West Coast of Ontario

Stunning natural scenery, endless sandy beaches
and sunsets that will take your breath away



pinery sand dunesThe west coast of Ontario stretches from Amherst Pointe just south of the City of Windsor all the way north to the Town of Tobermory at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula and has long been a very popular part of the province for vacationers due to its spectacular natural features, rare ecosystems, beautiful white sandy beaches and world famous sunsets.

For the most part it stretches along the glorious shores of Lake Huron but at its southern end runs along the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River before ending at the northern shores of Lake Erie.

Along its length are a number of picturesque towns and villages that swell with tourists and vacationers in the Canadian summer as this is a popular cottage and camping destination. With such a lengthy coastline boating is also a very popular activity with many small ports to be found along its coast.



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ontario-west-coast-sunset The largest city by far in the sub-region is Windsor at the extreme southern end straddling the Detroit River across from Detroit, Michigan in the United States to which it is linked with both a tunnel and the Ambassador Bridge. These links are the busiest crossings between Canada and the United States along the entire length of their shared borders.

The only other population center of any significant size in the entire west coast of Ontario is the City of Sarnia located approximately 85 kilometres (53 miles) northeast of Windsor at the extreme southern end of Lake Huron straddling the St. Clair River. Sarnia is also linked to the United States city of Port Huron with a border crossing at the Blue Water Bridge. There is also a rail tunnel under the river but it is used for freight only.

The remainder of the west coast of Ontario region is dominated by the brilliant blue waters of Lake Huron and its picturesque coastline, highlights along the lengthy coastline include bluffs, beaches and sand dunes. A number of Ontario Provincial Parks dot the coastline with Pinery Provincial Park near the small Town of Grand Bend being among the most visited. The highlight of the park is without a doubt its 30 metre (93 feet) high sand dunes that stretch inland to meet the largest oak savannah woodlands that remain in all of North America.

Traveling further north another very popular summer vacation destination is Sauble Beach at the southwestern end of the Bruce Peninsula. At the end of the Bruce Peninsula you will find two Canadian National Parks that are definitely worthy of a visit: Bruce Peninsula National park and Fathom Five National Marine Park. Along with the awesome natural scenery Fathom Five is know the world over as one of the best freshwater diving spots in the world. The Town of Tobermory also provides a gateway to Northern Ontario as the MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry connects it with Manitoulin Island on the other side of Georgian Bay.


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Location of the West Coast of Ontario (centred on Goderich)




Getting to the West Coast of Ontario:

By Car:

If traveling from Northern Ontario there are two options:

  • Take Highways #69 or #11 until they meet up to Highway #400 just north of Port Severn or north of the City of Barrie respectively. It then depends on exactly where you want to go as there are a number of highways that head west to the West Coast of Ontario.

    • If you are heading to the Bruce Peninsula you would take Highway #26.
    • If you are going to Windsor you would stay on Highway # 400 to Highway # 401 just north of Toronto then head west to its termination.
    • In between there are a myriad of small highways and roads that you can take to get to your specific destination.


  • Your second option is to take Highway #6 and head to the town of South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island to catch the MS Ch-Cheemaun ferry across the straits that connect Georgian Bay to Lake Huron. It connects to the Town of Tobermory at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula and from there you continue on Highway #6 until you each Highway #21 and head west. Highway # 21 is the sub-regions main transportation corridor and runs from the Town of Southampton all the way south along the shores of Lake Huron to Highway #402 that heads west into Sarnia.

If traveling from from Toronto:

Again the route all depends on exactly where you want to go in the region.
  • From Toronto to Windsor you simply take Highway #401 west to its termination.

  • For all other areas you would most likely take Highway #401 until at least the City of Kitchener and from there either continue on Highway #401 or take one of the small secondary highways that go to your ultimate destination.
My best advice is to locate my city, town or attraction page closest to where you want to go and you will get more precise directions. As it is, most destinations on the West Coast of Ontario are at least a 3 - 4 hour drive from Toronto.

By Air:

The only airport of any significance in the region is the Windsor International Airport and even though it is classified as an international airport most of the flights handled are either cargo or business. International passenger fights directly out of the city are for the most part charters. If you wish to fly into Windsor you will likely land in Toronto and be transferred to a smaller commuter plane for the remaining flight.

By Public Transport:

Both Windsor and Sarnia are serviced by Via Rail which is Ontario’s premier passenger rail service, they are also serviced by numerous bus companies. To reach other smaller communities in the region Northlink bus services operate from Toronto, Hamilton and London and goes to a variety of destinations.

Update: Northlink services seem to be down as of March, 2014 and their website is no longer operational.


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The West Coast of Ontario is a vacationer’s paradise and visitors to this sparsely populated area of the Province are usually in search of camping, boating, swimming and lounging on endless sandy beaches, activities of a more laid back nature. If you do get a chance to go make sure to bring your camera to capture one of the unbelievable sunsets that occur over Lake Huron almost nightly.

The region is geared more for those in search of nature’s beauty in its pristine natural setting than those seeking the hustle and bustle of big city attractions. There is still a ton to see and do though so if you are interested in visiting the West Coast of Ontario region check out some of the attractions and destinations at my pages below.


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West Coast of Ontario Attractions



Inverhuron Provincial Park

A small isolated park it contains one of the best beaches along the entire Lake Huron coastline. Known for its unique collection of Bald Eagles that are drawn to the area by the warm temperatures created by the Bruce Power Nuclear Generating Station for those wanting to visit get all the information you need on my Inverhuron Provincial Park page.


Kincardine

At the centre of 30 kilometres (18 miles) of beautiful sandy beaches the beautiful small community of Kincardine is one of the west coast's premier summer destinations. Historic and tranquil the area has much to offer all year round. To see all Kincardine has to offer visit my Kincardine page.


MacGregor Point Provincial Park

One of the province's birding hotspots this small park is located just south of Port Elgin along some pristine Lake Huron coastline. A great place to visit especially during the spring and fall bird migration seasons for more information visit my MacGregor Point Provincial Park page.


Port Elgin

Southampton's sister community this is one of the most popular summer holiday destinations in the province. With a series of great beaches a lot quieter than it motre famous northern neighbours if you are planning a visit get all the information you need on my Port Elgin page.


Sauble Beach

The jewel of the west coast of Ontario coastline this small town boasts the world's second longest freshwater beach but makes no claims to being Ontario's second best beach. Considered by some to be the best beach in the country for more information visit my Sauble Beach page.


Saugeen River Canoe Route

Flowing through the southern reaches of the Bruce Peninsula but emptying into Lake Huron at Southampton this one of Southwestern Ontario's premier canoeing destinations. Perfect for paddlers of any experience try one of the various parts of the route on a warm summer day. Route and equipment informtion is available at my Saugeen River Canoe Route page.


Southampton

The oldest port on the Bruce Peninsula it sports a beautiful beach, an iconic lighthouse and beautiful world famous sunsets. A great place to spend a summer holiday weekend get all the information you need about this historic port town at my Southampton page.



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