Montreal in the summertime is nothing short of paradise. We’ve got the best rooftop bars for al fresco drinking and dining, an endless schedule of the best festivals and events, and plenty of Montreal parks to waste away hours picnicking and soaking up the sun. Few things, however, can beat the combination of sun and sand. Whether you’re in the mood for relaxing on the shore or cooling off with refreshing swim, these are the best beaches in Montreal on and off the island.
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Best beaches in Montreal
A few kilometers outside of Montreal’s core, Oka Beach is located in Oka National Park. Aside from the beach area, you’ll find everything you need here, from campsites and picnic areas to cycling and walking trails. Word to the wise, the beach—while open to the public—has two distinct sections: The family-friendly side and the adult-only side, where swimwear is optional and nudity is encouraged. It shouldn’t take you long to figure out which one is which.
Easily accessible by metro or by foot, Jean-Doré Beach is conveniently located on Parc Jean-Drapeau, the same island festival-goers flock to for the likes of Osheaga and Piknic Electronik. It may be manmade, but Jean-Doré boasts 15,000 square meters of outdoor space and is home to activities for all ages, from paddle board yoga to beach volleyball.
Clock Tower Beach is located right in Montreal’s Old Port, making it the ideal spot to unwind after a long day without having to venture too far from the city centre. The urban beach venue is essentially part bar and part park, trading in traditional terrasse seating in favor of sand, plastic chairs and parasols. A little slice of the city reminiscent of the French Rivieria, it’s also a great spot to watch the International Fireworks Festival.
Located about half an hour from downtown Montreal, this nature park feels more like a hidden gem in the country than a big city suburb, and the beach here is no exception. Come here for a more relaxed, secluded beach day and enjoy some impromptu birdwatching between dips in the blue.
If you’re looking for a traditional beach experience, look no further than Cap-Saint-Jacques Nature Park. This charming beach and nature park located in Pierrefonds is the go-to spot for many West Island residents, and for good reason. The natural sand beach is regularly tested “excellent” in terms of water quality—an important factor to consider when swimming in lakes and rivers—and the surrounding park offers everything from picnic areas and walking trails to food trucks and a small farm with organic produce for purchase.
Located about an hour outside of the city centre, Saint-Zotique Beach is a great spot to waste away a sunny summer afternoon. With over five kilometres of waterfront and a healthy handful of available on-site activities (think: pedal boats, barbecue stations and tennis courts) there’s something for every kind of beach-goer.
Pointe-Calumet Beach has become synonymous with Beach Club, the rowdy adult-only outdoor club, but the beach is actually divided into two sections: One for those who are down for day drinking and dancing, while the other is for families and those looking for a more laid-back day in the sun. If you’re going for the Top Gun-esque volleyball experience during your next day at the beach, this is the spot.
A little less than half an hour outside of the city centre, RécréoParc Beach boasts natural sand, supervised swimming and lake-like water. While folks tend to flock here in the summer for an urban camping experience, there’s also an indoor restaurant on the premises for those who need a break from the sand and sun, or at least to grab a drink before heading back out into it.
Accessible by car or bus, St. Timothée Islands Regional Park Beach has excellent water quality, rescue staff on-site, and recreational fittings for rent like kayaks and pedal boat rentals. The crystal-clear water and surrounding greenery are almost enough to feel as though you’ve escaped to The Laurentians without leaving the city.
While not exactly the sandy locale you might expect, these waterfalls an hour north of the city supply a secluded spot by Lac Masson for dipping in the frothy water of its naturally formed pools. It’s rocky but has all the trappings of a relaxing beach. While it’s open to all to bring picnics and parties, it’s also a popular dating and hookup spot, so be respectful if you plan on visiting—or suggest a trip there on Grindr.
An hour’s drive westward from the city centre, this provincial park’s an easy roadtrip that worth the drive. It sports four beaches in total along the Ottawa River and each have their own water sport rentals, showers and spots to barbecue. Couple that with the fishing opportunities, playgrounds for the kids and spots to camp to find that a daytrip here can easily turn into a weekend getaway.