine their brightest in the Avalon Region, in eastern Newfoundland: the rising sun greets brightly-painted sheds, lumbering blue icebergs, and grazing caribou.
Nunavut’s Naujaat is a village at the northwestern limit of Hudson Bay. It resides on the Arctic Circle and from the chilly majestic shores, polar bears, walruses, and whales can be spotted.
Great Slave Lake
Northwest Territories’ Great Slave Lake might be North America’s deepest lake, but eyes during summer months should be looking up: the midnight sun is hauntingly beautiful.
Hay River Territorial Park
Hay River Territorial Park’s beach in the Northwest Territories evokes images of shores farther south—but locals and visitors flock every year to enjoy sun, sand, infinitely-blue views.
Visitors to Yukon’s Kluane Lake will be charmed by a land of extremes—Canada’s highest peak and largest icefield reside here, and North America’s most diverse grizzly population, too.
This article was originally published June 30, 2016.