Lake Superior. The greatest of the Great Lakes, not just because it holds more water than all of the other great lakes combined, but because it is also the most pristine of the lakes. Although its north shore is dominated by the rugged Canadian Shield, it is sprinkled with beautiful sand beaches that are perfect for standup paddleboarding. From Thunder Bay to Wawa, here are five can’t-miss standup paddleboarding hotspots on Superior’s north shore.
Sandy Beach is located in the City of Thunder Bay, but is actually closer to Fort William First Nation. It’s the kind of hidden gem that only locals frequent. The beach is part of Chippewa Park, which has a campground, cabin rentals, a café in a huge log chalet, and amusement rides (including one of Canada’s oldest carousels). But the beach alone is worthy of the commute from town because of its shallow, warm water and view of the Sleeping Giant—an iconic landform that resembles a giant resting on his back. Launching from Sandy Beach, you can paddle north and explore the shoreline around Chippewa Park—where else can you pull your board onshore for some French fries and a game of bumper cars?
Situated east of the City of Thunder Bay in Shuniah Township, Silver Harbour Conservation Area has a small beach nestled among the cliffs that are synonymous with the north shore. As its name suggests, Silver Harbour was one of many sites in the area that were explored for silver mining during the 1800s, and you don’t have to venture far from this conservation area’s parking lot to see evidence of this activity. Just offshore is Mary Island, which makes for a nice paddle as the island offers shelter from larger waves in the bay. Silver Harbour also offers a lovely view of the Sleeping Giant—if you spend a few days in Thunder Bay, you’ll see a lot of him (one of the seven wonders of Canada!).
This tiny village is easily missed when speeding along the Trans-Canada Highway at 100 km per hour, but paddling opportunities in the sheltered Rossport archipelago are some of the finest in the Great Lakes. The best place to launch your board is the beach on the eastern end of the village (follow the signs). The beach has a large sandbar and pleasantly warm water, and is an access point for the Trans Canada Water Trail. Experienced SUP-campers can plan an overnight or even multi-day tour exploring the myriad islands with their cobble beaches, backcountry campsites and historic lighthouse.
For a shorter scenic introductory paddle, tour around Nicol Island and enjoy relatively sheltered waters. After your paddle, be sure to check out Island Pottery on the island (Tim Alexander is one of the area’s best-known potters). Rossport village also offers quaint bed and breakfasts, artisan shops, and a café where you might catch some live local music.
Neys Provincial Park
Because it is only a short drive from the Trans Canada Highway, Neys Provincial Park attracts a lot of roadtrippers. With an amazing, 2-km-long sandy beach bookended by the Little Pic River and billion-year-old volcanic rocks, the park campground is also very popular with residents of the north shore.
Depending on the wind and waves, the beach offers impressive surf or gentle rollers. On a calmer day, explore the breathtaking Lake Superior shoreline; when the waves are crashing, venture up the meandering Little Pic River—or, if you are looking for surf, head to the mouth of the river. After your paddle, join the families and other beachgoers building impressive forts and sculptures from Neys’ wealth of driftwood.
The Municipality of Wawa, Algoma Country—home to a scenically perched Canada Goose monument that is one of our country’s most famous roadside attractions. After you take a selfie with the gigantic goose, head down to Lake Superior where you’ll find a number of spectacular beaches for standup paddleboarding.
Michipicoten Bay is located southwest of the Municipality of Wawa. The best municipal beach is Sandy Beach, which has a boardwalk to protect dune vegetation, an interpretive pavillion and, as the name suggests, oodles of golden sand.
If you are looking for more varied shoreline, follow the signs to Naturally Superior Adventures and Rock Island Lodge. They have a beautiful little beach at the mouth of the Michipicoten River that offers calm river paddling to a scenic waterfall, surfing at the mouth of the river, and touring alongside the terraced pebbles of 3-km-long Driftwood Beach. The outfitters also offers SUP lessons, tours and rentals, plus B&B-style accommodations and camping. Read more.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
There’s no limit to the standup paddleboarding adventures you can enjoy on Lake Superior. Start with this list, then continue to discover hidden gems of your own on this remarkable sweetwater sea.