Toronto’s beaches are some of the best beaches in Ontario, offering easy accessibility and abundant space for visitors to find their ideal patch of sand.
During warm summer days, these beaches attract crowds of families, teenagers, and retirees enjoying the expansive open areas. Activities range from swimming and playing in the waves to strolls or reading a book in a beach chair. Most locations have lifeguards on duty to ensure safety.
These beaches serve as a welcome escape from the city’s dense urban environment, providing vast views of the other side of the lake out of sight. On windy days, kiteboarders and windsurfers often put on a thrilling display offshore.
Public transport options are generally convenient, but drivers should be aware that parking can be challenging at some locations, especially on hot days. Many beaches are connected via the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail, facilitating easy biking, or walking between them.
Each location offers amenities such as playgrounds, changerooms, washrooms, and concessions. Pack a lunch as most beaches provide green space with picnic tables, and some even have free barbecues.
Among the 10 listed beaches, four are situated on Toronto Islands: Ward’s, Centre Island, Hanlan’s Point, and Gibraltar. Accessing these requires a ferry ride and a walk of 10 to 15 minutes, and bringing a bike on the ferry is free of charge.
Discover the perfect spot by the water with our curated list of the best beaches in Toronto.
1. Woodbine Beach
Woodbine is one of the finest true urban beaches in Toronto, easily accessible and spanning 15.2 acres, making it a hot spot for beach enthusiasts, particularly the younger crowd seeking a good time.
This long, gracefully curving stretch of soft sand ranks among the city’s best, with a backdrop of a boardwalk and wooded area. Facing east and sheltered by a substantial headland on the southern side, the beach enjoys protection from strong winds, resulting in small waves and pleasantly warming waters — a notable advantage in the cool expanse of Lake Ontario.
At the back of the beach, you’ll find expansive volleyball courts, where agile players strive for the perfect set and spike. Whether you bring a picnic lunch or opt for offerings from the fast-food concession, ice cream truck, or the nearby full-service restaurant, Woodbine ensures a delightful beach experience.
While parking at Woodbine is ample, it is worth noting that, especially on hot weekends, the large lots can fill up. There are three primary lots, with the largest conveniently situated just off Eastern Avenue.
2. Kew-Balmy Beach
The Kew-Balmy Beach area is situated in the aptly named region of Toronto known as The Beaches. Commencing around the historic Leuty Lifesaving station, erected in 1920, this stretch of sand spans just over a kilometer, concluding at the splendid Art Deco-inspired RC Harris Water Treatment plant.
Known for its tranquil ambiance and local flavor, this beach exudes a laid-back vibe, emphasizing relaxation with a good book over loud music. For those seeking a livelier atmosphere, Woodbine Beach, a bit farther west, provides an alternative. The sand here is typically coarse, with small pebbles lining the water’s edge. Seawalls dot the shore, particularly near the eastern end of the beach.
While the usual beach activities are popular, Kew-Balmy Beach is also an ideal spot for kiteboarding. On days when the wind blows from the west, south, or east, you will witness kiters racing across the waves.
An ideal day at Kew-Balmy Beach might unfold as follows: Arrive early to secure a prime parking spot, meander down tree-lined streets to the beach, set up your gear and relax. When hunger strikes, amble up to Queen Street East and enjoy a leisurely lunch on a patio. Return to the beach for a nap in the sun until it’s time to head home.
Alternatively, extend your beach day and cap it off with an early dinner on a patio before heading home.
3. Hanlan’s Point Beach, Toronto Islands
Situated on the western side of the island, this beach stands alone and boasts some of the finest sand on the island. The rear of the beach is bordered by trees and sand dunes adorned with vegetation. Notably, a one-kilometer stretch of Hanlan’s Point Beach, near the southern end, is designated as the only clothing-optional beach in Toronto. However, it is essential to note that most of the beach requires clothing.
Due to its proximity to Toronto’s Island Airport, a continuous stream of small planes takes off and lands, providing visual entertainment. Additionally, kiteboarders at the northwest end of the beach contribute to the visual stimuli. Facing southwest, Hanlan’s Point Beach is among the best spots on the island to witness the sunset.
When departing from Toronto, be sure to take the Hanlan’s Point ferry. As a smaller car ferry with fewer crowds, it offers a more scenic ride across Toronto Harbour from east to west compared to the Centre Island ferry. Expect a 15-minute walk from the ferry terminal to reach the best part of the beach.
4. Gibraltar Beach, Toronto Islands
If the activity at Centre Island Beach is overwhelming, make your way east to Gibraltar Beach. Often underrated, Gibraltar Beach offers a delightful expanse of sand and is seldom crowded. The beach, characterized by its length and width, is demarcated at the southern end by a metal breakwater.
Behind the beach, providing a shaded retreat, stand large cottonwood trees—a spot that is irresistibly perfect for setting up a beach chair and immersing yourself in a good book. If you seek a respite from the sun and sand, take a brief stroll back from the beach across the small road to reach the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, dating back to 1808 and rumored to be haunted.
Gibraltar Point Beach is merely a one-minute walk from the Centre Island ferry terminal, making it advisable to take the Centre Island ferry. Alternatively, the Hanlan’s Point ferry is an option, but it involves a longer walk, and if you choose this route, you’ll likely find yourself at Hanlan’s Point since it’s the more appealing of the two beaches.
5. Centre Island Beach, Toronto Islands
Embarking on a Toronto Islands beach day is a worthwhile full-day adventure. The first and busiest beach accessible via the Centre Island ferry is Centre Island Beach.
Situated at the terminus of a one-kilometer pathway winding through wooded surroundings, over bridges, and past charming gardens, this stretch of sand benefits from calm and warm waters, courtesy of a substantial rock breakwater just offshore. While it might not claim the title of the island’s finest beach, it certainly holds the distinction of being the most frequented, boasting a plethora of amenities.
Offering the finest view on the island, the beach provides uninterrupted panoramas spanning a 180-degree arc. As the liveliest among the four Toronto Islands beaches, it teems with individuals of all ages on hot summer weekends. A pier extends from the shoreline, culminating in a viewing platform.
Equipped with change rooms, bathrooms, bike rentals, lockers, and a concession stand vending cold drinks, pizza, and snacks, Centre Island Beach caters to a diverse array of beachgoer needs.
6. Ward’s Island Beach, Toronto Islands
Situated at the far eastern extremity of the island, Ward’s Island Beach forms a delightful curve of sand offering vistas towards Cherry Beach in the Toronto Port Lands. What enhances the appeal of this beach is its proximity to some of the finest patios on the island. Should you find yourself in need of a meal, a brief stroll will promptly satisfy your culinary desires.
The beach boasts a generous width, accompanied by small trees in the backdrop. However, these trees provide minimal shade, so it is advisable to bring along an umbrella. Break up your day by taking a stroll down the extensive boardwalk situated on the right-hand side of the beach.
Anticipate a 10-minute walk from the Ward’s Island ferry terminal to reach the beach. Ensure you board the Ward’s Island ferry, as opting for the Centre Island ferry would entail a considerably longer walk!
7. Cherry Beach
Cherry Beach is potentially one of Toronto’s most underrated beaches. Situated in the Port Lands area of Toronto, this hidden gem of a beach enjoys protection from the wind on three sides. From the roundabout, the beach is divided into two sections, east and west of the lifeguard station, with easier parking available on the east side.
One of the notable features of this beach is the area beyond the sand; large mature trees and a grassy space with picnic tables and BBQs can be found behind it. The beach itself has relatively coarse sand, and swimmers should take note that the water has a steep drop-off.
On windy days, kiteboarders and windsurfers provide an entertaining spectacle, while sailors engage in their activities farther offshore.
8. Bluffer’s Beach
Bluffer’s Beach is often regarded as the most beautiful beach in Toronto, especially by those residing in Scarborough. Beige-colored bluffs with flowering trees at their baseline the beach, while Lake Ontario sparkles in the sunshine. It is astonishing to think that just behind you, a city of three million people exists.
This expansive beach boasts some of the softest sand among all the beaches in Toronto and offers ample space for anyone wanting to bask in the sun and imagine themselves in the Caribbean. Lifeguards are on duty, ensuring the safety of bathers in the shallow water. In contrast to other beaches in the Toronto area, the picnic tables and BBQs are not situated at the back of the beach; at Bluffer’s, they are in a treed green space to the right.
Parking for the beach is limited, and the closest lot fills up quickly. However, a much larger parking lot is located one kilometer away, approximately a 15-minute walk along a wide, paved trail. Drop your gear and companions at the beach, then decide who draws the short straw to go to park the car and walk back!
It’s important to note that the iconic steep bluffs, often photographed, are not in the beach area. They are at the far western edge of the park and quite a distance from the beach.
9. Rouge Beach
Rouge Beach, situated at the southern tip of Rouge National Urban Park, Canada’s newest national park, is a picturesque destination. The Rouge River flows into Lake Ontario on the left side of the beach, introducing warmer water into the chilly lake.
This beach is seldom crowded, making it the ideal spot for those seeking ample space. Stretching for approximately 500 meters, the beach is accompanied by a trail through the trees along its back. Adjacent to the beach and near the parking area is a marsh, providing an excellent opportunity for wildlife observation, paddling, or kayaking.
While the views over Lake Ontario from Rouge Beach to the south and west are breathtaking, the presence of the Pickering Nuclear Generating plant to the east might be a bit disconcerting.
10. Sunnyside Beach
The Sunnyside beach area comprises four beaches: three named Sunnyside and one named after Sir Casimir Gzowski. Regardless of your choice, you’ll encounter a narrow stretch of sand bordered by a boardwalk, trees, and an expansive green space with picnic tables.
Protected by an offshore breakwater, the beaches always enjoy calm waters along the shore. The breakwater also encloses the lake water, allowing it to warm up in the shallow enclosure.
The historic Sunnyside Pavilion houses a café with one of the finest beachfront patios in the city. Try to secure a table here and observe the continuous parade of people along the Sunnyside Boardwalk.
Parking is convenient, with extensive lots situated just behind the beach. If you fancy a stroll, simply take Colborne Lodge Drive north under the Gardiner Expressway and walk up to High Park, one of the best parks in Toronto .
Please be aware that Sunnyside Beach may be closed for swimming after heavy rainfall due to its proximity to the Humber River.
Q: Can I swim at all Toronto beaches?
A: Yes, most Toronto beaches have designated swimming areas with lifeguards on duty.
Q: Are there water sports facilities available at Cherry Beach?
A: Yes, Cherry Beach is known for its water sports facilities, including windsurfing and paddle boarding.
Q: Are Toronto beaches open year-round?
A: While some beaches may have limited access during the winter, most are open for most of the year.
Q: Are pets allowed on Toronto beaches?
A: Generally, pets are not allowed on the main beaches, but some areas may be designated for pet-friendly activities.
Q: How can I contribute to beach sustainability efforts?
A: Participate in clean-up events, dispose of waste responsibly, and support eco-friendly initiatives at Toronto beaches.