small homes and buildings along the st. lawrence river

Experience the absolute charm of Kamouraska. (Photo: Getty Images)

Beach Travel

Craving Beach Vibes in Canada? Find Them at 6 Under-the-Radar Beach Towns

Canada might not be known for its beaches, but it still has its share of hidden waterfront gems. If you’re looking for a relaxing day trip filled with swimming and sunbathing, check out some of these charming destinations.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

Kamouraska, Quebec

Several charming villages dot the coastline of the Bas-Saint-Laurent region, less than a two-hour drive from Quebec City. One standout is the resortlike village of Kamouraska.

Start your day at Boulangerie Niemand for fresh pastries. Then head to La Fée Gourmande to tour a chocolate factory and try indulgent chocolates and caramels.

Spend some time along the coast relaxing and taking in views of the St. Lawrence River, islands and the wharf. If you’re feeling active, you can cycle along the St. Lawrence River or go mountain climbing or kayaking.

Back in town, shop in the local boutiques and visit the Kamouraska Regional Museum to learn the history of the area.

White Rock, British Columbia

white rock british columbia
Sail away in White Rock. (Photo: Getty Images)

Just 45 minutes from Vancouver and its suburbs is the town of White Rock and its two pristine beaches. West Beach and East Beach stretch for five miles, making it easy to find a quiet spot on the sand. Get in the water for swimming and paddleboarding — or try your luck at whale watching — and stroll the historic wooden pier for Instagram-worthy photos.

Start your day with coffee and breakfast from one of the many local cafés; Grounds and Greens is great for vegan options. For lunch and dinner, try fresh fish and chips — there are more than eight local restaurants dedicated to the dish. Wrap up your visit on the patio of Ocean Beach bar while watching the sunset.

Cobourg, Ontario

cobourg ontario beach
Find photo-worthy spots in Cobourg. (Photo: Getty Images)

This waterfront town is located just over one hour from Toronto, under one hour from Belleville and Oshawa, and 90 minutes from Kingston. Stroll the boardwalk as you head down to Cobourg Beach for white sand and views of Lake Ontario.

Go for a walk or hike the nearby trails, or hop on a bike and explore the natural scenery along the Rice Lake Ramble or Shelter Valley cycling routes. Back in town, take a self-guided walking tour of the many 19th-century heritage buildings, stop into the Art Gallery of Northumberland and shop in the boutiques.

For an afternoon snack, stop into one of local bakeries — like MillStone Bread — for a famous Canadian dessert: a butter tart.

Sylvan Lake, Alberta

Right in the middle of Alberta, just 90 minutes from the cities of Calgary and Edmonton, is Sylvan, a small but vibrant lake town. During the hot and sunny summer, the lake is the perfect temperature for swimming or for trying out Aqua Splash, the floating water park.

Relax on the patio of one of the many waterfront restaurants and sip local craft beers in the taproom of Snake Lake Brewing. No visit to Sylvan Lake is complete without a popping into The Big Moo ice-cream shop to pick from more than 80 flavors.

In the winter, when temperatures cool off, the frozen lake transforms into an ice fishing and skating hub — rentals are available.

Gimli, Manitoba

gimli beach manitoba
Take a stroll along the boardwalk. (Photo: Getty Images)

Its Icelandic roots make Gimli an unsuspecting beach town, but one that’s packed with things to do. Head to Gimli Beach for freshwater swimming, sandy shores and sunset views from the boardwalk.

For a taste of Iceland, head to Sugar Me Cookie bakery to try vinarterta (a type of cake), stroll the streets to see Nordic public art, and pop into the New Iceland Heritage Museum (check website for hours/closures).

Shop for souvenirs and trinkets at the historic HP Tergesen & Sons boutique — the 19th-century building it’s housed in makes a great photo backdrop. Trying the local seafood delicacy of fried pickerel is a must; you’ll find it on the menu at most restaurants, but the pickerel tacos at Ship and Plough Tavern put a unique spin on it.

Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia

Take a road trip from Halifax along the Eastern Shore and find picturesque views and photoworthy moments. In just 30 minutes you’ll arrive at the quaint seaside village of Lawrencetown and its many beaches — the one with the most personality is Lawrencetown Beach, which has become a favorite among surfers.

You can rent surf gear and even take lessons (check out East Coast Surf School or Kannon Beach Shop), but swimming in the ocean and sunbathing on the beach are just as fun.

Experience laid-back East Coast hospitality at the many restaurants and cafés that dot the Eastern Shore route. If you don’t want to leave the beach, the Lawrencetown Beach Café is the spot to go for locally roasted coffee and light fare.