Southwestern Ontario isn’t exactly known for its abundance of outdoor activities. It’s a flat expanse of farmland; the sky uninterrupted but for the occasional wind turbine and grain silo. But although it doesn’t have mountains or oceans, hiking or paddling, there is one thing the region excels in: beaches. Lots and lots of beaches. In this post, I’ll introduce you to the best beaches in Southwestern Ontario, all of which I’ve visited at some point or another over my 20+ years living in London Ontario.

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Map of the Best Beaches in Southwestern Ontario

I’ve labeled the each of the Southwestern Ontario beaches mentioned in the post on the map below.


Best Beaches in Southwestern Ontario: Lake Erie

Main Beach, Port Stanley

Distance from London: 37 minutes

Easily one of the most popular beaches in Southwestern Ontario, Port Stanley is an excellent choice. There are beach volleyball nets, quite a few restaurants in town and lots of parking. GT’s on the Beach, as the name suggests, is right on the beach and I go there for a cheeseburger and, since coming of age, a margarita or sangria every time I go.

As you move west on the beach you’ll find tons of houses and cottages. My understanding is that you can still walk along the water in this part, but you can’t go towards the houses.

Little Beach in Port Stanley

Distance from London: 37 minutes

Little Beach is just to the east of The Port Stanley Pier and is an alternative to Main Beach. Unlike Main Beach, there are no houses or restaurants on this beach. So if you like how close Port Stanley is to London, but you don’t like how busy or built up it is, Little Beach might be more your style!

Port Dover

Distance from London: 1 hour 30 minutes

This is one of the few beaches on The Best Beaches in Southwestern Ontario that I haven’t been to yet. But since Port Dover is like the Palm Beach of Canada, I had to include it – there are actually a few palm trees there! From the photos, it’s clear the beach is absolutely gorgeous. It’s long and wide and covered in smooth, pebble-free sand. If you want a break from the sand, you can walk along a long pier that extends into the water and ends in a small lighthouse.

The Crepe House is a short walk from the beach – I haven’t been to it myself but damn it looks delicious. Read the menu – I had no idea crepes could be done so many ways.

Long Point Provincial Park

Distance from London: 1 hour 30 minutes

My family used to regularly camp at Long Point and I remember having so much fun playing on the beach and in the sand dunes. There are four campgrounds here, most of which can accommodate car camping and tent trailers, and a couple can accommodate RVs.

The main activity in Long Point is hanging out on the 1.5 km stretch of sandy beach. There’s also a significant migrating bird and waterfowl population, and the park is part of a World Biosphere Reserve. If you’re looking for the best beaches in Southwestern Ontario for camping, I think Long Point (or Pinery, listed below) is your best bet.

Point Pelee Provincial Park

Distance from London: 2 hours 15 minutes

Point Pelee isn’t your conventional Lake Erie beach. You won’t find tents or umbrellas, hot dog stands or even anyone swimming. Point Pelee is a long sandy outcrop that is the most southern point in Canada. And while the beach may not be good for lounging around, there are quite a few activities around here. For example, when I was last here we rented a canoe and paddled through a marshy grassland area and out to a separate sandy beach far from other people. After we were done with the canoe, we went to visit the point (which slightly moves and changes shape with the tides).


Best Beaches in Southwestern Ontario: Lake Huron

Bayfield

Distance from London: 1 hour 10 minutes

I have spent so many summer days in and around Bayfield, largely due to having so many friends with cottages around here. A lot of the beach north and south of the town has cottages and public access is hard to come by, however, closer to town there is Main Beach, South Beach and Houston Heights Beach (you can read descriptions of each beach here).

Personally, I found the beach a little too pebbly for my liking. But considering how many other people we’d see on the sand and in the water, I appeared to be the only one with reservations.

The town of Bayfield is cute too, and there’s an excellent restaurant called Black Dog Village Pub & Bistro which we went to every time I was in Bayfield with my parents.

Grand Bend

Distance from London: 55 minutes

Grand Bend is like the big brother to Bayfield; a little further south, this beach town is quite a bit larger than Bayfield and boasts more shops, restaurants and of course, more beach line. Although you can’t see it in the photos below, Grand Bend has a huge expanse of sandy beach and a little pier and is usually dotted with beach chairs and umbrellas. There’s ample parking and facilities at the sand’s edge (you can read more about the facilities here).

Sauble Beach

Distance from London: 2 hours 40 minutes

Here is a fun fact: My first memory is from Sauble Beach. We were staying at a cottage near Sauble Beach and there was a massive lightning storm right on the water – my first memory is seeing the lightning dance across the sky from the cottage.

Anyways, Sauble Beach is the second longest freshwater beach in the world (right after nearby Wasaga). It’s located at the base of Bruce Peninsula, on the west side, and features an expansive stretch of sandy beach. There are plenty of facilities, like parking and washrooms, and the town has tons of summer-y treats. Make sure to check out Luscious Bakery Deli Cafe and The Beach Burger (there’s a nearby ice cream shoppe and cafe too – maybe don’t come to Sauble if you’re dieting…).

Before planning a trip to Sauble Beach, I also recommend checking out the official Sauble Beach tourism website.

Point Farms Provincial Park

Distance from London: 1 hour 30 minutes

Point Farms is a provincial park that offers both stunning beaches and camping, so if you want to get away for a beach-y weekend, this is perfect. I used to camp at Point Farms with my family and it was always a ton of fun.

There are two campgrounds, with a ton of individual campsites in each. They can accommodate just about every style of camping (tent, tent-trailer, RV, etc). The campgrounds have comfort stations, playgrounds, laundry, some short hiking trails and are near the beach.

Located on a bluff, the beach is wonderfully sandy and offers excellent Lake Huron sunsets. Since it’s in a provincial park, there aren’t any food options nearby.

Wasaga Beach

Distance from London: 3 hours

Wasaga Beach has a reputation for being a bit of a party place for university and college students, but did you know that Wasaga Beach is the longest freshwater beach in the world? While the town of Wasaga Beach and the beach adjacent to cottages and restaurants can give a bit rowdy, there’s a ton of beaches protected by the provincial park that is perfect for relaxing and swimming if you want something more chill.

You can actually see what Wasaga Beach looks like at any given time by checking out their beach cams! These live stream the beach conditions, so you’ll know what the weather is looking like and how busy the beaches are before you get there.

Canatara Beach & Park

Distance from London: 1 hour 15 minutes

Canatara Beach & Park is a lesser-known beach I haven’t personally been to, but it’s an excellent beach for swimming, birding and many other activities. There is a 3000 ft stretch of sandy beach and tons of bird species (warblers, sandpipers, ducks and falcons). Plus there are playgrounds, an animal farm, a BMX bike track and even a wakeboarding park nearby.

All this makes Canatara an excellent option if you want a beach that’s more than a beach!

Pinery Provincial Park

Distance from London: 55 minutes

If you’d like to camp on the shores of Lake Huron, you can’t do better than visited Pinery Provincial Park. I used to come here with my family for weekend car camping trips and they still go (and sometimes they even stay in a yurt!).

The Pinery boasts 10 km of sandy beaches and 10 different hiking trails, ranging in length from 0.8 – 3 km. There are sand dunes that are super fun to play in, especially if you have kids. There are three different campgrounds for car camping. Each campground offers different facilities which you can read about here.

Since you’re in a provincial park, there’s aren’t burger joints or ice cream stands on the beach, however you do have a fire pit at your campsite, over which you could cook up some great camping meals.

In my opinion, this is easily the best, if not one of the best beaches in Southern Ontario!

Ipperwash Beach

Distance from London: 1 hour

Ipperwash is another beach on Lake Huron and part of Lambton Shores. I like to think of it as a cross between Grand Bend and Pinery; you don’t have the busyness and commercialization of Grand Bend, however, you also aren’t in a provincial park so restaurants are a lot closer. Sweet Bites & Ice Cream is very tasty, and only a quick drive from the main beaches.

A lot of the area around Ipperwash is private property, so you’ll want to read this announcement from the Municipality of Lambton Shores about the location of access points and parking.

Point Clark Beach / Station Beach / Inverhuron Beach

Distance from London: 1 hour 50 minutes

There are a couple of beaches in and around Kincardine that I haven’t personally been too, but are worth calling out. Point Clark Beach is a small beach just south of Kincardine; it has a quaint lighthouse and gets more turbulent water than what you see on Lake Huron beaches further south. Station Beach is right inside Kincardine and is the most developed; there is a boardwalk, and it’s in close proximity to shops and restaurants. Station Beach is also becoming popular for surfing the Great Lakes – it’s even in the top 9 destinations for freshwater surfing. Finally, there is Inverhuron Beach which is just north of Kincardine and is a smaller beach with a rougher current but offers white sand and fewer people.


Tips for Visiting Beaches in Southwest Ontario

Beware the Under-Toe: Some beaches have under-toes, which can pull you away from shore. These beaches usually have signs indicating this; ensure you read all signs and follow guidelines.

Not all Beaches Have Lifeguards: Check the beach’s website to learn if there are lifeguards; many of the beaches don’t have lifeguards. This means you should always keep an eye on kids and never swim alone.

Bring Sun Protection: Wear sunscreen, bring a big sun hat and even an umbrella if it’s going to be a sunny day. The beaches rarely offer shade, so you’ll want to be protected by the warm and unrelenting sun.

No Alcohol: Most of the beaches prohibit the use of alcohol on the beach. Some of the beaches in Southwestern Ontario have patios / bars adjacent to the beach where you can drink while keeping your feet on the sand.

Leave No Trace: Please dispose of all garbage and leave your beach spot better than you found it!

Beware Seagulls: The beaches that are busy or in close proximity to restaurants/bars will often have seagulls. Please don’t leave food out or feed the seagulls. It makes them more aggressive.

Have Fun! Southwestern Ontario may not have mountains, forests or Muskoka-style lakes, but it does have beaches. So make the most of them and have a great time!


Southwestern Ontario Beaches – Final Thoughts

I hope you have found this post helpful and have a better idea of which Southwestern Ontario beaches you want to visit next! My personal favourites are Port Stanely, Pinery Provincial Park and Sauble Beach. Though any of these beaches is sure to offer a good time.

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