Wasaga Beach: Learning the Pro Tips

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

I had never been to Wasaga Beach, even though it's a short road trip from Toronto. Its reputation as the Daytona Beach of the North kind of kept me away.

But winter is coming. And I needed a swim.

And luckily, so did my co-swimmer Rhya, who having grown up in Grey County, is a Wasaga Pro. We packed up my little car on Sunday morning with snacks and beach blankets and her kiddo, Nomi, and away we went.

I am now in *official* possession of the Pro-Tips, and she said it was okay if I shared them with you too. So here you go.

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#1: The Drive

Don't take the 400. Just don't. It always sucks, it's never as fast as you want it to be and there's a reaaaaaaalllllly pretty side-road drive that takes you through Ontario's stunning Greenbelt -- from Mono Hills up to Stayner. GORG.EOUS.

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#2. The Strip. AKA “Beach 1”

Rhya said I should see it, since I'd never been. She said it in that “this-is-going-to-be-a-test-of-your-basic-human-abilities” kind of way that made me feel like I was about to cliff-dive into one of the Dangerous Wonders of the World and we'd see if I made it out alive or not.

We lasted 20 minutes.

The word that comes to mind when I think of that stretch of Wasaga Beach is CHAOS.

It was wall-to-wall people and EVERY SINGLE PERSON had their own umbrella, inflatable unicorn floatie, picnic cooler, lawn chair, frisbee, portable barbecue, musical device, beach towel and loud motorcycle.

When I think of beautiful beach umbrella scenes, I think of this instagram photographer I love who flies over the ordered, uniform, highly glamorous Italian beaches... Wasaga is not that. (CHAOS.)

But whatever, it was a spectacle worth 20 minutes of my life, and I was more than happy when Rhya and I looked at each other and said “OK! Let's move on!”

(*I also do want to acknowledge that, within the chaos, the wonderful wonderful melting pot of cultures that Ontario is famous for was on full display, and I once again felt so grateful to be shoulder-to-shoulder with my fellow Canadians in our great land of freedom and acceptance.)

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#3. The Umbrella (Part 1)

The thing that The Strip was incredibly useful for was that we stopped and purchased a beach umbrella from one of the little shops. This is a Pro-Tip that you MUST pay attention to. You need an umbrella at Wasaga Beach!! Full stop.

You can also get yourself a Unicorn if you want. Put that one under Life Goals, if you must.

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#4. Far from the Madding Crowd: “Beach 3”

A short drive down the main street of Wasaga you can pop through the neighbourhoods of houses and old cottages and get to much, much quieter stretches of beach. Somewhere around 27th Street, in between Beach 3 and Beach 4, is the MAGIC.

Uncrowded sandy beaches to pitch your umbrella and unpack your picnic, and soft, blue-skied, sandbar-filled water as far as you can see. Warm, fresh, swimmable water. It is GLORIOUS. This was what I was hoping for.

*See the photo at the top of this post. This is what it's like.

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#5. The Sludge

I think it is actually technically, or maybe affectionately, known as "Beach Muck" by the locals, but one thing you need to know by heading over to the smaller Wasaga beaches is that they are not as regularly groomed as The Strip. This is a BIG BODY OF WATER. So a lot of sediment rolls in to the beach. It's black and slimey and mucky and gross. But don't despair! We just went for a short walk and found a stretch of beach that was perfectly great. You can walk right in, all sand, and the kiddos can play right at the water's edge, and it's all good.

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#6. The Umbrella (Part 2)

Once we were settled in at the new beach, we unpacked our beach blankets, our picnic, our sandcastle-building materials, and our sketchbooks and hunkered down for the afternoon.

I was so happy that I was in the SUN (after this summer of grey chilly days) that I regret to inform you I was extremely careless with my sunscreen. I *thought* I was safely parked under the umbrella, but that toasty warm feeling on my back was in fact a roasty, full-on screaming sunburn. I'm too embarrassed about it to show you. Trust me, it's a doozy. So the Pro-Tip here is: don't do that. Make sure you're covered, that's why you got the beach umbrella in the first place.

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#7. The Ice Cream

There's lots of it around. Have some.

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p.s. As we are headed into our final weeks of summer, if you need a swimming hole road trip guide for somewhere fun, check out my Harold Quarry guide, or Lindsay's Prince Edward County guide, or if you need a closer-to-home day trip, the Secret Grotto is a fun one too! Let me know if you go!

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