The Best Beaches Near Montreal, Canada

The quiet Clock Tower Beach, Old Port in Montreal, Canada
The quiet Clock Tower Beach, Old Port in Montreal, Canada | © chrisuk1 / Getty Images
Photo of Culture Trip
21 May 2020

No coastline, no problem. If you’re heading to Canada, Montreal might not be your first thought when planning a beach break, but Quebec’s biggest city is not short of options when it comes to stunning waterside spots. Grab your swimming gear and discover the best beaches less than a couple of hours’ drive away.

Montreal may be better known for its vibrant Francophone culture and burgeoning foodie scene than its beach credentials, but the feeling of sand between your toes and a refreshing dip is just a brief ride away from the city. From playing beach volleyball on l’Île Charron to connecting with nature in Oka National Park, Montreal is blessed with a number of varied beach options – some of which are even accessible via public transport.

Oka beach

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Set within the nature-lover’s paradise that is Oka National Park, sandy Oka beach boasts fantastic views of the Lac des Deux Montagnes (Lake of the Two Mountains) and is a popular spot for sunbathing, barbecuing and getting out on the water with kayaks, canoes or pedal boats. Equipment for watersports, as well as snowshoeing, sledding and cross-country skiing, can be rented on site. Free to enter, Oka Beach is located just 59km (36mi) from Montreal and is accessible by car all year round, while Navette Nature runs a limited shuttle service from central Montreal to the park.

L'Île Charron beach

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A mere 30km (18.6mi) from Montreal, L’Île Charron beach is free to access and open year-round. This swathe of soft sand, on the southern shore of Longueil, is a prime swimming destination, but also home to volleyball courts and a public golf course. An ideal choice for a day trip, L’Île Charron beach is accessible via public transport during the summer months – take the RTL Bus des Îles shuttle on summer weekends from the Longueuil–Université-de-Sherbrooke metro station, or the Croisières Navark riverboat.

Jean-Doré beach

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Car, metro and bike accessible, Jean-Doré beach is a cinch to get to from downtown Montreal. Set in Parc Jean Drapeau on Île Notre-Dame, this sandy spot has a 15,000sqm (161,458sqft) swimming area and plenty of other activities besides: Aquazilla inflatable slides, volleyball, kayaking and paddleboarding, to name just a few. To get there via the metro, exit at Jean-Drapeau station, walk to the left of the metro exit and catch the 767 bus. Please note that there is an entrance fee: $4.50 (USD3.25) for children aged 3-13 years, and $9 (USD$6.44) for anyone 14 and older.

Plage Saint-Zotique

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This sandy stretch, on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River, is a draw for dedicated sunbathers and active beachgoers alike, with inflatable obstacle courses, waterslides, volleyball, pedalos and playgrounds on offer. Less than 70km (43mi) from Montreal it is most accessible by car, although the train can take you as far as Coteau from central Montreal, after which point you can take a taxi. The beach is free, but there is a cost for equipment rental.

Major Beach

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At 97km (60mi) from Montreal, Major Beach is a bit of a commitment to get to – but this tree-lined sandy beach is worth the effort. Set on the Lac des Sables, close to the charming town of Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, this secluded bay is fully equipped for days out, with free parking, outdoor showers and snack bar. After some time taking in the sunshine, rent a kayak, canoe, pedalo or paddle board to take the action out onto the water. Those who’d rather get their kicks on land can enjoy a game of beach volleyball.

Saint-Timothée beach

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If you’re looking for exhilarating waves rather than calm shallows, Saint-Timothée beach is a no-brainer. Thanks to its location on Île-Papineau within the Saint Lawrence River (50km, 31mi, from Montreal), this sandy beach can welcome some decent waves. Nonetheless, a special enclosed section for young children means it’s still a safe family favourite. Consider pairing a dip in the river with a bike ride along the beachside cycle path, a stroll on the various hiking trails, or a jaunt out on the water in a kayak or canoe. Bear in mind that Saint-Timothée beach has an admission fee: children and seniors CAD$6 (USD4.30), adults CAD10 (USD7).

Clock Tower Beach

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Beaches near Montreal are one thing, but how about a beach actually in downtown Montreal? The Clock Tower Beach (Plage de l’Horloge) sits on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River next to the Montreal Clock Tower in the Old Port, offering a taste seaside life in the middle of the city during the summer months. Opened in 2012, the urban sandy beach has plenty of lounge chairs, parasols and showers, along with a bar and boardwalk. While you can’t swim here, the misting stations around the beach will certainly help you cool off. Pro tip: entrance is free until 5pm, at which point the beach turns into a bar area with an admission fee.

Cap-Saint-Jacques National Park Beach

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Set on a peninsula at the northwestern tip of the island of Montreal, Cap-St-Jacques is the city’s largest park, and home to one of the best beaches on the island. With calm waters perfect for swimming, the natural sandy beach is backed by verdant woodland and fields, ideal for cycling, hiking and generally connecting with nature. Pedalos, kayaks and paddle boards are available to rent, while general admission to the waterfront is is CAD4.75 (USD3.40), with seniors and kids aged 6-17 paying just CAD3.25 (USD2.30). While you’re there be sure to pay a visit to the Cap-St-Jacques organic farm. The drive from downtown Montreal takes around 35 minutes, but the beach can be reached via a combination of metro and buses in under 2 hours.

These recommendations were updated on May 21, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.