Summer is in full swing, and there’s no better way to enjoy the hot sunny days than hitting up the beach! Before you start booking your flight, I’ll let you in on a little secret: world class beaches are closer than you think.

blue flag flying

The Blue Flag program is an international eco-certification for beaches and marinas. Each Blue Flag beach meets high standards for water quality, safety and accessibility. With the Blue Flag program you don’t have to stray far from home for the ultimate beach staycation.

All 27 Blue Flag beaches in Canada are worth a visit, but this year three particular beaches made the top of my list:

Bayfield Beach

bayfield beach

My first pick, Bayfield Beach, sits on the shores of Lake Huron. It’s a great stop on any road trip but is also next to Bluewater Marina, so you can park the boat and enjoy a day of sand and sunshine. It’s the perfect stop to any Huron voyage.  Admire the driftwood sculptures and stay for the bright gold sunsets after a day of beach fun. Visit the Village of Bayfield, an adorable small town Ontario treasure, and stop at the local shops for everything from ice cream to fine dining.  I personally recommend the Pink Flamingo for something sweet, and The Little Inn of Bayfield for something savoury.

Travel time from:

London – 1 hour

Hamilton – 2 hours

Toronto – 2.5 hours

Victoria Beach

victoria beach

On your next road trip, pull off the 401 and head for Victoria Beach in Cobourg. Backed by a beautiful park with walking trails and wide open spaces, Victoria Beach is the perfect place to stop for a picnic. This peach is also accompanied by a neighbouring marina, so you can have a beach day amongst your Lake Ontario travels as well. Test your sandcastle architecture at Cobourg’s annual Sandcastle Festival on August 5th! When the sun goes down, Victoria Beach hosts movie nights on the beach and in town there are plenty of eateries and two new breweries to enjoy.

Travel time from:

Peterborough – 50 min

Toronto – 1 hour

Kingston – 1 hour 45min

Port Stanley Beach

port stanley beach

If you’re a sports fan — or just a beach fan — Port Stanley Beach is the place to be. Located on the north shore of Lake Erie, this beach has everything you need for a day of fun in the sun. The beach is nearby a playground and has lifeguards on staff seven days a week. What I love about this beach is the fantastic volleyball courts! Work up a sweat (and your competitive edge) on the best beach volleyball facilities around. GT’s on the Beach is right nearby when you’re ready for a break and refreshment. The sports fun doesn’t have to stop there; you can also hit the links close by the beach at the local Bluffs Golf Club.

Travel time from:

London – 45 min

Hamilton – 1 hour 45 min

Toronto – 2 hours

Find the right Blue Flag Beach for your next staycation.

If it has a Blue Flag you can be sure it’s one of the best, so the only thing you have to worry about is which floatie to pack: the flamingo or doughnut. (The answer: both).

Have a favourite beach in Canada? Send us a picture by entering our Life’s a Beach Photo Contest.