Now that summer is officially here, many thoughts turn to sun and surf.
Yes, summer’s a beach and that fact is backed up by a poll from TripAdvisor.com saying the most popular getaway choice is a beach trip. Bring out the best beach bum in you with the following suggestions.
A day at the beach
Ontarians don’t have to travel far to find a great stretch of sand in the summertime.
In fact, there are 106,844 kilometres of protected and maintained beaches in Ontario Parks.
The longest and most popular is Wasaga Beach Provincial Park on Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay that stretches for 14 kilometres.
An upcoming summer event from Aug. 17 to 19 is Wasaga Under Siege: A War of 1812 Experience to mark the 200th anniversary of the historic battle.
Hundreds of people will re-enact the war involving the U.S., Britain and Canada (First Nations) that resulting in the sinking of the British schooner Nancy in the Nottawasaga River.
Wasaga Beach is the first provincial park in Canada to be awarded the Blue Flag designation for its efforts to manage the shoreline to meet strict criteria for water quality, environmental education, environmental management, and safety and services.
“Many park beaches remain well-kept secrets including Neys Provincial Park, on Lake Superior,” said Lori Waldbrook of Ontario Parks.
Even though the Group of Seven painters immortalized the landscape at Neys on canvas, not many people know that it has one of the finest beaches in northern Ontario, she said.
Closer to home, the beach at Inverhuron Provincial Park on Lake Huron is also waiting to be discovered. Park campgrounds have reopened after being closed for many years.
On Lake Erie, there are nine Ontario Parks with beaches, with “one of the best” being Long Point Provincial Park.
The park is part of a massive sand spit and is a designated World UNESCO biosphere.
Sand dunes at Long Point rival the ones at Sandbanks, a busy provincial park on Lake Ontario.
“Few people know that another nice beach is close to Sandbanks: North Beach Provincial Park, a day-use park, that’s a ribbon of sand sheltering tiny North Bay from Lake Ontario,” Waldbrook said.
In the past year, there have been several infrastructure improvements for beach park ecosystems.
These include the Friends of the Pinery constructing a rolling boardwalk to help protect the famous dunes at the park south of Grand Bend.
The “friends” are now working on funding to make a wheelchair accessible boardwalk that will eventually connect two picnic areas to the beach.
Sandbanks Provincial Park, south of Belleville and marking its 50th anniversary this year, has the new Dunes Trail.
Other spots include Sibbald Point Provincial Park on Lake Simcoe with great fishing and swimming, Bronte Creek Provincial Park, between Burlington and Oakville, and Darlington Provincial Park, east of Oshawa, with a “nice beach.”
Park details at ontarioparks.com.
Go wet and wild
Along with the parks are numerous spots to get wet and go wild this summer.
- Bingemans on the Grand River in Kitchener offers overnight camping as well as the Big Splash Waterpark. It has a heated wave pool and slippery, wild rides including Boomerango, hurtling down a “huge drop” in a raft, pipe slides, the Cyclone, Big Squirt, Full Throttle, Torpedo Bay and more. bingemans.com; (519) 744-1555
- Wild Water Kingdom in Brampton is one of Canada’s largest waterparks and has many liquid attractions such as water slides, fun fountains, wave pool, lazy rivers and numerous pools for children. Featured attractions include Midnight Express, the Abyss, Nightrider, Cyclone, Devil's Drop, White Lightning, the Cliff and the Big Tipper. wildwaterkingdom.com; 1-866-794-WILD (9453)
- Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan has SplashWorks with more than seven-million litres of heated water fun. Get soaked with the Plunge, Supersoaker, Lazy River, Pumphouse and in what is billed as “Canada's largest wave pool. canadaswonderland.com
- Fallsview Indoor Waterpark in Niagara Falls has a “mammoth play area,” 4,500-litre tipping bucket, six-storey-high waterslides, full-sized wave pool and plunge bowl. fallsviewwaterpark.com