For a place without a sun-and-sand reputation, Canada certainly has an abundance of shorelines, stretching farther than in any other country in the world. Add to this the thousands of kilometres of lakeshores big and small, and you have a waterfront scene that could take lifetimes to explore. Here are our picks for the best beaches in Canada — those with the warmest water, the best sand, surf and swimming, the tiny hidden gems and the bountiful aquatic wonders, all right under our noses, from coast to coast.
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Îles de la Madeleine, Quebec
A chain of islands set in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, this whole place is one big, beautiful beach. The 300-kilometre stretch of sand is Quebec’s premier spot for kitesurfing, windsurfing, scuba diving and just kicking back. Nearby restaurants have developed “regional tables” using local food products, not to mention fresh lobster, scallops and crab. Try to secure a room at the gorgeous four-star Domaine du Vieux Couvent. Winds and whitecaps mean strong currents, so keep an eye on the weather.
Wow factor: Golden sand and jewel-toned surf? It’s almost like vacationing much further south.
Where it’s at: Take the daily ferry from Souris, P.E.I., or hop on a Jazz Air flight from Montreal.