City Guides » Hot Summer Guide

Steal my sunshine: 10 spots to go swimming

Our beach days are numbered so you better take the plunge while you can.

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Crystal Crescent is Sambro's white-sand escape and one of our best beaches - MEGHAN TANSEY WHITTON
  • Meghan Tansey Whitton
  • Crystal Crescent is Sambro's white-sand escape and one of our best beaches

Lake Banook
10-minute drive (from Halifax Common)
If the sun is even slightly shining, Banook is a great place to revel in the cuteness of families and folks unstrapping canoes from their car roofs or pushing them on little wagons to enjoy a paddle on this Dartmouth stand-out. Unpack your picnic, cannonball off the dock and imagine how sweet it would be to live in the neighbourhood. Prince Albert Road, Dartmouth

Long Lake
12-minute drive
You know what the best reward is for the slog of a bike ride up the St. Margarets Bay Road? A dunk in this bathtub. The lake's longness makes for lots of private shoreline nooks and crannies to launch both quick dips and afternoon-long sunbathing sessions, while also meaning lots of access points from the road. And if you can manage mosquitos, it's surrounded by walking and biking trails that'll make you feel a lot further from the city than you are. St. Margaret's Bay Road, before Prospect Road

Williams Lake
13-minute drive
If you like the sand between your toes, warm water and Halifax Transit's your only ride, this spot's a great option for you. With a couple points of entry (sandy, human-made, supervised beach on Williams Lake Road behind the school, or serenity via a through-the-woods jaunt off Purcells Cove Road) your lake experience can be as private or public as you prefer. Purcells Cove Road and 121 Williams Lake Road

Rainbow Haven Beach
26-minute drive
A sandy/cobbley beach in the Cow Bay area, this is a haven for city dwellers who don't want to go too far for a salty swim. It's a lifeguarded spot with a canteen and washrooms, meaning it's popular with the families and teens. Be prepared to be cozy with your neighbours on the hottest days. 2249 Cow Bay Road, Cow Bay

Conrad's Beach
35-minute drive
Parking sucks here, to be frank, so maybe that's why a lot of people burn past it to the nearby and also awesome, surfer's paradise of Lawrencetown Beach. But if you can score a spot (or suck it up and walk a little further), Conrad's is all waves, boardwalks and sprawling sand. Conrad Road, off Highway 207

Crystal Crescent
40-minute drive
A constant reminder of how lucky we are to live so close to elaborate coastlines, this white-sand beauty is a place for families and nude sunbathers alike thanks to its three separate coves. While it can be a gamble to head to Sambro on a sunny day (you might lose a few degrees on the way out), it's gorgeous here even in long sleeves. 223 Sambro Creek Road, Sambro

Queensland Beach
40-minute drive
One of the many beachy gems in the sparkling crown of Highway 3, Queensland is a popular spot for people-watching and swimming. Its beauty means it can get mighty busy here in peak summer, but the coastal drive from the city to Queensland offers many equally awesome beach backups (Plan B-eaches) like Cleveland Beach, Seawall Beach and the slightly further Hubbards Beach. 9600 Highway 3, Queensland

Martinique Beach
50-minute drive
A five-kilometre stretch of sandy coastline in East Petpeswick (out Musquodoboit Harbour way), Martinique is a dream for swimming, sunbathing, learning to surf and actually having enough room to throw a frisbee around without being in the way of someone's lounging. East Petpeswick Road East, Petpeswick

Hirtle's Beach
1 hour, 25-minute drive
Drumlin hills and three kilometres of sand make this beach a surefire south shore stop if you're in the Lunenburg area. Brave a sometimes-icy dip after working up a sweat with a hike—Gaff Point is nearby—or just soak in this sublime panorama. Hirtle Beach Road, Kingsburg

Melmerby Beach
1 hour, 50-minute drive
If you think Nova Scotia beaches are synonymous with unswimmably cold seas, you haven't been on the more temperate north shore. The Merb is a busy—thanks to that warm water—two-kilometre stretch in Little Harbour, and its provincial park status means good parking, flush toilets and showers are in the mix. An excellent excuse to head towards the beautiful Northumberland Straight and its 20+ degree waves. 6280 Little Harbour Road, Little Harbour

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