Trade palm trees for pines and firs and you have one of the world's dreamiest beach destinations -- Canada. The Great White North may not be praised for its hot temperatures and turquoise waters, but it's a place where you can still enjoy the peace and beauty of a beach all to yourself. Throw in some excellent swimming, boating, fishing, surfing, shelling and other must-do beach activities, and you have a beach destination that rivals those in the Caribbean.
The following are five of Canada's best beach destinations for those who want to sink their toes into the sand without costly plane tickets or travel delays.
Long Beach, British Columbia
Long Beach is no secret to Canadian beach lovers, but as the name implies, this 10-kilometre stretch of coastline offers plenty of room for beachcombers to spread out. Long Beach is grouped with other Pacific Rim Park beaches, so despite the region seeing roughly one million tourists each year, you're bound to feel a bit secluded. The unique rainforest backdrop, migrating grey whales (in spring and summer), ideal surfing waves and picture-perfect scenery are just a few reasons to start packing your bags and your flip flops.
Wasaga Beach, Ontario
Many beach enthusiasts know that Vancouver Island offers postcard-worthy beach scenery, but they don't know that Ontario does too. In less than a 2-hour drive north of Toronto, city dwellers can be on the world's largest freshwater beach -- Wasaga Beach. This Canadian beach hotspot is actually home to eight individual beaches, a Main Street Mall and plenty of attractions for kids and adults. The picturesque stretch of sand does see crowds, but you can always find solitude and adventure in Wasaga's towering sand dunes.
Bennett Beach, Yukon
Packing your beach bag for a trip to the Yukon may sound crazy, but Bennett Beach offers 2 km of sandy paradise. This powdery white sand beach sits with snow-capped mountains in the background and the historic town of Carcross steps away. Whether you're seeking a place to stretch your legs on the route between Whitehorse and Skagway, Alaska, or this scenic beach is your destination, there's no doubt you'll want to take plenty of time to wade in the crystal clear waters and snap photos of the panoramic views.
Manitou Beach, Saskatchewan
Manitou Beach is one of the strangest beaches you'll ever visit, and you'll probably never want to leave. Leave your rafts behind, because Little Manitou Lake's water is so salty that you can lie in it without getting your magazine wet. Fortunately, the beaches' public showers offer welcoming places to rinse away the salt. The area, located just 1.5 hours southeast of Saskatoon, is equipped with nearby camping, golf, playgrounds, the mineral spa at Manitou Beach Village, a drive-in movie theater and plenty of other family-friendly fun.
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Best time to travel: April, May, September, October Average price: $700 to $900 Why you want to go: Even if the Euro scares you more than the U.S. dollar does, Spain is still considered a budget-friendly country with low accommodation costs. "Spain has something for every traveller's needs whether it be a relaxing beach vacation in Malaga, exploring the Alhambra Palace in Granada or visiting the famed Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Spain is also famous for their tapas and you can get tapas and drink for $5," says Rishi Modi of travel deal site Next Departure.
Best time to travel: April, May, September, October Average price: $700 to $900 Why you want to go: For Canadians, Lisbon is one of the cheaper European cities to fly into. "It's a lively city with delicious seafood and cheap drinks. Take advantage of its inexpensive public transit to visit the historic Sintra, go to a winery in Porto and enjoy the Mediterranean weather on a beach in Faro."
Best time to travel: December to March Average price: $900 to $1,200 Why you want to go: Getting to Thailand can be pricey depending on the time you go, but once you're there, everything can fit into your budget. "Food from street vendors and markets costs you $4 to $5 and accommodations can run you as low as $20 a night [depending where you stay]. Thailand has tons of attractions to offer travellers, from trekking in the jungles of Chiang Mai to relaxing on tropical islands like Ko Samui."
Best time to travel: October to May Average price: $900 to $1,200 Why you want to go: Marrakech was named Tripadvisor's number one destination in 2015, according to travellers. "Explore the ancient palaces, shop in the markets of Marrakech and stay overnight in the Sahara desert. Food is inexpensive in local restaurants and street stalls, while accommodations are reasonably priced."
Best time to travel: Depending if you go north or south, you want to avoid cold or rainy seasons. Late December is usually the best. Average price: $900 to $1,100 Why you want to go: If you're an urban explorer or nature lover, Vietnam offers both. "Vietnam is another South Asian destination that continues to be budget-friendly with beautiful sights, including cruising along Halong Bay and visiting the rice terraces. Food is remarkably cheap — a meal and beer can cost under $3."
Best time to travel: April, May, September, October Average price: $900 to $1,100 Why you want to go: If you want to go to Europe and still have spending money, Modi suggests avoiding popular destinations like France and Italy and opting for Eastern Europe instead. "From Hungary to Romania to Bulgaria, these Eastern European countries are rich in diverse culture and its modern and historical architecture."
Best time to travel: April, May, September, October Average price: $700 to $900 Why you want to go: "Peru is known for its geographic diversity, from exploring the vast Amazon jungle to hiking the Inca Trail to relaxing on the beach coast," he says. But Peru’s most famous attraction is the ancient site of Machu Picchu — a must-see if you decide to go to this South American country.
Best time to travel: April, May, September, October Average price: $1,000 to $1,200 Why you want to go: Indonesia has thousands of islands and Bali is one of the most luxurious and popular ones. "Food and hotels are extremely cheap, where you can enjoy tasty meals from $1 to $2 and spend as little as $20 per night on accommodations." However, if you do plan on renting out a villa or eating on Seminyak's main tourist strip, it can feel like dining and living in a major Canadian city.
Best time to travel: January to March; September to November Average price: $600 to $1,000 Why you want to go: If you haven't been to Cuba, you probably know several Canadians who have — the Caribbean island is one of the most popular beach destinations for Canucks. "All-inclusive packages are affordable and offer a bang for your buck. If you’re really flexible, you can often find last-minute cheap deals on flights and all-inclusive packages."
Best time to travel: January to April; September to December Average price: $350 to $650 Why you want to go: We're not saying you should head to pricey destinations like Hawaii or Las Vegas, but some U.S. spots have taken advantage of our falling currency. "Myrtle Beach, Kissimmee, and Scottsdale are starting to offer deep discounts — around 20 to 30 per cent off accommodations, free meal vouchers and discounts off activities. Also, expect major airline carriers alongside the low-cost carriers stateside such as Allegiant and Sprint to offer discounts and seat sales as well." And when you look at your budget as a whole, many U.S. destinations tend to be cheaper than leaving the continent.