Discover Blue Flag beaches on the Great Lakes | Great Lakes Guide

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Discover Blue Flag beaches on the Great Lakes

Published June 10, 2020

Earlier this year, Swim Drink Fish (the nonprofit behind Great Lakes Guide) became the National Operator of the Blue Flag program in Canada. The Blue Flag program recognizes communities working hard to promote swimmable, drinkable, fishable water.

Toronto became the first city in Canada to certify its beaches under the Blue Flag program in 2005. Today, Ontario is home to the most Blue Flag beaches in all of Canada.


What is a Blue Flag beach?

Think of a Blue Flag as a green light to get your toes wet.

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Kew-Balmy Beach, Toronto, Ontario. Photo Credit: Saritile (Flickr: Link)

When a Blue Flag is flying, it tells you many things about a beach or marina.

It tells you that a beach or marina is being managed sustainably. It tells you that the area is accessible and inclusive. It tells you that high-quality services and safety procedures are in effect. It tells you that the water there is being monitored.

Blue Flag beaches had to meet water quality guidelines the majority of the time (more than 80% of the time) during the previous beach season. Blue Flags are only supposed to fly when current conditions are also suitable for swimming, but you can always check the Great Lakes Guide beach page for current water quality results pulled from Swim Guide.

Blue Flag beaches meet 33 criteria across four categories:

  • Environmental Education and Information
  • Water Quality
  • Environmental Management
  • Safety and Services

Blue Flag marinas meet 38 criteria across six categories:

  • Environmental Education and Information
  • Environmental Management
  • Safety and Services
  • Water Quality
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Social and Community Involvement

Swim Drink Fish works closely with Blue Flag International to guarantee that the Blue Flag beaches in the Great Lakes meet the standards used worldwide.

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Cherry Beach, Toronto, Ontario. Photo Credit: Jeff Hitchcock (Flickr: Link)

Why are Blue Flag beaches important?

Blue Flag beaches do more than just let you know where you can go swimming in Ontario. The Blue Flag program also connects you to water so that you can learn more about the Great Lakes and appreciate how essential they are to your life.

At Blue Flag beaches, you’ll find educational activities that help you discover more about the environment you’re visiting. You’ll find information about the lake’s biodiversity, ecosystems, and the fascinating environmental phenomena at work.

A Blue Flag beach or marina gives a sense of pride to its community and attracts visitors from far and wide to come enjoy and know the waters there.

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Canatara Park Beach, Sarnia, Ontario. Photo Credit: Loozrboy (Flickr: Link)

Blue Flag marinas also help protect the water and local environment by sustainably managing all types of waste, including recyclables, litter, compost, and hazardous waste. Blue Flags indicate that the marina provides important services such as onsite pump out stations, onsite hazardous waste disposal and storage, and clean sanitary and washing facilities.


Here is a map of the 2020 Blue Flag destinations in Ontario



As of 2020, here are all the Blue Flag beaches in Ontario

Bell Park Beach, Sudbury, Ontario

Bluffer’s Park Beach, Toronto, Ontario

Canatara Park Beach, Sarnia, Ontario

Centre Island Beach, Toronto, Ontario

Cherry Beach, Toronto, Ontario

Gibraltar Point Beach, Toronto, Ontario

Grand Bend Beach, Municipality of Lambton Shores, Ontario

Hanlan’s Point Beach, Toronto, Ontario

Kew-Balmy Beach, Toronto, Ontario

Moonlight Beach, Sudbury, Ontario

Outlet Beach, Sandbanks Provincial Park, Prince Edward County, Ontario

Pier Beach (Bayfield Main Beach), Bluewater, Ontario

Port Burwell East Beach, Port Burwell, Ontario

Port Glasgow Beach, Municipality of West Elgin, Ontario

Port Stanley Main Beach, Port Stanley, Ontario

Spine Beach, Elliot Lake, Ontario

Spruce Beach, Elliot Lake, Ontario

Victoria Beach, Cobourg, Ontario

Ward’s Island Beach, Toronto, Ontario

Wasaga Beach Area 1, Wasaga, Ontario

Wasaga Beach Area 2, Wasaga, Ontario

Wasaga Beach Area 5, Wasaga, Ontario

Waubuno Beach, Parry Sound, Ontario

Woodbine Beach, Toronto, Ontario



As of 2020, here are all the Blue Flag marinas in Ontario

Bluewater Marina, Bluewater, Ontario

City of Barrie Marina, Barrie, Ontario

Grand Bend Marina, Municipality of Lambton Shores, Ontario

Loyalist Cove Marina, Bath, Ontario

Port Franks Marina, Municipality of Lambton Shores, Ontario

Tall Pines Marina, Kenora, Ontario

Trent Port Marina, Trenton, Ontario