Sandbanks Provincial Park is one of the busiest parks in the province, welcoming over 800,000 visitors in 2020!
Many summer days — especially weekends — Sandbanks hits capacity and can’t welcome any more visitors. This year, you need to book your day use permit in advance to guarantee entry.
We really hate to turn away visitors, especially knowing many have driven several hours to get here.
Planning a trip to Sandbanks? Check out our top tips for a fun and frustration-free visit:
- Do I need a day-use reservation?
- How do I know if the park is already at capacity?
- When is the best/worst time to visit?
- I made a camping reservation — do I wait in the same line?
- The park’s already full / the line’s too long…now what?
- Can you recommend a good beach other than Sandbanks?
- The beach is really busy. What else can I do at the park?
- Where can I get lunch?
- What are the park hours?
- How much does it cost to get in?
- Can I stay overnight?
- Where can I park?
- What kind of accessibility does the park provide?
- Can I rent a canoe or other watercraft?
- Can I rent a picnic shelter?
- Can I bring my dog?
- Can I bring a barbecue?
- What should / shouldn’t I pack?
- Is your beach safe to swim in?
- Does Sandbanks have ticks or poison ivy?
- Why is access restricted in some areas?
Yes, you need to book your permit in advance to guarantee entry.
Our park is getting more and more popular, but we only have room for a limited number of visitors each day.
Daily vehicle permits will become available at 7:00 a.m., five days in advance of your arrival date. Reservations can be made online (here’s a walkthrough of how to book, including how to use your seasonal permit).
You can print off your advance daily vehicle permit at home and display it on your vehicle’s dashboard to bypass the line to check in at our Main gate or West Lake gate. If you do not have access to a printer, please check in at one of our gates to receive a printed copy to display.
Please note: Beach parking is subject to capacity limits and while your DVP provides you with a parking spot, you may not find a spot at your desired beach and may need to park at a different lot.
2. How do I know if the park is already at capacity?
On busy days, weekends, and when advance permits are fully reserved, park staff will provide capacity updates on Twitter.
You can also visit our reservation website to check whether space is available on the date of your visit.
3. When is the best/worst time to visit?
Sandbanks often reaches capacity on summer days. To avoid disappointment, book your permit in advance.
Got your permit booked? Your access is guaranteed no matter what time you arrive, but if you’d like to secure a spot in your favourite area of the park or beach, we recommend arriving early. The park is busiest between 11:00 am – 3:00 pm on hot summer days.
One of the best times to visit Sandbanks is during the spring and fall shoulder seasons. Beat the crowds by visiting in May and June, or after Labour Day.
Please visit our Alerts page or social media accounts for updates to park and beach conditions.
4. I made a camping reservation — do I wait in the same line?
Please note: Sandbanks is no longer able to accommodate early camping arrivals due to increased visitation and traffic. Please arrive after 2:00 pm as noted in your confirmation letter.
In an effort to minimize traffic congestion, visitors with camping reservations are reminded that check-in time on your arrival date is after 2:00 pm. A campsite permit is valid upon check-in after 2:00 pm on the day of arrival and until 10:00 pm on the day of departure.
To help disperse volume of arrivals, visitors with camping reservations in West Lake, Woodlands, and Richardson’s are encouraged to check in at the West Lake Campground office. This office is located at 2109 County Road 12 across from the Dunes day use area.
5. Looking to make the most of your visit to the area?
NOTE: please confirm each attraction is open and available during your visit.
- take the kids to the Picton splash pad and playground
- go for ice cream
- get out and explore the Millennium Trail
- play a round of miniature golf or County BINGO
- visit an art gallery or explore the Arts Trail
- take a tour of a local winery, craft brewery or cidery
- explore local shops in PEC or go antiquing
- take a walk down the wide streets lined with historic buildings in Belleville’s Downtown District. Check out this guide to shopping locally in Belleville!
Absolutely, but please note that these parks also require you to reserve your daily vehicle permit in advance to guarantee access.
Nearby North Beach Provincial Park boasts the same soft sands and rolling waves.
Try another beach. Outlet Beach is the busiest, so visit Dunes or Lakeshore.
Note: Lakeshore Beach is radio free.
Take a hike. Sandbanks’ walking trails let you experience the park’s dune and wetland habitats.
Go for a paddle. Bring your own watercraft, or rent a canoe, kayak or SUP (rental details below).
Visit the Discovery Centre. Located at the West Lake Campground gatehouse across from the Dunes Beach. The Centre has brand new displays, as well as staff available to answer all of your questions about the park, its habitats, history, plants and animals.
8. Where can I get lunch?
Grab lunch at the restaurant in Sandbanks’ park store on main Outlet Beach.
Feeling crowded? Head into town for lunch and enjoy the rich tastes of the county or enjoy a local patio.
Looking to cool down and enjoy a meal after a long day at the beach? Discover the delicious variety of cafes, restaurants, and patios downtown Belleville has to offer.
9. What are the park hours?
10. How much does it cost to get in?
11. Can I stay overnight?
Yes, but Sandbanks is an extremely popular summer camping destination and fills up very quickly. Book early or plan a shoulder season trip.
Did you know Sandbanks has two roofed accommodations available and are often under-booked during the spring and fall seasons?
12. Where can I park?
All three beach areas have parking. When it’s busy, we recommend snagging the first spot you can find.
13. What kind of accessibility does the park provide?
During the summer, Mobi Mats create an accessible path through the sand, starting at the Park Store and heading out onto the beach. These help make the beach more accessible to anyone using assistive devices like wheelchairs, walkers, and canes.
14. Can I rent a canoe or kayak?
Yes, but please note that our rental program operates on a first come, first served basis.
Rentals cost $50 for four hours, and require a $200 deposit.
Watercrafts can launch from Woodyard or Outlet River boat launch, and paddle the river outside of designated swimming areas.
Sandbanks is one of 70 provincial parks offering free PFD (personal flotation device) rentals. You can find PFDs at the West Lake gatehouse and the Woodyard.
15. Can I rent a picnic shelter?
Yes, picnic shelters can be rented online.
16. Can I bring my dog?
For sure! Just keep your pup on a leash (no longer than 2 m).
17. Can I bring a barbecue?
Barbecues are permitted, but they must be self-contained.
- propane BBQs are permitted
- charcoal BBQs are NOT permitted on the beach or day use area (they are permitted on registered campsites)
18. What should / shouldn’t I pack?
What you should definitely pack: sunscreen, hat, water, snacks, swimwear, lifejackets for kids, change of clothes, towels, bug spray (DEET), reusable picnic items
What you shouldn’t pack: alcohol (only permitted on your campsite, not on the beach), firewood (no campfires on beach), drones
We don’t recommend packing: floaties/inflatables, large pieces of beach shelter (including volleyball nets, oversized umbrellas or sun shelters as these can be hard to place on busy days), radios, single-use plastics (such as water bottles, cups, plates, and cutlery)
*You can find garbage cans located throughout the park, and we encourage visitors to practice the “pack it in, pack it out” method. Please be prepared to bring larger items of garbage (such as broken chairs or beach umbrellas) home with you.
19. Is the beach safe to swim in?
Yes, unless otherwise posted. The beach’s water quality is tested every week. Any advisories will be posted on the Ontario Parks Alerts page.
Please be aware of undertow conditions on Lake Ontario during windy days.
Visitors are reminded there are no lifeguards; water safety your responsibility. Please monitor the weather and exercise caution.
20. Does Sandbanks have ticks or poison ivy?
Tick safety: Ticks are common throughout Ontario, including at Sandbanks. To protect yourself from Lyme Disease, follow these safety tips.
Poison ivy: We remove poison ivy from campsites and designated park trails, but it’s still prevalent in park, especially on the dunes between parking lots and beach.
21. Why is access restricted in some areas?
On your trip to the beach you may encounter post and rope fencing, closed trails, and restricted areas, but why?
Not unlike many of our visitors, our environment may also require rest and relaxation, time away from the pressures of the everyday, to recharge.
Some of our most popular campsites, trails, or picnic spots, may succumb to overuse and need time to regenerate to avoid any long-term damage. Additionally, our hardworking dune grasses need room to do the work of stabilizing our dunes, holding the formations in place.
Please respect the boundaries and signage erected by park staff and allow elements of Sandbanks’ hardworking ecosystems to recover and do their job. Use designated entry and exit points on and off the beach, as well as designated trails, to avoid inflicting any unnecessary harm.