Summer is just starting to get underway and undoubtedly there are some hot days ahead. When the sweltering temperatures reach their sticky humid high I start to daydream about lying on a beach somewhere. I’ve swam in just about everything from oceans to rivers and I have my clear favorites (the Mediterranean Sea being one of them) but in Canada the main water relief is usually found in lakes.
I can’t say I’ve been to many great Canadian beaches but there is one strip of sandy paradise that has stayed with me over the years. Sandbanks Provincial Park is the perfect combination of clean seaweed-free water, great waves and soft sand, sheltered by gently sloping dunes. Located about an hour’s drive from Kingston (or two hours from Toronto), this park is nestled in the picturesque countryside of Prince Edward County. Although Prince Edward County is technically a headland there is a distinct island feel to the area. If you’re coming from the East you would probably end up taking the Glenora ferry across.
There aren’t many big towns, the largest being Picton, but there are lots of interesting things to see and do in the area. Before driving over to Sandbanks you might want to stop at one of the many farms or orchards where you can pick your own fruit. There are plenty of the usual strawberry farms and apple orchards but I also remember having had the opportunity to pick my own blueberries. It is great to have something sweet to snack on while you’re lying on a beach.
Sandbanks Provincial Park is more than just a beach — there are campgrounds and hiking trails and people also take advantage of the great waves to try windsurfing or sailing. Picnicking is allowed so between all the splashing around in the water we would usually just have lunch right on the beach. The really interesting thing about Sandbanks is how far you can swim from the shore and still be able to reach the bottom with your toes. On really great days there were usually waves which made the lake seem like an actual sea. As a kid I loved the feeling of flying that I got from jumping into the crest of a wave and being lifted off my feet.
After an entire day at the beach we would usually take a twisted road back through Prince Edward County stopping at several wineries on our way home. My favorite is the Waupoos Estates Winery and as a kid I loved eating at their restaurant on the outdoor patio with a view out onto the grapevines leading down to the lake. As I got older I also grew to appreciate the good wine that came with the good food. The relaxed countryside of Prince Edward County was the perfect getaway on a hot summer day and I can’t wait to go back there again.