Canada’s Best–Kept–Secret Beaches


Fifteen spots where you can cool off, keep your distance and find your zen.

This story was originally published in 2020 and was updated in July 2021.

Canada’s best kept secret? Beaches. Soft sand, swimmable lakes and enough room to stretch out to soak it all in. With thousands of waterways across the country, finding the best beach is subjective. This selection of local favourites offers you plenty of options that will ensure you make the most of the warm weather before it’s gone.

July 27, 2021
The sun setting over Brady's Beach in British Columbia
Brady’s Beach, British Columbia.   Photo: Jessica Whelan
  1. Seclusion: Brady’s Beach, British Columbia —

    This west coast, Vancouver Island hideaway south of Tofino rewards anyone willing to make the trek by gravel road, hired boat tour, private boat or float plane. Only the hearty will brave the cold water but if tidal pools, bioluminescent blooms and crashing waves are your jam, you’ll find it hard to leave.

Related: Where to Find Canada’s Most Mesmerizing Turquoise Waters

The shores of Lac La Biche in Alberta are covered in pebbles of various sizes
Lac La Biche, Alberta.   Photo: Erica Scott
  1. Sunset: Boardwalk Beach, Alberta —

    Alberta’s Sir Winston Churchill Provincial park includes several islands in Lac La Biche. Explore the 300–year old forests by day before settling in for the sun show on Boardwalk Beach. Bring a blanket and dig your toes into the soft sand, or take to the water for a view from your kayak or paddleboard.

  2. Space to Roam:  Long Point Beach, Ontario —

    A 40– kilometre sand spit set within a World Biosphere Reserve tends to draw attention, but coming early and sticking to weekdays can net you a prize that’s well worth the effort. Long Point Beach boasts 2 kilometres of sandy beach along the Lake Erie coastline that is perfect for those who prefer to wander.

Cloudy skies over the rock formations of Old Harry Beach in the Magdalene Islands of Quebec
Magdalene Islands, Quebec.   Photo: Paulo Leone
  1. Animal Encounters: Old Harry Beach, Magdalen Islands, Quebec —

    It’s not unusual to spot seals playing in the warm waters here and the location along the East Point National Wildlife Reserve will make bird–watchers giddy. Old Harry’s Beach (La Plage de la Grande Echouerie) bridges two of the inhabited islands in this archipelago which means when you’re ready to explore further, the 8.5 kilometres of beach is only the beginning.

  2. Bucket List:  Basin Head beach, Prince Edward Island —

    With 1,100 kilometres of shoreline, finding a beach on PEI isn’t a problem. Sample a few but don’t miss the “Singing Sands” at Basin Head. The natural quartz sand emits a sound (more cheese curd squeak than soprano) when your feet make contact. That, plus its shallow, warm waters make it a must–visit for families.

A view of Grand Anse Beach through a cave opening in New Brunswick
Grand Anse Beach, New Brunswick.   Photo: Audrey Isabel Chiasson
  1. Historic hideaway: Grand Anse Beach, New Brunswick —

    The charming Grand Anse village nearby was founded in 1808 and the colourful Acadian lighthouses that pepper the coastline make it a popular photography spot. You’ll be tempted to explore, but make sure you take advantage of the beach’s warm saltwater and towering cliff vistas as well.

  2. Picnics on the Ocean Floor: Medford Beach, Nova Scotia —

    The Bay of Fundy is famous for having the world’s highest tides and when they’re out visitors can literally walk on the ocean floor. A well–timed picnic is an option, but don’t miss the chance to explore the red sand beach to find the exposed sandstone stack structures that disappear once the tide returns.

A mix of sandy beaches and grassy plains at Fogo Island's Sandy Cove
Sandy Cove, Fogo Island, Newfoundland.   Photo: Paddy Barry
  1. Double Dips: Sandy Cove, Fogo Island, Newfoundland —

    If you’ve made the trip to Fogo island, you’ve already won. Getting a local to point you to this beach is icing on the cake. The island’s only sand beach sits just outside the town of Tilting. The beach shrinks with the tide, so choose your location carefully. Follow your ocean swim with a freshwater rinse in the nearby brook, then find a spot in the shade to pat yourself on the back.

Strong waves at Apex Beach in Nunavut
Apex Beach, Nunavut.   Photo: Frank Reardon
  1. Rustic Charm: Apex Beach, Nunavut —

    You won’t confuse this rugged beach with one in the Caribbean (temps hit a high of about 12 degrees Celsius in August), but that’s part of its charm. This is the spot from which Iqaluit was built and remnants of the past (including the Hudson’s Bay Company store) await. You probably won’t want to dip more than your toes into Frobisher Bay, but the views from the beach while you sip your coffee feel like you’re standing on top of the world.

Driftwood covers the sands of Hay River beach in the Northwest Territories
Hay River beach, Northwest Territories.   Photo: Backcountry Canada Travel
  1. Night Lights: Hay River beach, Northwest Territories —

    Miles of sand dunes hug the cove of Great Slave Lake – the sixth deepest lake in the world – and on the hottest days, visitors take a dip in the cool waters. But the beach’s main draw is at night. Located in one of the prime Aurora viewing belts, open skies can transform with dancing Northern Lights.

A mother sits with her infant daughter on Army beach in the Yukon
Army beach, Yukon.   Photo: Jennifer Glyka
  1. Rest Stop Respite: Army beach, Yukon —

    There was a time when gold seekers would’ve littered this beach in southern Yukon. These days you’ll find Alaska Highway travellers. The long sandy beach offers picnic tables, a playground and pristine Marsh Lake, where swimming is easy. Fall in love? The campground means you can turn a quick stop into a night or two.


These spots will help you keep your cool

  • Raggedy Ass Waterfalls, N.B. —

    Four fairly easy–to–access waterfalls close to parking with options for swimming and hiking nearby.

  • Three Tier Falls, Junction Creek, Alberta —

    A 7 kilometre hike into backcountry is rewarded with the views, as well as glacier water swimming holes to rinse off in.

  • Tiffany Falls, Ontario —

    Water cascades from 21 metres up into shallow pools that families can splash in. Weekday mornings are your best bet for avoiding the crowds.

  • Manitou Beach, Saskatchewan —

    Manitou is a Cree word meaning “Great Spirit” and it’s how you’ll feel as you float in these mineral dense waters. The high salt content gives it a Dead Sea feel (it’s about half as dense) and diehards swear it cures everything from arthritis to acne.