Sandbanks Provincial Park is situated on the north shore of Lake Ontario, in Prince Edward County, Ontario. It offers a spectacular sandy beach with warm, shallow water. We camped at Sandbanks most recently in August 2010. Here is what we liked about Sandbanks:
Environment: Sandbanks is situated on a six-kilometre long sandy beach with sand dunes. It has one of the world’s largest fresh water sand bar and dune systems. Most of the surrounding region beyond the park boundaries is compromised of agricultural areas and small towns.
Beach: The beach is easily accessible and only a few minutes walk from the Cedars and Outlet River campgrounds. If camping in Cedars Campground, you will need to cross the main park road to get to the beach. The Outlet River Campground is situated along the shore of Lake Ontario. The beach has shallow water and is quite safe for children. Ensure that your children are supervised, especially when there are high waves. Dangerous undertow conditions can occur, whenever there are high waves.
Biking: The five-kilometre Woodlands Trail runs through the Woodlands Campground and connects to the Dunes and Outlet Day Use beaches. In addition there are many campground roads to cycle on.
Camping: If you are looking for campsites along the beach, try Camper Beach (campsites #6-39). These campsites have very little shade and privacy, however most sites have great views of Lake Ontario and the beach. The Cedars Campground campsites are set back in the woods with more privacy and are only a few minutes walk to the beach. The Woodland and Richardsons Campgrounds are located away from the main beach.
Hiking: The Cedar Sands Trail is two-kilometres long and offers viewing platforms that overlook Outlet River and the Baymouth sand dunes. Our favourite hiking trail was simply just walking the length of the beach.
Area Attractions: Lake on the Mountain and North Beach are two provincial parks in the area that you can get into for free, just by showing your valid camping permit from Sandbanks. Picton and Bloomfield are two quaint towns that are worth exploring and Belleville is under one hour away.
Facilities and Services: Sandbanks has day use picnic facilities, comfort stations, a park store, visitor centre and rentals of canoes, kayaks and paddleboats on Outlet River. Boating and fishing are also very popular in the area.
In Conclusion: There are 519 campsites in five campgrounds at Sandbanks. The July-August occupancy rate for 2009 was 95%, which means that this park is always full in the summer, due to the beach and close proximity to Toronto. You will need to book five months in advance to secure a campsite. We booked five months in advance and all of the best campsites along the beach were taken. If you are looking beyond the beach, the hiking, cycling and canoeing opportunities are limited. The weather was cool and wet during our stay, so we found ourselves exploring the attractions in the surrounding region. If the weather is hot and dry, you can easily spend a week at Sandbanks. If it is cool or wet, two to three days should give you ample time to explore the park.
My Park Rating: 4 out of 5