Standing on the beach in July at Sandbanks Provincial Park looking at the crashing waves of Great Lake Ontario took me aback. Could this really be Canada? Suddenly, I felt like I was on a beach somewhere in California, U.S.A. where I’m originally from, looking at the awesome ocean.
This is what I wanted. Sandbanks is no ordinary stretch of sand. Lake Ontario is no ordinary lake. This is what a vacation is supposed to be . . . extraordinary.
For years, people have been telling me to go see Sandbanks. So one summer, I eagerly joined a group of sea kayakers from Ottawa, Ontario who were base camping at Sandbanks in July for a few days to paddle, hike, relax, party, and tour some of the surrounding area.
I crawled out of my tent at daybreak on my first day there while the rest of the campground was still asleep and headed out with my camera. I wanted to see what Sandbanks was all about. Why was it so special?
It’s all about the sand and wide-open spaces, sandcastles, sand dunes, clean campsites with lots of space, and miles of sandy beaches.
Sandbanks is known for three of its sandy beaches, Outlet Beach, Sandbanks Beach and Dunes Beach, which are some of the largest and most beautiful beaches in Ontario.
Dogs are allowed on some beaches, but check with park officials beforehand for regulations pertaining to dogs in the park.
On quiet summer days, you can enjoy a relaxing paddle on the Outlet River and East Lake. These are more protected areas for paddling. Watch out for motor boats along the way.
West Lake and Lake Ontario are more challenging to paddle especially when the wind is up. You have to really watch the weather reports on the big waterways and stay off the open water when the wind is strong or plan to paddle in more protected bays and rivers.
Thing is, it’s so nice to hang around the park, it’s almost a shame to take off with a fleet of 17 foot long sea kayaks to explore other cool spots nearby like the Black River, Waupoos Island, Half Moon Bay and the Little Bluff Conservation Area. But, we did! As kayakers, we are always on the move looking to discover something new each day.
Basecamp at Sandbanks was so nice! Our paddle crew always planned to come back “home” early to enjoy the beaches and sunsets.
After a good day’s paddle, I sat back to enjoy the fruits of my labour of love. A glass of white wine.
There’s a lot more to see and do in the Sandbanks area than you’ll likely have time for in a week, so you can always look forward to another visit. It’s a pleasant drive to get to Sandbanks Provincial Park as you pass by other great waterways in beautiful Prince Edward County. It’s all part of the charm and allure of visiting Sandbanks.
The park is located on the shores of Lake Ontario on Quinte Isle, west of nearby Picton, and is surrounded by other quaint villages for you to explore, shop, and dine.
For more information, contact the park to inquire about best times to visit for optimal beach and water quality, and to reserve a campsite: Sandbanks, Ontario Parks
Don’t forget the bug stuff and sunscreen in summer.
From our basecamp at Sandbanks, our group enjoyed awesome paddling and hiking in other nearby locations.