Looking for the perfect destination for a getaway? With warmer temperatures and better weather approaching, nothing beats planning a trip to the Lake Ontario beaches.
The stunning beaches overlooking the clear water of the lake represent the perfect getaway in New York State.
The Lake Ontario Beaches are many and diverse, with plenty of different sceneries and available activities to offer.
Spend a day sunbathing on the shores of the lake, take a refreshing bath, or try one of the many hiking paths immersed in nature.
Keep reading my guide to the Lake Ontario beaches to find more about this great holiday destination in New York State.
Can you swim in Lake Ontario?
Of course! Swimming in Lake Ontario is permitted and possibly one of the most popular activities to choose from at the beaches facing Lake Ontario.
If you’re worried about the quality of the water, multiple tests are run by regional health units during the year at every beach in Lake Ontario.
Despite a certain level of pollution that cannot be avoided, the lake meets the safety criteria of the quality monitoring programs.
Many of the beaches on Lake Ontario have been granted the ‘Blue Flag’ status. An award only attainable by the highest quality water.
To learn more about the water quality on the beaches of Lake Ontario, download the free app Swim Guide.
This accredited application will help you check weather and water quality for more than 8,000 Beaches worldwide, including Lake Ontario.
Does Lake Ontario have sandy beaches?
For the perfect summer getaway within New York, you cannot miss out on the stunning sandy beaches along Lake Ontario.
White sand and stunning sunsets create an ocean-like feeling that will forever change your idea of “a day at the lake”.
Here are my top 5 choices for sandy beaches on Lake Ontario:
Top 5 Sandy Beaches along Lake Ontario in New York State
1. Durand Eastman Beach Park
Durand Eastman Park features one of the largest and more popular sandy beaches on Lake Ontario.
The beach stretches over 5,000 feet along the shore of Lake Ontario and is known to remind of an ocean beach.
The spectacular views will not disappoint you, especially when the sun sets on the Ontario Lake coloring the water sky deep red and purple.
Here you’ll find everything you need to enjoy a relaxing and fun day at the beach with your family and friends.
The picnic areas face the waterside and are equipped with wooden tables and grills. Toilets are also available on the premises.
You can easily reach the beach area and just sunbathe or swim (supervised by trained lifeguards), or you can choose to walk one of the trails running through the Durand Eastman Park.
2. Southwick Beach Park
Southwick Beach State Park is the destination of choice for camping enthusiasts and sports lovers.
The well-equipped camping area offers tent and RV sites, electrical connections, clean bathroom facilities, and nice waterfront picnic areas.
The most popular summer activity is swimming, but many also enjoy kayaking, surfing, and windsurfing.
For those looking for a challenging and scenic hike, both hiking and biking trails are open during warmer seasons.
In wintertime, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling are the activities of choice for the visitors.
Southwick Beach State Park is the perfect holiday destination for families, as the camping is children and pet friendly.
3. Hamlin Beach Park
With more than 260 tent and trailer sites, Hamlin Beach State Park is one of the largest camping spots on Lake Ontario.
The long sandy beach is perfect to sunbathe and plenty of shade is provided by pavilions and covered picnic tables.
The beach is open all year round and offers plenty of activities throughout the seasons.
Activities such as hiking, surfing, biking, and fishing are available during summertime, and ice skating, skiing, and snowmobiling in the wintertime.
The main hiking trail in the Park is the panoramic Shoreline Trail, which overlooks the lakeshore from east to west.
You can follow the trail and reach the famous Devil’s nose bluff for the most dramatic view of Ontario Lake.
4. Fair Haven Beach Park
Fair Haven Beach State is the not-so-hidden gem of upstate New York.
The long sandy beach lies on the eastern shores and runs along Lake Ontario for 1500 feet, making it one of the major public lakefronts in the state.
The unique landscape of Fair Haven Beach includes a diverse shore, featuring rolling hills, rocky cliffs, and sandy beaches.
Enjoy the pristine lake waters and stunning sunset horizons where Lake Ontario meets the lush vegetation of the surrounding hills.
From hiking to ice fishing, Fair Haven Beach offers plenty of fun activities all year round.
Golfers should also take note of Fair Haven Beach, as it features 18 hole golf course.
For a unique afternoon, the park offers a boat rental system, which will allow you to reach Sterling Pond. Rentals available are rowboats, paddleboats, kayaks, and canoes.
5. Ontario Beach
Ontario Beach, located in Rochester NY, is a popular sandy beach facing Lake Ontario.
This ocean-looking beach is supplied with anything you might need for the perfect summer day by the water.
Take a stroll along the sandy beach, and reach the pier stretching into Lake Ontario. There’s a charming restored lighthouse that will make for the perfect photo opportunity.
From beach volleyball courts to baseball courts, to designated fishing areas and lodges for rent, Ontario Beach will provide you with plenty of activities that will keep you busy all day.
For a more relaxing but fun experience, try riding the old carousel, it is only $1 per person.
5 Lesser-Known Lake Ontario Beaches
Tired of sunbathing on sandy beaches? If your perfect day includes rocky shores and pristine green nature, Lake Ontario offers a wide selection of wilder, stunning beaches on the lesser-known side.
If you’re looking to get away from the crowd, and you enjoy a more in touch with nature experience, check out these 5 beaches on Lake Ontario:
6. El Dorado Preserve
As a true hidden gem in the New York State, El Dorado Preserve beach should be on top of you’re list.
Easily reachable by car, the headrail of the El Dorado Preserve trail is the gate to an almost different dimension.
Walk in the pristine nature of the preserve, surrounded by deep greenery.
When you least expected it, the trail will suddenly open up, revealing the stunning sandy El Dorado Beach.
At the beach, the scenery is almost tropical, with unique sandy dunes facing crystal clear water.
The El Dorado Preserve is home to varied coastal fauna and is a perfect spot for bird watching.
7. Selkirk Shores State Park
The Selkirk Shores State Parks serves some real Mediterranean views, with the bright green vegetation contrasting perfectly with the deep blue of the Ontario Lake.
The Selkirk Shores beach is the perfect spot to relax, enjoy the unspoiled nature and beautiful surroundings, and have a laid-back picnic.
The extensive beach is rocky: the upside is clear, see-through lake water, the downside is that you might have to bring water shoes to safely swim in this area.
8. Chimney Bluffs State Park
Looking for seriously dramatic views? Chimney Bluffs State Park is your destination.
The distinguishing feature of Chimeny Bluffs State Park is the presence of unique rock formations.
The jaw-dropping bluffs overlooking the Ontario Lake are an absolute must-see in the region.
Take the hike through the surrounding woods to reach the viewpoint overlooking the bluffs.
On a side note: this location lacks amenities, be sure to pack your lunch and bring water with you.
9. Sterling Nature Center
The Sterling Nature Center is pet friendly, immersed in rich flora and diverse wildlife.
This is truly a lesser-known location, where you’ll be able to explore the many trails available and reach a small and remote beach on the Ontario Lake.
At the Sterling Nature Center, you’ll admire the nesting herons (blue and green) and other protected species typical of the local underbrush.
The heron rookery is the true gem of this stunning protected area, a perfect spot to take stunning naturalistic pictures. Bring your binoculars for an even better experience.
10. Mexico Point State Park
Not counted as an official New York State Park, Mexico Point State Park is one of the well-kept secrets of the Ontario Lake.
Never overcrowded and always peaceful, Mexico Point State Park is blessed with beautiful natural surroundings and breathtaking sunsets.
The Park features a loop trail reaching a sandy beach on Lake Ontario, and several amenities, such as bathrooms, changing rooms, a pavilion, and a nice picnic area with grills.
Swimming at night is not allowed as there’s no lifeguard present after 7 pm.
Lighthouses on Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario is also known for the charming and romantic lighthouses that dot its coastline.
Check out the map of Lake Ontario Lighthouses to find out which one is the closest to you, and plan a quick getaway.
The historical lighthouses date back to the 18th-century and boast great historical and architectural value.
Pay a visit to the Fort Niagara Lighthouse to admire the oldest lighthouse still standing.
For a super-romantic view, climb the Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse, open to the public at just $1.
Other stunning lighthouses in the area are the Sodus Point Lighthouse, the Thirty Mile Point Light, and the Braddock Point Lighthouse.
Beyond Lake Ontario Beaches
Can’t get enough of lake beaches?
Check out my guide on the 5 Must-Visit Lake Huron Beaches in Michigan.