The Rocky Mountains, Niagara Falls, Banff National Park — there’s no shortage of beloved tourist destinations in Canada. But most of us miss out on some of the best our neighbor to the north has to offer, simply because we’d never think to put “beach vacation” and “Canada” in the same sentence. That’s why, just in time for that last quick getaway of summer, we’ve made a list of the most stunning Canadian beaches you’ve never heard of. Who knew sun, sand, and surf could be so majestic?
1. Wasaga Beach, Ontario
Where to stay: Hollywood Cottages
Wasaga Beach is a town in Ontario that also boasts the world’s longest freshwater beach, running nearly nine miles along the Georgian Bay. The town hosts outdoor events at the brand-new Main Street Market, which, like the adorable Hollywood Cottages, is a stone’s throw from the water. When you want a break from sunbathing, you can stroll over to the market to shop and grab a gelato, some BBQ, or a beer. On Wednesdays, they have outdoor movie nights, and on weekends, there’s live music. Fun fact for bird lovers: Wasaga Beach is a migratory destination for the endangered bird species, the Piping Plover.
2. Bennett Lake, Yukon
Where to stay: Northern Lights Resort and Spa
This small, white-sand beach near Whitehorse, YK is uniquely positioned to give beach-goers water warm enough to swim in while simultaneously offering a gorgeous view of snow-capped mountains. Bennett Lake and the surrounding community of Carcross (originally known as Caribou Crossing), are hotspots for history buffs, due to their importance in the Klondike Gold Rush. At Bennett Lake, Gold-Rushers built or purchased rafts to transport their goods down the Yukon River to Dawson City’s gold fields. The three prospectors who started the Rush are buried in Carcross. As a bonus to the beautiful beach and historical significance, you can visit the Guinness World Record-holding Carcross Desert less than two miles away. It’s actually the world’s smallest desert. A note on the Northern Lights Resort and Spa: A stunning place to lodge year-round, if you decide to come back in the winter, the resort offers Aurora Borealis packages to make for the trip of a lifetime.
3. Singing Sands, Basin Head Provincial Park, P.E.I.
Where to stay: McLean House Inn
“Singing Sands” isn’t some poetic metaphor. It’s a literal description of what makes Basin Head Beach so magical. When you walk along the sandy edge of Prince Edward Islands, the beach seems to sing. (Nope, we’re not kidding.) It’s a phenomenon scientists haven’t been able to explain, and makes Singing Sands one of P.E.I.’s most popular beaches. Part of Basin Head Provincial Park, the beach is supervised during the day, and has the added conveniences of on-site bathrooms and showers, a play area for kids, and food on site. If you want to expand your beach getaway into a nature-lover’s dream vacation, look into the Points East Coastal Drive, which stops at Basin Head, along with several historic lighthouses, the 1732 settlement Roma at Three National Historic site, and much more.
4. Ingonish Beach, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
Where to stay: Castle Rock Country Inn
Between the warm, balmy temperature of the water and the chance to swim in both fresh and saltwater, Ingonish Beach is a must-see for any Nova-Scotian visitor. A natural barrier at Ingonish separates the Atlantic’s ocean waters from the river water that trickles into the aptly named Freshwater Lake. In addition to the unique beach-and-lake combo, Cape Breton offers whale-watching tours, scenic cruises, sea kayaking, and mountain biking, Castle Rock Country Inn is centrally located, which makes navigated these activities a breeze. The boutique inn also happens to overlook the beautiful Middle Head Peninsula, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Cape Breton Highlands, for a truly incomparable vista.