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5 Exceptional Places to Swim on the Bruce Peninsula (Other Than the Grotto!)

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Exceptional Places to Swim on the Bruce Peninsula
Exceptional Places to Swim on the Bruce Peninsula

Summer on the Bruce Peninsula promises all the sun and fun you can handle, but how can you get off the beaten path and away from the crowds? When the Grotto parking lot is packed and Tobermory is bursting at the seams, check out these 5 pristine places to take a hike and enjoy a refreshing swim.

Note: The Bruce Peninsula is bordered by two bodies of water that offer distinctly unique experiences! On the west side of the peninsula lies Lake Huron, where you’ll find sandier beaches and more gradual, sloping entries to warmer waters. The peninsula’s eastern shores are generally rockier, with quick drop-offs into cooler, crystalline blue waters. You’ll find excellent fishing on either side and while kiteboarders typically prefer Lake Huron, the scuba divers head to Georgian Bay to explore shipwrecks, ancient coral and fossils, and more.

Check out these incredible places to dip your toes as you explore the Bruce:

1. Sauble Beach
1. Sauble Beach

You’ll find the main beach at the ‘T’ of Main Street and Lakeshore Blvd., starting at the iconic Sauble Beach sign and stretching as far as the eye can see both north and south.

Sauble Beach isn’t just the perfect spot to swim and build sandcastles, especially during Sandfest, but to get out where the waves are calling. That's right surfing is a popular sport here, onlookers can regularly watch locals catching a wave or ten after work. Just watch out, their excitement is contagious - you might find yourself wanting to rent a board! On particularly windy days, you’ll see kiteboarders coming out eager to see what the wind has in store for them. While the most popular spot to see these water acrobats is Oliphant, Sauble Beach is a close second during the off seasons due to the crowds during the summer. So you’ve got a show on the windy days but what about the calm days? SUPing is the fastest growing water sport and on calm days where the water is like glass is the perfect time to hit the StandUp Paddleboards or test your skills when the waves are coming in.

Sauble Beach is full of water sports and with 11 kilometres of beach, there’s always room to watch or get onto the water to test them out. Check out more to do and see in Sauble Beach here: Sauble Beach.

2. Oliphant Beach
2. Oliphant Beach

Oliphant is the perfect mixture between a natural beach and a typical Lake Huron beach. The natural beauty of this beach entices those looking for a shallow beach and aren’t afraid of a little grass. Throughout the horizon you’ll see specs of islands, which are part of the 70+ Fishing Islands. Get out onto the water with Bruce Peninsula Boat Tours and get up close and personal with many of these islands, check out the birding opportunities, snorkelling and the stunning Caribbean blue waters.

Remember, stay on the sandy beach area - this is still a sensitive natural area, where reptiles, amphibians, birds and all manner of plant life rely on our environmental stewardship for their survival. Make sure you stay for an Oliphant sunset--they’re legendary.

Oliphant is a kiteboarders paradise. The steady crosswinds and the wide open space with the warm shallow waters create the perfect combination for all levels of riders. Interested, but don’t know where to start? Check in at Jack n Jills Surf Shop in Sauble Beach or book lessons with Sauble Beach Kite Surfing School

Also See: the fully accessible boardwalk between the private marina and the north beach features a 1.4 kilometre boardwalk with bumper boards. The path brings you through a fen, rich in wildflowers and other flora including lady slippers, orchids and carnivorous plants.

3. Lion’s Head Beach
3. Lion’s Head Beach

Although it’s on the Georgian Bay side of the peninsula, Lion’s Head offers a gorgeous sandy beach the entire family will love. Just minutes from grocery stores and restaurants, this beach also offers charcoal BBQs you’re free to use to prepare your picnic lunch. There are convenient washrooms and changerooms here, as well.

Approximately 30 kilometres of Bruce Trail can be found within walking distance of the beach, including the trails taking you to the Lion’s Head lookout, the Potholes and Giant’s Cauldron. These trails are some of the more challenging of the Bruce Trail, but once you reach the lookouts, it’ll be worth every step! Be prepared with good footwear, water, snacks and its always recommended to hike with either the Bruce Trail guidebook or app.

Did you know that Lion’s Head is part of the Dark Sky Preserve? You may be wondering what that means, well let us tell you. It means that once the sun goes down, you get a devastatingly gorgeous view of the stars. Visit the Peninsula Observation Deck beside the lighthouse at dusk every Friday and Saturday nights between Canada Day and Labour Day to be apart of the free Bayside Astronomy program. Learn about the closest stars, get a glimpse of Saturn’s rings or even see the Milky Way.

Check out more to see and do in Lion's Head here: Lion's Head

4. Black Creek Provincial Park
4. Black Creek Provincial Park

Perhaps one of the area’s best-kept secrets, Sandy Beach at Black Creek Provincial Park is a step back in time to the rugged, untouched Lake Huron shoreline of years gone by. This unserviced park offers no real amenities, but there are toilets, changerooms, picnic tables and parking for about 30 cars.

You’ll find locals sprawled out in the soft sand watching kiteboarders drift by, or wading into the refreshing, clear water, any day of the summer. Throughout the 707-acre natural environment park lies 9.4 kilometres of hiking trails, most walkable in a good pair of running shoes. On windless days, experienced paddlers can launch a canoe or kayak and to take a paddle around some of the islands.

5. Singing Sands
5. Singing Sands

The closest public beach to Tobermory on the Lake Huron side can be found 10 kilometres south just off Dorcus Bay Road. Part of the Bruce Peninsula National Park, Singing Sands beach features a 3-kilometre trail system that runs along the shoreline and into a fen that’s full of rare plants and a dune ecosystem. Here you’ll find carnivorous plants, orchids and other rare plants only found in the Great Lakes region. Here you’ll be able to park, take a hike then relax in the shallow waters.

Parking fees apply.

Bonus! Bluewater Beach in Wiarton
Bonus! Bluewater Beach in Wiarton

If you prefer the comforts of a more urban beach setting with grocery stores, cafes and restaurants, and shops all at hand, head to Bluewater Park in Wiarton. Here you’ll find a small sand beach and large, lush green park with ample parking, washrooms, a playground, splash pad, and access to hiking trails marked with historic cairns and interpretive signage. Stop by the Wiarton Willie monument and pay homage to Canada’s favourite albino weather prognosticator.

This is a great place to spend Canada Day, as the Wiarton District Optimist Club puts on a fun-filled celebration each year. The festivities kick off with a pancake breakfast early in the morning. Throughout the day, enjoy a free kids area, horseshoe and baseball tournaments, vendors, a fish fry and finally, a spectacular fireworks show to cap it all off.

Still have energy to burn? Head to the 2 km Spirit Rock Conservation Trail at the north end of town. You’ll visit the ruins of an 18th century mansion and descend a spiral staircase from the top of the Niagara Escarpment to the Georgian Bay shoreline and get a close-up look at the escarpment face on your way down.

Need more beaches?
Need more beaches?

Head over to our Beaches: Beyond Comparison page.