9 family-friendly beaches in Atlantic Canada

Swimming, sandcastle building and more! There's so much fun to be had at these family-friendly beaches.

Photo: New Brunswick Tourism
Parlee Beach, Photo: New Brunswick Tourism

Whether you’re planning on flying to the East Coast for a vacation or just driving an hour out of town, your family will be sure to have plenty of summertime fun at these family-friendly beaches!

P.E.I.

1. Cavendish Beach
Explore the crystal-blue water and red cliffs of Cavendish Beach! You’ll have your hands full with plenty of regularly scheduled, kid-friendly programming like sand-sculpture lessons and dune exploring. The beach has lifeguard supervised swimming areas from July through August. There are on-site change rooms, washrooms and showers, but dogs are not allowed (sorry, Spot!). If you’re vacationing in the area, make sure to try glow-in-the-dark mini-golfing at Black Magic Indoor Blacklight Mini Golf and zipping down waterslides at Shining Waters Family Fun Park. There’s also a large country music festival that happens during the second week of July. If you want a quiet beach experience, you might want to avoid booking your trip during this period. Entrance is $20 per car.

Go play:
North Shore, Cavendish
(902) 963-7830
cavendishbeachpei.com>

2. Singing Sands Beach
Just an hour from Charlottetown, Singing Sands Beach offers white sandy shores that are just begging to be played in—make sure to bring shovels and pails. Have your kiddos splash around in the crystal-clear tides after building a sandcastle in the singing sands! Washrooms, change rooms and on-site lifeguards (on duty July through August) are all on location. If your little ones get hungry, you can buy food at the cafeteria and eat at one of the many open-air picnic tables. Later, you can grab some ice cream at the on-site stand because no beach day is complete without a frozen treat. If you’re looking to get out of the sun, go visit the gift shop or fisheries museum. Parents with babies will appreciate the stroller-friendly boardwalks running through the beach. The drop-off point into the beach area is also wheelchair accessible.

Go play:
Basin Head Provincial Park, Off Route 16, east of Souris
(902)-357-7230
tourismpei.com>

3. Brackley Beach
Brackley Beach is located in the northern part of the P.E.I. National Park of Canada and is home to sandstone cliffs, wetlands and forests with lots of cool animals. Go for a swim at the beach and then dig into a picnic lunch—there are tables available on-site. When your tots are done swimming, there’s playground equipment for swinging and sliding on. Amenities include change rooms, showers, drinking fountains and washrooms. The beach offers supervised swimming, accessible entry and designated parking for those with limited mobility. Special beach wheelchairs are available to those who need them. Aside from taking a dip in the cool ocean waters, there are plenty of activities for you and the family to do at Brackley Beach. Kids will enjoy participating in sand-sculpting classes, adventuring with Parks Canada Xplorers program (for an extra fee) or exploring the Discovery Dome where they can get up-close-and-personal with a lobster. Brackley Beach also has small shops and restaurants and is home to P.E.I.’s only drive-in theatre!

Go play:
Brackley Point Road, Brackley Beach
(902) 672-6350

brackleypei.com>

Nova Scotia

4. Martinique Beach
This beach is the longest in the province and is only one hour away from Halifax. Enjoy pure white sand on this crescent-shaped beach—perfect for the kiddos to beachcomb! The waters are supervised during July and August at this provincial park and the hard-surfaced paths along the beach are convenient for stroller-pushers. Changing houses and washrooms are available on-site. Pack a picnic and eat it behind the dunes, overlooking the water, or you can visit one of the nearby cafés. If you plan on visiting this beach on a weekend, arrive early because parking is limited in the summer.

Go play:
2389 East Petpeswick Rd., East Petpeswick
(800)-565-0000

novascotia.com>

5. Clam Harbour Provincial Park
Bask in the sun and natural sand of Clam Harbour Beach. This beach has a family-friendly tidal stream that runs down one side. Bring inflatables for the kids so they can float down the stream as many times as they wish. However, if you want a supervised swim for your little fishies, plan to visit on the weekend, as lifeguards are only on duty weekends in July and August. Facilities include boardwalks, hiking trails, change rooms, showers and washrooms. Pack a picnic and eat it in the picnic area on top of a bluff. Make sure to check out the sandcastle competition if you’re visiting in August!

Go play:
158 Beach Rd., Clam Harbour, Eastern Shore
(902) 662-3030
novascotia.com>

6. Ingonish Beach and Freshwater Lake
A swim with a view! This is one of the most scenic beaches in the province. Ingonish offers the best of both worlds: A fresh, warm swim in lake water and a cool dip in the salty Atlantic Ocean. A centuries-old dividing wall made of stones separates the two. Cool, right? Little ones who don’t like the cold ocean water will find the lake water comforting. Amenities include washrooms, change rooms, a playground, a picnic area and a canteen open in July and August. Lifeguards are only available during these months at both beaches. Though your kids won’t be able to run around with the family dog at this beach, they can run off their energy at one of the tennis courts or at the soccer field.

Go play:
90 Beach Road, Ingonish Beach, Cape Breton Highlands
(902)-224-2306
novascotia.com>

Newfoundland

7. Salmon Cove Sands
You and the family will love this heart-shaped beach, perfect for swimming and sandcastle building. Unlike most other beaches, lifeguards are on duty from June to August. There are washrooms and change rooms on-site. If you don’t feel like packing a lunch to eat in the picnic area, there are concession stands at the beach. Cliffs ready to be hiked surround the smooth sands. Older kids can join in on the 2 km hike if they feel up to it. Families with wee ones will appreciate the stroller-friendly boardwalk that gives you access to the beach area. Kids under 12 years old are free, adults are $2.50 and a carload is $7.

Go play:
Beach Rd., off Route 70, Salmon Cove, Conception Bay
(709)-596-0860
newfoundlandandlabrador.com>

New Brunswick

8. Parlee Beach
Good news for tots with chilly feet (and parents who hate cold water): This beach boasts that it has the warmest salt water in Canada! Parlee offers a plethora of activities that will surely keep your older swimmers entertained—volleyball, football, sand-sculpture competitions, various scheduled sports activities and supervised swimming. Little tots can pick up some shells, chase the hermit crabs and splash around near the shoreline. If you plan on visiting in July, be aware there are jellyfish. For $11 a day, you get access to the beach with all its amenities: Change rooms, showers, washrooms, a playground, a picnic area, canteen, restaurant, ampitheatre and plenty of parking space. Nearby there are shops, restaurants, marinas, accommodations and the World’s Largest Lobster sculpture–you definitely need a photo with that!

Go play:
45 Parlee Beach Rd., Pointe-du-Chêne
(506)-533-3363

tourismnewbrunswick.ca>

9. Lillas Fawcett Park and Silver Lake
If your family loves to fish and relax on a boat, then this spot is for you. Located in Sackville, this freshwater lake has a marked swimming area and is supervised by a lifeguard during the afternoons. Boats have access to the lake through a public ramp, while fishers can release their reels along the bank or near the boat launch. There are change rooms on-site and there’s a small playground the kids can enjoy when they’re done swimming. No day of fun is complete without some swinging and sliding. Access to the park is free.

Go play:
110 Main St., Sackville
(506)-364-4955
tourismnewbrunswick.ca>

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