Can I swim in Lake Ontario? Is it safe to swim in Lake Ontario? But where would I swim even if it is safe?
Have you ever asked yourself one (or all) of these questions? Here are the answers to those questions and five Lake Ontario beaches to explore this weekend.
Can I swim in Lake Ontario?
Yes! Lake Ontario offers fantastic swimming at many beaches. Not all beaches are ‘public beaches’, some are naturally occurring ‘wild beaches’ along Lake Ontario’s shoreline. Local Health Units often test water quality at public beaches and lifeguards may supervise swimmers in designated swimming areas.
Is it safe to swim in Lake Ontario?
Water quality constantly changes and nature is wild, so we never say a waterbody is ‘safe’. Based on information from local Health Units, we can say the water quality ‘met criteria’ or ‘failed to meet criteria’ (“pass” or “fail” in Swim Guide parlance). In Ontario, water quality is measured using the provincial Recreational Water Protocol, 2018 guidelines. Learn more about the changes made to these guidelines earlier this year, here.
Downloading the Swim Guide app is the best way to stay informed.
Five Lake Ontario beaches to explore this weekend:
1. Gord Edgar Downie Pier
Gord Edgar Downie Pier at Breakwater Park is Lake Ontario’s newest deep-water swimming pier and reconnects people with Kingston’s waterfront. Dive off the pier into the lake, wade into the water from the inner pier, or enjoy the sandy upland beaches. With its beautiful waterfront views, the Gord Edgar Downie Pier deserves to be one of your long weekend destinations.
2. Frenchman’s Bay West
Frenchman’s Bay West is a kilometer-long sandy beach in Pickering. Part of Frenchman’s Bay Park West, this location is a designated Environmentally Sensitive Area. This beach offers some of the area’s best surfing and kiteboarding, and is a great place to enjoy the Lake Ontario.
3. Hanlan’s Point
Hanlan’s Point is located on Toronto Island and is a popular spot for Toronto beachgoers. This sandy beach is a ‘Blue Flag’ beach, a status awarded to beaches meeting strict water quality standards. Remember to check the ferry schedule when planning your visit.
4. Beachway Park
Beachway Park offers a beautiful two-kilometer stretch of naturally sandy beach in Burlington. Find concession stands, changing rooms, and over 6 acres of park space. Beachway Park is adjacent to the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail and has both walking and cycling paths.
5. Fifty Point Conservation Beach
Fifty Point Conservation Beach is part of Hamilton’s Fifty Point Conservation Area. This beach offers warm waters for swimming, changing rooms and lots of shady areas to cool off. The conservation area is also a fantastic fishing spot for new and experienced fishers.
When visiting any beach, it’s important to follow the 48-hour rule. For 48 hours after it rains, avoid contact with the water. This simple rule helps reduce exposure to bacteria and waterborne illnesses. Wet weather can increase pollutants in our waterways, including sewage.
No matter which beach you visit, jumping into your local waters is one of the best ways to get to know them. Begin your relationship with Lake Ontario by going for a swim. After all, summer happens by the water.
Visit Swim Guide’s Beach Basics blog for helpful hints on spending time at the water.
Looking for more ways to explore the Great Lakes?
Visit Great Lakes Guide for inspiration and activity ideas to get outside.