ONLY 4 HOURS FROM MONTREAL
It was high time I discovered Prince Edward County, Ontario, but specifically Sandbanks Provincial Park and North Beach Provincial Park. As you drive through the many villages, you will find rural scenery and the rustic side with many antique shops and second-hand dealers with astonishing objects. The region is also known for its vineyards and good gastronomic addresses.
But what makes Prince Edward County famous is, above all, its great sandy beaches, dunes, and the crystal-clear water of Lake Ontario. A perfect location for the summer and only a 4-hours drive from Montreal.
SANDBANKS PROVINCIAL PARK
First and foremost, don’t head to Sandbanks hoping to get in without purchasing a day pass in advance. We made that mistake and turned around, as the parking only has limited spots. Once the park has reached its full capacity, it closes until more spaces become available. In addition, it is top-rated in the summer, especially on weekends and during the long holidays of Midsummer’s Day or Canada Day.
To purchase a Day Pass, you can buy it online by visiting the Ontarioparks.com website or call 1-888-668-7275.
Once the famous Pass is in hand, all you have to do is choose your beach:
– Lake shore Beach
– Sandbanks Dunes Beach
– Outlet Beach
We set our sights on two of the three beaches, first Sandbanks Dunes Beach and then Lakeshore Beach. In both cases, Mother Nature amazed us.
It is possible to swim in West Lake on the dune side, which is warmer (because it is a closed lake) and home to more algae. This beach is also protected from the wind.
Lakeshore Beachside, you can swim in crystal clear water, but much colder (especially in June when we went). The beach is almost 7 km long, making it the perfect place for walkers.
Note: there are several hiking trails between Lakeshore Beach and Sandbanks Dunes Beach. All of these trails are considered easy. You can find them at Ontarioparks.com.
NORTH BEACH PROVINCIAL PARK
North Beach doesn’t have to be ashamed of Sandbanks. Although, I have to admit that if we hadn’t been turned down at Sandbanks on day one, we might not have discovered this beautiful beach 30 minutes north. And yet, this place is worth a visit. Indeed, North Beach is much less crowded, and although the beach is smaller (1.2 km long), you will not be too close to other visitors. Instead, you can take advantage of the fine sand and transparent water for a swim or dip a toe in it for the more cautious.