Camping is a quintessential Canadian summer activity. There are campgrounds of all shapes and sizes offering a whole host of different activities and amenities from hiking to birdwatching to canoeing. But, come summertime, one of the best amenities you can find at a campground is a beach. Luckily, there are quite a few options for Canadians looking to pitch their tent near a stretch of soft sand. If camping with easy access to a crystal clear body of water is your goal this summer, we have you covered.
Tips for beach camping
- Campsite options are limited as are their capacities so make reservations well in advance.
- Apply for camping permits (if needed) in advance.
- Prepare for any type of weather.
- Pack proper supplies like a bear canister to keep raccoons and other animals from eating your provisions; sunscreen; insect repellent; screen tents for shade and insect protection; and long tent stakes to anchor tents in the sand to withstand wind.
- Watch the high tide level and camp well above that.
- Consult with park rangers for details on hiking, weather conditions and campsite conditions.
- Plan ahead of time how to pack camping gear if you are flying.
Sandbanks Provincial Park, Ontario
There are many reasons to book a campsite at Sandbanks Provincial Park and one of the best is the park’s three sandy beaches. The park has 500 car camping sites, many of which are on the waterfront. The beaches here are known as some of the best in Canada so you’re sure to find a plot of sand that suits you. In addition to beaches, Sandbanks is home to the world’s largest baymouth barrier dune formation, which makes for hilly and shady contrasts to the flat stretches of shoreline. While at the park, you can also hike one of three trails, go canoeing and, during the summer, there are interactive educational programs offered.
Grand Beach Provincial Park, Manitoba
Located on Lake Winnipeg — the sixth largest lake in Canada — Grand Beach Provincial Park is another spot that features impressive sand dunes and an expansive beach. The dunes here are 12 metres high and there are three kilometres of beach to explore. Booking one of the 350 campsites also puts you close to nature trails, jackpine forest, a spruce bog, tennis courts, birdwatching opportunities and a boardwalk for scenic strolls. If you happen to visit in August, you can check out the Grand Beach Sand Castle Competition, the longest running and largest sand castle competition in Manitoba.
Pinery Provincial Park, Ontario
Get your beach camping fix this summer at Pinery Provincial Park in Grand Bend, Ontario. This is where you’ll find an incredible 10 kilometres of sandy beach on the shores of Lake Huron. When you’re not beach-hopping, Pinery is a great spot for bird watching since the park’s rare habitats attract hundreds of different species. There are also 10 hiking trails of varying lengths, a biking trail and canoes, kayaks, paddleboats and even hydro bikes to rent. Don’t forget your camera – the sunsets at Pinery were ranked as one of the top 10 in the world by “National Geographic”.
Prince Edward Island Provincial Park, Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island is known for its abundance of beaches, and you can find seven of them in Prince Edward Island National Park. There are two campgrounds in the park, and Cavendish campground boasts an exclusive supervised white sand beach open only to campers. Explore 50 kilometres of hiking and cycling trails or go for a canoe or kayak ride. There are several picnic areas on site as well as a popular golf course nearby.
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, British Columbia
Looking for a spectacular stretch of sand? How about Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, which clocks in at nearly 16 kilometres. Green Point Campground offers direct access to this extensive beachfront, which is ideal for swimming, taking long walks, surfing or exploring one of the most scenic areas on the west coast. Camping in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is a chance to truly get away from it all. Beautiful beach aside, the park has numerous hiking trails and an indoor theatre where educational evening programs are offered during July and August.
Waiʻānapanapa State Park, Hana, Hawaii
The remote campsites in Waiʻānapanapa State Park offer the chance to camp along the volcanic coastline. The campsites are set in the jungle near an ancient Hawaiian coastal trail, which leads to Hana, Hawaii. Campers get an up close and personal interaction with nature here. The park is home to a seabird colony, native hala forest, anchialine pools (landlocked bodies of water with subterranean connections to the ocean), heiau (religious temple) and a beautiful black sand beach.
Parlee Beach Provincial Park, New Brunswick
Set up camp at Parlee Provincial Park in Pointe-du-Chêne, New Brunswick, so you can dip your toes into the warmest saltwater in Canada. The seaside campground is perfect for spending a relaxing weekend near the sand, but, if you’re in the mood for a little more action, you’re in luck, too. The beach offers a line up of activities including football, volleyball or ultimate Frisbee. If you’re a seafood fan, be sure to visit the nearby town of Shediac, where a culinary lobster cruise awaits.
Homer Spit Campground, Homer, Alaska
At the end of Homer Spit, Alaska, campers are afforded picture postcard views of the mountains and the ocean. The Homer Spit Campground n the shores of Kachemak Bay can accommodate 122 RVs and 25 tents. Amenities include free Wi-Fi, dump station, fresh water, laundry, restrooms, showers and a gift shop. Firewood and ice are available for purchase.
The campsite is within walking distance to shops, restaurants and bars, like the Salty Dawg Saloon, a dive bar where visitors must try the Duck Fart, a shot purportedly originating in Kodiak and composed of Kahlúa, Bailey’s Irish Cream and Crown Royal. Open May 1 to Sept. 15, visitors can reserve campsites by calling 907-235-8206 or emailing email@example.com.
Good Spirit Lake Provincial Park, Saskatchewan
Pitching your tent at Good Spirit Lake Provincial Park in Canora, Saskatchewan, gives you easy access to swimming or sunbathing Canora Beach. The beach is known for its shallow, warm water making it ideal for families. The pet-friendly park offers a variety of activities for active campers including canoeing, hiking trails and cycling trails. Just make sure the book your site in advance.
Kalaloch Campground, Olympic National Park, Washington
Located on the southwest coast of Olympic Peninsula, Kalaloch Campground is a popular place to camp, particularly at the 170 year-round campsites located on a high bluff adjacent to the Pacific Ocean. The campground is located between the two-lane Highway 101 and a cliff above the beach. Book a campsite with an ocean view; E009 and A001 are the closest ocean-view campsites with the easiest bathroom access. There are four stairways that go down to the beach from the campsite.
Other nearby beach camping options include Second Beach off the road between Forks Road and La Push Riad (there is a short, not terribly steep hike with a large pile of driftwood to climb over at the bottom). Campers need a Wilderness Camping Permit to camp at these locations.
You’ll need a bear canister to store food anywhere on the beach. Bear canisters are available at Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles and are used primarily to keep raccoons out of your food stash.
The fall and winter months are known for perfect storm watching from the safety of the shore with a hot drink. Pets are also welcome at Kalaloch. Nearby, the Creekside Restaurant at Kalaloch Lodge offers casual, cozy dining with panoramic ocean views serving fresh local and sustainable cuisine to recharge campers before another walk on the beach. Campsite reservations can be made during the summer (June 10 to Sept. 20) via the Olympic National Park website; campsites are first-come, first-served the rest of the year.
Featured image: istock.com/VesnaAndjic