If a quieter, sandy beach stretching for several miles is your idea of heaven, the Southampton beach is the place for you! Stretching approximately 4 kms long, you will hear the gulls soaring above and the waves hitting the shoreline.
Although the beach itself is sandy, the water bottom ranges from pebbly to rocky to sandy. Water shoes are recommended for the rocky sections. The water deepens quickly near the giant Canadian flag gracing the Southampton shoreline, so the best place for families and young children is down by the dunes, which is also the home of the only fast-food outlet on the beach. According to local lore, this seasonal take-out restaurant cooks up and serves THE best fries along the shoreline. Milkshakes, soft drinks, ice cream, burgers and hot dogs are other items on the menu. Change rooms and washrooms share space with the restaurant.
Here, too, is the site of the former Long and Short Docks, built during Lake Huron's shipping heydey. Southampton's icon, the Chantry Island lighthouse, sits majestically across from this beach. The wooden Long Dock once connected Chantry Island to the shore, with a gap allowing boats to travel through. The cribs are still visible at the water's edge and, with well-worn paths down the centre of each, make a great place for youngsters to explore with net and bucket in hand. One lone leafy tree graces the beach here, so if you're looking for a shady spot, you need to stake your claim early. To reach the Long Dock Beach, park in the parking lot beside the restaurant and simply head toward the water, where the two former docks flank the swim area on either side.
Family Fun Nights are held each Friday in the sheltered picnic area. The whole family can try its hand at games of chance, including bingo and the cake wheel--win your dessert!
Further south, the sandy beach continues with shallow water and a sandy bottom.
Swing sets dot the beach and, of course, kids (large and small) have to stop and try out each one! Along the "boardwalk" (actually a concrete sidewalk), family-donated benches--note the plaques on the seat backs--are conveniently placed for resting, sunset viewing, star gazing and just plain sitting. The boardwalk runs from the giant flag to the Long Dock beach. Washroom and change room facilities are located half-way between the two.
North of the flag, the beach is accessible to the public. It tends to be rockier and stonier here both on shore and in the water, but it's a beautiful walk along the water to the mouth of the Saugeen River which empties into Lake Huron. Watch the sunset or have a picnic at Pioneer Park located right at the river mouth. Public washroom facilities are available adjacent to the river where the fishing tugs line up.
Across the Saugeen River, the beach continues with its sand and rock combination. A beautiful area to walk or sit or swim (water shoes required in some areas). Parking is available at several access points along the shore road (which is called Shore Road and Blanchfield and Eckford in different locations) or start in town, walk across the bridge and down to the water.
There are no beach shelters along the Southampton shoreline, so remember to slather on the sunscreen several times during the day, wear a hat and tote an umbrella to the beach.
- Type of Beach: Sandy.
- In the water, the bottom ranges from being shallow and sandy to rocky with a quick drop-off into deep water
- Length: Approx. 4 kms
- Parking: Free at the flag, at Chantry View Drive (formerly Wellington Street), at every beach access point, at Gerry's Fries, the Dunes, the harbour/Pioneer Park
- Public Washrooms: Gerry's Fries (The Long Dock Beach), Chantry View Drive (formerly Wellington Street), on Millard Boulevard down by the flag, at the harbour front (near Pioneer Park), the old Southampton Town Hall