Summer is fleeting and one way to enjoy it best is to get out to a local beach.
Going to the beach for the day is a time honoured tradition in my household. It’s also an economical way for the whole family to have a day of fun in the sun. You can bring your snacks and drinks and spend the day outdoors, enjoying a splash in the water, and making some great family memories.
Best Beaches In Hamilton And St. Catharines
These are the best spots in the area for your day of fun in the sun:
Christie Lake Conservation Area — If you’re into antiques, you’ve already heard of Christie. The twice a year antique and vintage show is well known. But what you might not be aware of is the 360 meters of sandy beach at the park. When you get tired of lying around in the sand, you can rent a canoe or kayak and explore the waters of the reservoir even further.
Confederation Beach Park — This sandy shoreline is a popular summer destination, not the least of which because it is situated alongside the popular Wild Waterworks waterpark, go-karts, batting cages and a selection of dining options. My favourite? Barangas on the Beach. It’s right by the water, making you feel like you’re on vacation, even though you never really left home! There is also the Lakeland pool and splash pad, if you want to keep things a little more low key. Either way, you can turn a day at the beach into a full on fun-fest, all within easy reach. In this same strip of beach, you’ll find Van Wagner’s Beach, which is another popular summer destination with easy access to fun park activities
Fifty Point Beach — Boasting some of the cleanest sand and warmest waters on this stretch, this beach is close to the Fifty Point Marina, giving you the perfect vantage view to watch boats float by. There’s even a changing facility on site, so you don’t have to figure out how to squeeze into your suit, in the car. Trust me, it’s not easy.
Valens Lake — This is a beautiful spot to spend the day. Pack a cooler full of snacks and beverages, or stop in at the Beach Store, where you can get supplies and even the all important beach toys you might have forgotten. The beauty of Valens Lake is that you feel like you’ve driven to a pristine spot to the north, without ever leaving your own area. Go fishing while you’re there, or take a walk on the trails, including a 300 metre boardwalk to explore the local wetlands.
St. Catharines Beaches
If you’re in the St. Catharines area, there are three really nice beach options to choose from:
- Jones Beach, in a protected bay. This is a quiet spot to set up and have a good long read of a beach book.
- Lakeside Beach Park. If you want more amenities, particularly for the little ones, this park features a snack bar, washrooms, a playground and more.
- Sunset Beach. With 365 metres of sandy beach, this is the perfect spot to catch some rays, and possibly a gorgeous sunset too. With washrooms, a picnic area and a playground, it’s well set up for a great day.
What To Bring For The BEST Beach Day
There’s nothing worse than getting to the beach and realizing you’ve forgotten something important so here’s a quick list to remind you:
- Flip flops / water shoes
- A sun tent or umbrella
- Camp chairs
- A cooler with snacks and beverages, including lots of water
- Hats and sunglasses
- A small first aid kit
- Beach toys
- A book or other entertainment
- A change of clothes for everyone
Safety Tips At The Beach
Before you leave for the day, check the water quality warnings for local area beaches:
St. Catharines and Niagara: https://www.niagararegion.ca/living/water/beaches/default.aspx
- Check for any safety signs when you arrive that will alert you to any known issues.
- Remember that most of the beaches mentioned aren’t monitored by lifeguards so it’s up to the adults to make sure that all the little ones are safe. Take it in turns to be ‘lifeguard’, if there are several of you, so everyone gets a break at some point.
- If you’ve got kids in the water, make sure they’re using a buddy system to keep an eye on one another. Call out ‘Buddies’ every once in a while to make sure everyone knows where their buddy is!
- Smaller children or those with lesser swimming skills should be wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) that is sized to fit them properly. Water shoes are a great idea for on the sand: it gets very hot throughout the day!
- Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen. Even the waterproof formulations fade in effectiveness.
- A swim suit that includes a swim t-shirt to cover the shoulders is a great idea for skin of all ages.
The beauty of living by the shores of Lake Ontario, is that there are plenty of options for a great day at the beach. Keep it fun, keep it safe, and have a great summer.