One of the amazing things about Winnipeg, is that despite being in the geographical centre of the Continent, residents flock to wide sandy beaches to enjoy their summers. Lake Winnipeg is a huge body of water with a surface area of 24,387 square kilometres (as large as Lake Erie or Lake Ontario).
There are the “South Beaches” on the very bottom of Lake Winnipeg: Grand Marais, Grand Beach, Patricia and Beaconia. The spectacular sands of Grand and Patricia beaches are considered among the finest beaches in North America. At Patricia Beach not only has one of the prettiest stretches of beach, but is also renowned for it’s large, natural marsh area, which is home to an amazing variety of waterfowl and wildlife. A short drive north of Patricia Beach you will find Manitoba’s most famous strip of sand, Grand Beach. Grand Beach Provincial Park has wonderful picnic and camping facilities and of course, the beach. This beach has attracted tourists since the 1920’s and features miles of clean white silica sand, with 8 metre tall dunes. It is an excellent place to swim, sunbathe, windsurf, or peoplewatch. (In the winter, the beach attracts snowmobilers and cross-country skiers who use the many excellent trails in the area.)
A little further north, on the eastern shore (which get the afternoon sun) are more fine beaches. These beaches include Victoria Beach, Albert Beach, Traverse Bay, Hillside Beach, and Belair. These beaches lie at the northern end of the La Vérendrye Trail, with beachside communities nestled between the lake istelf and the Belair Provincial Forest. The area has two golf courses, beaches for swimming and beach volleyball, sailboat and windsurfing rentals, good sport fishing, great bird watching. (In winter, the area’s recreation shifts to curling, skating, sleigh rides, cross country skiing). These beaches are all accessible vie highway 59 from Winnipeg or Highway 11 coming from the eastern Transportation-Canada Highway.
On the western shore of Lake Winnipeg are a number of popular beach communities. These include Winnipeg Beach, Gimli (also popular with motor sports enthusiasts) and Hecla, on Hecla Island in the middle of the lake. Hecla Island is part of Hecla Provincial Park, which also includes two other islands, Black Island to the east and Deer Island to the North. The new Grindstone Provincial Recreation Park is on the mainland to the north side of Hecla. These beaches are accessed from Winnipeg via highway 8, which goes north just a short distance from the shores of Lake Winnipeg.