Canada is renowned for its incredible lakes and for having more than the rest of the world combined. However, an often overlooked element of Canada’s stunning landscape is its beautiful coastlines. Though it can be difficult to see everything that Canada has to offer due to the size of the country, exploring Canada with a fly drive holiday can be an incredible way to make the most of your time.
Including its islands, Canada has the longest coastline in the world. Bordered by the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, there is a lot of different geography on offer and it has some beautiful beaches and shores. We have found the best ones for those looking for adventure, a sandy nook to relax in or somewhere to spot some of Canada’s wildlife.
Basin Head – Prince Edward Island
Though Basin Head may appear to be just another sandy beach, it has a melodious secret. Not completely understood by science, when you walk across Basin Head beach, the sand beneath your feet sings to you. We spoke to Wallace Rose, an authority of the shore from Basin Head:
“Basin Head beach in Eastern PEI has become one of the premier white sandy beaches in all of Canada. Just east of the Town of Souris, the beach is known for its “singing sands” where the sand makes a high musical note when walked on or during higher winds. Basin Head is a popular destination not just for the beach but also for the beauty of the area, red cliffs, the supporting sand dunes and warm waters.
“The beach itself stretches northeast for many kilometres and is separated from the smaller west portion of the beach by a wharf on each side with a walking bridge over the run. This run allows the Marine Protected Area (MPA; one of only a few in Canada) just north to drain and fill during daily tides. Now, this is part of what makes Basin Head beach special.”
Though the singing sands and welcoming bay are enough of a draw, there is also lots to do in the area as Basin head has grown in popularity:
“Jumping off the wharf or bridge into the run isn’t supposed to be allowed, but it has become one of the most exciting past times for young and old alike who visit the beach. The Basin Head Provincial Park is home to a fisheries museum, gift shop, restaurant and companies that offer paddle boarding and eco-tours of the MPA.
“While a popular beach with big crowds during the summer, you can walk past the towels and bathers on the sand to continue to beachcomb in solitude. If you are planning a trip to the east coast and Eastern PEI, you need to visit Basin Head beach, Provincial Park, Fisheries Museum and Marine Protected Area.”
Hopewell Rocks – New Brunswick
For those who are looking for an impressive photograph or who are interested in the geology of coastlines, Hopewell Rocks should satisfy. These flowerpot formations are nicknamed for their individual shapes but due to erosion, they are constantly changing. The flowerpot formations are so named for the vegetation that remains perched on top of the columns when they broke away from the cliffs.
Annick Robichaud Butland from the Hopewell Rocks told us why it is such an incredible corner of Canada to visit:
“The Bay of Fundy is the body of water shared by the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. New Brunswick borders the province of Quebec and the state of Maine. The rugged beauty of the breath-taking coastline is worth the drive; with a coastal driving experience (Fundy Trail Parkway) being further revealed to allow motorists to take in the panoramic view along the way.
“It’s worth noting that the Bay of Fundy has earned a credible reputation for being awe-inspiring and unique as a destination. In 2011, it was the only Canadian finalist for the 7 Wonders of Nature, with its only North American contender being the Grand Canyon! Visiting the World’s Highest Tides is increasingly seen on international guests’ bucket lists.
“An iconic and popular place for ocean tidal exploration is at Hopewell Rocks, approximately a 2-hour drive from the city of Saint John, and only 40 minutes from the city of Moncton. You may book a day trip with various companies that allow you to sit back and enjoy the day as they provide you with a hassle-free experience to some of the must-see places along the way. Their partnership with Hopewell Rocks allows them to plan your visit in advance according to the tide times for high and low tide. Walk on the ocean floor with towering rock formations that have been carved by the weather and the powerful incoming waters over decades.”
There is so much to see and do in the Bay of Fundy coastal region, that several days can easily be planned to provide you with a unique and unforgettable experience.
Wreck Beach – British Columbia
Wreck Beach is definitely one for the open-minded. North America’s largest nudist beach is not only known for its inclusive attitude but also its stunning bit of shore. Close to Downtown Vancouver, it is great for a day trip. The Wreck Beach Preservation Society is keen to keep this piece of coastline safe, and after fighting off threats of deforestation and marinas, Wreck Beach has been left intact. The Experience Junkie has written about their first experience on Wreck beach:
“Nudism, I appreciate, is not for everyone. But that’s one of the first things that struck me about this inclusive beach on my first visit: that despite it being a nude beach you didn’t have to go naked if you didn’t want to. Those patronising the beach were a mix of ‘au natural’, half-dressed and fully-covered in swimwear. All ages too were in attendance. I distinctly remember sitting next to a grandmother who was there with her granddaughter, and me thinking ‘how cool is that?!’ The range of ages gave the place an unparalleled sense of community.”
“The end to a perfect day? Almost! The cherry on the cake was the impromptu music/jam session we got caught up in before leaving the beach. Revellers were adding their instruments, their voices, or simply clapped to an impromptu beat and melody that was collectively contributed to and singularly enjoyed.”
Magdalen Islands – Quebec
You would be forgiven for believing you were somewhere more tropical than off the coast of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia as the red cliffs, rusty sand and incredible blue seas and sky look so different to other parts of the coastline in this area. This archipelago of islands in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence has some incredible views and a welcoming community that, beyond a few concessions, is a window into a life that the modern world forgot.
These islands are great for wildlife watching and for three weeks in March, it is incredibly easy to see baby harp seals on ice floes. Over 300 species of birds are known to frequent the Magdalen Islands making it ideal for budding ornithologists, while those on boat excursions could catch a glimpse of a variety of whales and porpoises.
Long Beach – British Columbia
The largest and longest beach in the Pacific Rim National Park is perfect for the adventurous. Known as one of Canada’s prime surfing spots, it is very close to the town of Tofino, which has been voted as one of the best surf towns in the world. With kayaking, boating, paddle boarding and windsurfing available here, it is too tempting to get out on the water. Just remember to bring a wetsuit, as it is going to be cold.
If you want to stay out of the water, storm watching in this region is particularly popular. The expansive stretch of Long Beach makes an excellent backdrop to the dramatic shots. Just wait for the waves to roll, the sunbeams to break through the deep clouds and get your camera ready.