Southwestern Ontario swimming spots

Pavilion Road Beach Bayfield

Stuck in this neverending heat wave, I wish I was spending the summer back in Huron County. In these dog days of summer, there’s no better place to be than a peaceful beach on the shores of Lake Huron. Looking to cool off but wondering where to go? Here’s my list of the best swimming spots in Southwestern Ontario…

#3. Port Elgin

Port Elgin

Photo by Samantha Ramsay

When we were younger, it was always a great day when the family made a trip up to Bruce County to spend a day at Port Elgin beach. Stone-free sand and shallow water make this beach perfect for kids. If you go on a Wednesday, you can hunt for treasures at the Flea Market. The town has a relaxed and non-pretentious atmosphere, with several interesting shops to poke around in.


#2. Pavillion Road Beach, Bayfield

Giving away my ‘secret’ beach spot although most locals will know of this spot at the end of Pavilion, a long dirt road just south of Bayfield.

Admittedly, there are quite a lot of rocks at the water’s edge but once you swim out a few meters it’s sandy. And if you’re really up for a swimming mission you can swim out far to the big flat rock:

Flat Rock at Pavilion Road Beach

There’s a family picnic spot at the top with washrooms, picnic tables and maybe even a grill if I remember. You may get a bit winded from the stairs up from the beach, but having the place to yourself makes it all worth it.


#1. Pinery Provincial Park

(Nearby Port Franks beach used to be a favourite, but the Port Franks Beach Homeowners Association have put up signs discouraging visitors so I’m not sure it’s an option anymore.)

Pinery Provincial Park tops the list as my favourite swimming spot.

Pinery Kayak

A day pass is $16 and you can easily spend a full day exploring the trails, taking part in something from the activity schedule or swimming, of course. Beautiful sand dune beaches and shallow water that’s crystal clear. The water always seems a bit warmer than other beaches here, maybe because it’s so shallow. There are lot of beaches within the park to choose from and they’re quiet, peaceful and in a beautiful natural setting.

Pinery boardwalk

The park is full of wildlife too. It’s one of the only habitats for the Southern Flying Squirrel – hopefully someday I can go on a nocturnal walk and see one! In the meantime, I’ll have to be content to spot the commoners:

Pinery toad

Do you have a favourite spot for swimming in Southwestern Ontario?

side note: I have vague memories of swimming in a gravel pit somewhere in Huron County when I was younger. Can’t remember where it was but it was fun, although a bit scary!

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