The 20 Best Beach Vacation Destinations for Canadians 2024
Canada may be in the throes of summer holidays, but those crisp winter days are just around the corner. Have you booked your beach vacation yet?
Thinking it’s too early to start thinking about flip-flops, umbrella drinks, and palm trees? Now is the perfect time to use those travel rewards and start planning a trip. Take advantage of the best flight times, secure the best hotel room categories, and get the best price for your vacation.
Some of these places have global hotel chains as well as smaller brands. If you belong to a hotel rewards program or your credit card is affiliated with one, like the Mariott Bonvoy American Express Card, you might be able to pay your trip with points.
Here are 20 of the best beaches for your next vacation. Some are hot year-round while others wait for warmer months.
Are you looking for an affordable beach vacation? The powdery, pristine sands of Cuba’s award-winning Varadero Beach have welcomed Canadians for decades. Varadero Beach offers twenty-five kilometeres of palm-fringed paradise, warm surf to play in and gentle breezes.
A few things to note if you’ve never travelled to Cuba. There are only two types of accommodation in the resort areas; all-inclusive resorts and mid-century hotels. Always book accomodation that is 4.5 star and above. Remember that a five star in Cuba is not the same as a five star elsewhere in the Caribbean.
Manage your expectations! Plus, be sure to get off the resort to explore Cuba’s rich culture. The nation has World UNESCO sites like Trinidad de Cuba, Old Havana and Vinales Valley.
Few beach destinations on earth have the high satisfaction rating that Hawaii can brag about. Canadian travellers make the yearly pilgrimage to Maui for several reasons. It has perfect weather, soothing golden sands, endless activities across the island, and friendly locals.
The Hawaiian archipelago has been going through a cultural Renaissance for the past few years. Indigenous Hawaiians have been petitioning the government to do more to manage overtourism and spotlight Hawaiian culture and archaeological sites.
Plan well in advance if you consider booking a Hawaiian beach vacation in the coming months. Many historical sites and famous hikes now require reservations in advance, all to lighten the impact of the tourism footprint.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Fancy a road trip? A scenic seven-hour drive from Vancouver will take you to the sprawling sands of Cannon Beach.
Often voted as the ‘best beach in Oregon’, this charming seaside town is the perfect place to leave to bring your sense of adventure, find your inner zen, and play in the surf. If you’ve ever entertained the idea of jumping on a board, Cannon Beach is one of the best places on the West Coast to learn.
From the end of May into September, the swell is much smaller. Plus, the temperatures are far more welcoming, and beginner surfers can easily transition into intermediate surfers in a short time.
The answer is yes! The cerulean seas of the Maldives are as blue and vibrant in real life as they are in those Instagram feeds you’ve been scrolling through.
The Maldives is the ultimate luxury beach vacation. If you want to splurge, unplug from life for a week, and rack up those travel reward points, this is where you want to snag your next passport stamp.
For a Conde Naste-level holiday, book an overwater bungalow at the Meeru Island Resort & Spa or Six Senses Laamu. And if you want to keep things interesting, mix it up with a few days in an overwater bungalow and a few days on shore in a luxury five-star. That way, you get to experience a true Maldivian beach experience.
Cornwall is missing palm trees and tropical breezes, but this picturesque seaside community has captured the hearts and imaginations of Brits for centuries. Its famous pasties (pronounced Pass-Tee), staggering cliffs, dreamy beaches, and salty sea breezes. Cornwall is the perfect European beach vacation.
However, the summer months are extremely busy with locals. If you want to avoid major crowds, plan a visit in late spring. Pack your walking shoes because you’ll want to explore local iconic sites like:
- Tintagel Castle, famous for its association with the legend of King Arthur
- The Minak Theatre, a beautifully preserved open-air Roman-Green amphitheater
- St. Michael’s Mount, a castle and abbey located on a tidal island in Mount’s Bay.
Whitsunday Islands, Australia
Travellers are spoiled for choice when it comes to booking a beach vacation in Australia. Too many choices make it difficult to decide on one.
If you’re passionate about diving, snorkelling, sailing, and marine conservation, the Whitsundays should be on your bucket list. The Whitsundays are a collection of 74 pristine islands located off the northwest coast of Queensland. Also, they just happen to sit in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef.
Dust off your camera and GoPro and prepare to capture your life’s most epic wildlife shots. The calm waters of the Whitsundays make it a perfect location to see:
- Calving humpbacks
- Frolicking bottlenose dolphins
- Manta Rays
- Hundreds more species of fish, whales, and sharks.
Antigua & Barbuda
With 365 beaches (yes, you read that right) and near-perfect weather year-round, you can’t go wrong with a beach vacation to Antigua. You won’t have time to visit all 365 of them! However, at he right resort, you’ll enjoy a horizon of sapphire blue water and powdery white sand beneath your feet.
Furthermore, Antigua is a popular port of call for American cruise passengers. It’s also an ideal beach destination for Canadian travellers, with direct flights from Toronto during winter.
Antigua’s sister island, Barbuda, is a 90-minute fast ferry ride from Antigua. She offers visitors beautiful lagoons to explore quieter beaches, and one of the largest nesting colonies of Magnificent Frigates in the world.
Canadians looking for a beach vacation that offers island hopping, ancient history, incredible food, and those quintessential turquoise waters should make Zakynthos, Greece, their first stop. One of the aspects that makes Zakynthos so charming is the Venetian influence.
According to Greek mythology, Zakynthos was a Psophidian who founded the island’s first colony and is directly associated with the Acropolis in Athens. Zakynthos’s Navagio Beach (also known as Shipwreck Beach) is one of the world’s most popular and photographed beaches.
Venetian architecture is seen across the island. When beachgoers aren’t soaking up those Ionian breezes, Zakynthos Town offers plenty of beautiful cafes, boutique hotels, galleries, and shops.
Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
There’s great news for Canadians who’ve been itching to get back to the ‘Land of Smiles’. Air Canada is launching a non-stop service from Vancouver to Bangkok, making Thailand’s south islands more accessible than ever.
During the pandemic, Thailand has been closed off to travellers. Now with the borders wide open for vaccinated Canadians, hundreds of beaches and islands are ready to be explored.
Koh Phi Phi, made famous in the movie ‘The Beach’ is lively, fun, and charming with a wide range of accommodation options. Choose from luxury hotels, boutique guest houses, and exclusive villas. And for younger Canadians looking for a party atmosphere, Koh Samui’s Green Mango street is the place to go for bars and clubs.
Fiji Airways is launch a non-stop service between Vancouver and Nadi. If Fiji has long been a distant thought because of its distance and accessibility, it is time to book one of those twice-weekly flights.
South Pacific and Polynesian cultures are some of the warmest and most welcoming in the world. If you’re hoping to experience a destination that makes you feel like you’re at a second home, Fijians are waiting to welcome Canadians with open arms.
Fiji isn’t your typical ‘unpack and flop’ type of beach destination. The landscape is lush, teeming with mesmerizing waterfalls, lush rainforest, secluded coves, and mountain hikes. Experience culture up close during village visits, fire dancing performances, and traditional cooking demonstrations. And if the kids are tagging along, Fiji is one of the best family-friendly beach vacation options for Canadian travellers.
Tofino, British Columbia
Vancouver Island has been consistently voted one of the world’s most beautiful islands. So it should be no surprise that Tofino tops Canada’s ‘best beaches’ list.
A three-hour drive from the Nanaimo ferry terminal or a 55-minute flight from downtown to Vancouver will bring you to the small surf village of Tofino. Located on the traditional territory of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, and within the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere, a UNESCO World Heritage region.
Its laid-back feel, funky surf shops, award-winning seafood restaurants, and hauntingly beautiful landscapes make Tofino a top choice beach destination all year round. If summer crowds and ferry traffic aren’t your thing, the winter months are the second most popular season, with hotels and resorts offering ‘storm watching’ packages from November through March.
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Calling all honeymooners, lovebirds, and hopeless romantics, French Polynesia is waiting to stoke the fires and slow things down. Bora Bora is so beautiful you’ll want to leave your phone at home, except then you wouldn’t be able to spam your friends and family back home with endless dreamy postcard-perfect photos.
Bora Bora is the perfect luxury destination for Canadian travellers who want to wander endless sandy islets, laze around their pick of private beaches and snorkel stunning coral reefs. Tahiti Airways is launching a non-stop service from Seattle.
The Algarve, Portugal
Canadian snowbirds have fled to Portugal for decades, swapping bitter winters for balmy spring and summer weather. Located in Portugal’s southernmost region, the Algarve boasts over 300 days of annual sunshine, four wine regions, a rich seafaring history, beautiful artisan towns, and several of the country’s Michelin star restaurants.
The Algarve is bustling with European tourists spilling into restaurants, onto the beaches, and filling up accommodation throughout the region. Traveling during the late spring, fall, and winter months means Canadian travellers can enjoy a warm beach vacation without battling typical beach crowds.
Perched on the coast of Riviera Nayarit, Sayulita was once a sleepy surfing village with a handful of beach haciendas, very few tourists, and coconut palm ranches as far as the eye can see. Now, a multicultural, cosmopolitan town with a hippie vibe, quirky cafes, and cool ocean breezes, Suylita is a welcome reprieve from the busier, noisier resort zone in Puerto Vallarta. Sayulita offers numerous accommodation options, including upscale boutique hotels, beach villas, and chic apartments.
Samana, Dominican Republic
Between the months of November and April, the sugary white sands of Punta Cana and golden, palm-fringed shores of Puerto Plata are filled with Canadian beach lovers. The Dominican Republic offers families and couples a fun-filled, culturally rich, all-inclusive beach experience without the premium price tag.
For a more exclusive, higher-end experience, Samana is a beach resort situated on an idyllic peninsula between Puerto Plata to the north and Punta Cana to the South. Samana has been rated as one of the top ten finest beaches in the world, and for those who like to mix up their days with a little adventure, horseback riding, jungle treks, and whale watching are just a few things available to throw on the itinerary.
Carmel Beach, California
For Canadians looking to stay closer to home but still need a little adventure, and appreciate a scenic drive, Monterey’s Carmel Beach is a two-hour drive south of San Francisco. Affectionately known as Carmel by the Sea, this little beach may only be 2.5 kilometres in size, but it packs a punch as a beach vacation.
Travellers can spend their day wandering in and out of edgy art galleries and high-end boutiques, followed by a stroll along the amber-coloured beach, and finishing up with cocktails and Michelin-quality cuisine. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get a sneak peek of the town’s Honorable Mayor, filmmaker, and actor Clint Eastwood.
Seychelles is a collective of unique islands off the east coast of Africa. Once a territory of the British Empire, Seychelles is an escape for high-profile celebs like Georga Clooney, the Beckhams, and Dwane ‘the Rock’ Johnson.
And if you’ve been struggling to find the perfect romantic destination, Prince William and Kate Middleton spent their honeymoon in Seychelles. If it’s good enough for the royals!
Much like the Galapagos Islands, Seychelles is home to species only found there, including the Aldabra giant tortoise. For diver and snorkelling enthusiasts, the proximity to the equator makes Seychelles one of the best places to experience marine flora and fauna. The most direct route from Canada is from Toronto on Qatar Airways with a connection in Doha.
Miami Beach, Florida
Air travel may be a bit messy right now, and flights have yet to operate at capacity, which hasn’t stopped airlines like Air Canada from opening up new routes. Air Canada will fly non-stop from Vancouver to Miami three times a week.
Miami Beach is home to a kaleidoscope of cultures, colourful neighbourhoods, a highly diverse and inclusive nightclub culture, a sophisticated restaurant scene, and beautiful white sandy beaches. If you have more time on your hands, consider hopping on a luxury Caribbean cruise out of the Miami Port.
Located near the fabled triangle, Bermuda is an archipelago of idyllic islands, complete with pink, sandy beaches, and reef-fringed shores. The landscapes are so inspiring that the iconic John Legend wrote more than twenty songs during his stay there.
For Canadian travellers seeking a refined beach vacation, Bermuda’s pristine shores are lined with luxurious reseorts, boutique hotels, and upscale restaurants. Bermuda may give visitors a taste of Europe with a tropical twist, but it’s far more diverse, with influences from Africa, Britain, Portugal, and more. Canadian travellers are more than welcome to enjoy Bermuda’s year-round balmy temperatures, sophisticated hospitality, and endless sunsets.
Hot Water Beach, New Zealand
New Zealand promises breathtaking landscapes, geothermal treasures, beautiful indigenous culture, and thrilling adventures as far as the imagination can stretch. It also has stunning beaches on both the north and south islands.
If you’re visiting the North Island, Hot Water Beach is not to be missed. The winds here are strong, and the waves may claw at the shores with some ferocity. However, when the tides are low, this is when the fun begins.
A crack in the earth’s core warms the ocean water below and heats the sand to a searing 64 degrees celsius! Upon arrival, you’ll see beachgoers hard at work digging up holes in the sand, mixing in cold ocean water, and creating their own private hot tubs.
Is there anything better than sipping a Sauvignon Blanc while soaking in a natural spring? Maybe if you do it while watching an epic North Island sunset?
Get ready to plan that vacation!
With the launch of so many exciting airline routes, this travel season be one of the busiest. However, travel still has the potential for mishaps, missing luggage, and missed connections! Don’t get caught out.
Ensure you’ve thoroughly researched which credit cards offer the best coverage for your trip.