Alberta is famous for its mountains, not its beaches. Look beyond the rocky peaks, however, and you’ll find it boasts more than a few wonderful sandy spots to enjoy!
On your next trip, make it a point to stop at some of these beautiful lakes in Alberta. From hidden glacial lakes to sandy ribbons in the heart of Alberta’s hills, you’ll love these beaches!
If you’re looking for lakes in Alberta, Wabamun Lake is a popular lake near Edmonton to start with, and is about an hour’s drive west of the city.
In addition to a large sandy beach area, Wabamun Lake’s shores have boardwalks for hikes and walks around the water. Windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, and power boating are all common on the water, so swimmers should stay within the beach area, or be cautious.
Wabamun Lake is considered the best whitefish lake in the area by locals. However, the lake has only allowed catch and release fishing for the last few years. Make sure you check the regulations before taking any fish home. Don’t forget your fishing license, either — they’re not hard to get, and are required at any lake in Alberta you want to fish in.
From mid-May until the September long weekend, Wabamun Lake’s beach is lively and, on hot days, crowded. Show up earlier in the day if you want to secure a top spot in one of the picnic areas.
Pigeon Lake is another popular lake near Edmonton. Located just over an hour south of the city, Pigeon Lake and the Village on the lake come alive every summer with visitors and part-time residents.
Go swimming in the lake, fishing on the water, or hike on the trails. Pigeon Lake’s trails span 12 kilometres around the lake and aren’t too difficult, since there aren’t any steep inclines to watch out for.
What makes Pigeon Lake special is the nearby Village at Pigeon Lake. After splashing in the lake for the day, head into town and grab a bite at one of the cafes or restaurants. There’s even a spa for a day of pampering. It’s wilderness and luxury all in one.
Local tip: when winter comes, head to Pigeon Lake, which is one of Alberta’s top ice fishing spots near Edmonton. You can catch pike and other whitefish.
Moving south from Pigeon Lake, we find Sylvan Lake, which is Alberta’s resort town. Located directly between Edmonton and Calgary, Sylvan Lake is a big tourist draw and one of the most popular recreational lakes in Alberta.
There are two beach areas in the city — the big and the little beaches. Swimmers beware — neither park has a lifeguard, so young children will need to be supervised closely. You can go windsurfing, swimming, or just enjoy the sun.
Sylvan Lake’s water park, Aqua Splash, is open seasonally from late June to early September. Unlike a typical water park, Aqua Splash isn’t a set of permanent structures. It’s an inflatable park that floats on the lake, with slides, climbing towers, and a trampoline. If you’re spending any time in Sylvan Lake this summer, you should fit in a stop at Aqua Splash.
You should bring your fishing pole to Sylvan Lake, because it’s full of whitefish for catching throughout the fishing season. Make sure you look up any catch and release restrictions before you cast your line.
Named one of Canada’s top 25 beaches by Canadian Geographic Magazine, Kinosoo Beach, on the shores of Cold Lake, is a must-visit place to go swimming in Alberta. Cold Lake straddles the Alberta – Saskatchewan Border northeast of Edmonton, but the beach itself is completely in Alberta.
The beach features volleyball courts, a playground, and a concession stand for snacks on the beach. The main swimming area is roped off for safety. The new splash park will entertain young kids, while the walking trails are beautiful for older beach-goers.
Local tip: didn’t bring your own toys? Look for Wicked Watersport Rentals to rent paddle boards, kayaks, and more.
Overall, Kinosoo Beach is a top choice for a family vacation. It’s an up-and-coming spot and was awarded Project of the Year by Alberta Public Works in 2018. The biggest work has been completed, so now is the time to visit the new and improved Kinosoo Beach.
Just outside of Jasper, Annette Lake is a small lake with a beach you can’t miss. While Annette may not be one of the biggest lakes in Alberta, it is a local gem that is a good choice if the crowds at the bigger beaches and lakes are too much.
As a part of Jasper National Park, Lake Annette is surrounded by easily accessible hiking and walking trails. The Lake Annette hike is paved — safe for anyone with limited mobility — and spans just over 11 kilometres.
Surrounding the beach are fire pits and picnic tables for a snack. If you have your fishing license, you can even catch your own lunch (make sure you check the yearly regulations before you keep anything, though).
Annette Lake is a must-visit lake in Alberta for one key reason: scuba diving. The lake is a popular spot for beginner divers and anyone looking to try out cold water diving. Alberta’s surprisingly vibrant diving community frequently holds formal trips and events in the area.
Moraine Lake is a small, brilliantly coloured lake near the Alberta/British Columbia border, southeast of Lake Louise. The vivid turquoise colour is a result of being glacier fed; light reflects off of fine rock particles, with the colour becoming more intense as the summer goes on.
In addition to being a favourite spot for swimming in Alberta, the nearby Moraine Lake hikes shouldn’t be missed. If you’re up for a challenge, climb the Tower of Babel route. However, watch out for rain because the trail gets slippery when wet.
Parking fills up fast, so if you’re worried about being turned away at the parking lot, then catch the Moraine Lake shuttle instead. It runs seasonally from mid-May to mid-October and picks up in Lake Louise.
If you’re looking for beaches near Calgary, try out Ghost Lake, which is Alberta’s original man-made watery playground.
Like Moraine Lake, Ghost Lake turns a brilliant turquoise colour under the right conditions. The lake is about 25 minutes west of Calgary, just outside Cochrane. It’s usually frozen from around December until mid-May. Since this lake is fed by snow melting and draining into the river, it’s always cold. With that being said, you should consider bringing wetsuits.
Ghost Lake was formed in 1929 with the damming of the Bow River at the Ghost Dam. It’s only about 1.5 kilometres wide at any given point, but its length makes it a top choice for windsurfing, sailing, and waterskiing.
Local tip: there is a public boat launch you can use for free, but only three people can go at a time and the line gets long. Show up earlier in the day if you want to avoid waiting too long.
Planning to hit a few of these beaches or lakes in Alberta while on vacation? Find a vacation home rental in Alberta that’s close to your favourite beaches. CanadaStays can help you find the perfect vacation rental options in Alberta and across Canada.