Beach basics

Ontario Parks beaches are prime summer destinations, particularly on weekends with beautiful weather. Our beaches welcome tens of thousands of visitors every year, and we’re proud to be part of so many happy memories.

However, especially now — when physical distancing and responsible park use are so critical — we’re asking for your help!

Here are our top 10 tips to help keep our parks safe and protected, and practice good beach etiquette:

1. Put all trash into designated receptacles, and please take larger items home

Littering is on the rise. In many parks, trash is being left on the beach faster than our staff can clean it up.

We know you can do better, Ontario.

trash on beach
Our staff recently came across this mess on a park beach…

Practice “leave no trace,” and do not leave anything on the beach. This includes:

  • broken toys, tents, and beach chairs
  • food wrappers and containers
  • cigarette butts
  • diapers (they do not decompose, even when thrown in bushes)

If you don’t appreciate people leaving garbage in your backyard, don’t leave it here!

2. Give wildlife space, and respect beach vegetation

Our beaches are important habitat.

Oak Seedling at Pinery

Never damage plants when you walk to the beach or find a place to sit, and leave driftwood where it lies.

3. Consider visiting on a Tuesday…

…or any weekday, rather than a weekend. Our beaches often reach capacity on Saturdays and Sundays, so shifting your visit to a weekday gives everyone more elbow room. There’s even a chance to have the beach to yourself, if you arrive early in the morning!

group at beach

If you do visit on a weekend, consider a morning (8:00 – 11:00 am) or evening (6:00 – 10:00 pm) visit. You’ll miss the busiest periods, get a better parking spot, and may get to witness a spectacular sunset.

4. Use only single-pole tents or small sun shelters

Our beaches have a limited amount of space, particularly with the high water levels in all Great Lakes.

Two people take selfie on beach

We’re asking you to keep your larger tents at home, or to use them in day-use areas that have more space. Ask a park staff member if you’re looking for a good spot!

5. Check with the park before bringing a barbecue to the beach

Some parks allow self-contained barbecues on the beach, while others do not.

Always use barbecues safely, on a stable surface like a picnic table, and away from vegetation like dune grasses.

6. Leave your alcohol at home

Ontario Parks beaches are not designated for public alcohol consumption. You will face a fine for having alcoholic beverages in a park anywhere other than a campsite.

7. Only bring your pup to a dog friendly beach

Many provincial parks have beaches or off-leash exercise areas where dogs are welcome.

All other beach areas are reserved for humans and wildlife.

Chocolate Lab and Goldendoodle playing at Dog Exercise area
Dogs are only allowed on certain beaches. Check whether your park has a dog beach and/or off-leash pet area

Make sure to keep your dog on leash at all times, unless you’re in a designated off-leash area. Always clean up after your dog, and never allow your pooch to chase wildlife or bother other visitors.

8. Follow current health guidelines

We’re counting on people to be responsible when enjoying our parks, and continue to follow all of the current public health advice.

woman wearing blue Ontario Parks mask

This includes physical distancing, wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge, and washing hands regularly with soap and water (or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, if soap and water are not available).

9. Bring along some extra kindness and consideration

In addition to water, sunscreen, your bathing suit and a beach towel, make sure you take along a positive attitude and respect for others.

two people playing frisbee on beach
Planning games? Make sure you’ve got space to play safely and without inconveniencing fellow beach-goers

Especially on popular or busy beaches, consider how much space is available around you, and be respectful to other beach-goers, park staff, and the environment. We’d like everyone to leave with as many positive interactions as possible.

10. Leave the park in better condition than when you arrived

Want to go above and beyond?

balloons and garbage in a heap on a beach

Consider packing some extra reusable gloves to collect trash left by previous visitors, orphaned balloons, or plastics washed up from the lake.

We’re all in this together

A beach is the perfect place to relax with family and friends, and these tips will help you have a fun, conflict-free day – and possibly even make you a beach superhero.