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One smells like molasses. Another was a Playboy pick. We asked writers across the country to share their favourite sandy spots. They're not necessarily the most beautiful, but they're tops for overall experience. Here they are, in no particular order

Ward’s Island Beach: Jump on the ferry to Ward’s in Toronto and leave the big bad city behind for a gentler place. A short stroll brings you to grassy dunes and a crescent-shaped slice of heaven. Sheltered spots abound for blankets and picnics, and the rather cool water is usually calm. – Abigail PughKevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

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Sandbanks: It feels like a beach should: golden sands, baking teens, umbrellas staked like explorers’ flags. But the real appeal of Lake Ontario’s Sandbanks Provincial Park lies in the warm, shallow waters. When you’re done with the sun, follow the country roads to mix with artists, farmers and winemakers. – Karan SmithNathan Denette/The Canadian Press

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English Bay Beach: In summer, Vancouver’s English Bay Beach feels like California. Palm trees overlook the Seawall, where walkers and joggers head to False Creek and Stanley Park. Grab an ice cream at one of Denman Street’s gelato shops and chill out on a big log. – Lucas AykroydDarryl Dyck/The Globe and Mail

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Sugar Beach: What makes it unique? For starters, it’s the world’s first intentional industrial beach, bringing together Toronto’s commercial past, metropolitan present and limitless future. Then there are the two acres of sand, its location equidistant from a college and a sugar factory, pink umbrellas and 150 recumbent white Muskoka chairs. – Bert ArcherFernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

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Magdalen Islands: This charming archipelago off the north coast of PEI (although actually part of Quebec) is so long that its landscape is by default composed mostly of beaches. Many are buttressed by enormous sand dunes capped with adorable tufts of grass, which make for fun climbing surfaces. – Vanessa Farquharson

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Spanish Banks: This two-kilometre swath on the Seaside Seawall system in Vancouver’s Point Grey has three glorious sections facing the North Shore’s mountains. Spanish Banks East and West feel more urban, with volleyball courts and concessions. Spanish Banks Extension is heaven on earth when the tide is out. – Kate ZimmermanRafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

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Haida Gwaii: According to native legend, the first humans on Earth emerged from a clam shell on B.C.’s North Beach. The creation myth is easy to believe as you hike along this dramatic, 10-kilometre curve of sand in Naikoon Provincial Park. Beachcombers can find sperm-whale teeth that have been washed ashore. – Mark HumeMark Hume/The Globe and Mail

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Long Beach: This B.C. gem, 20 kilometres south of Tofino, is the quintessential Canadian beach, as much Sitka spruce and hemlock forest as sand. The sand is hard-packed, the water always bracing. It is a beach for purposeful striding rather than sprawling and zonking. – Bert ArcherDeddeda Stemler/The Canadian Press

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Cavendish Beach: This is seven kilometres of white sand edged with red PEI soil. If you’ve got kids, it’s the best beach in the country. You’ll find scheduled activities, such as sandcastle-building and dune-exploring. Or you can simply can spend long days digging for clams and poking jellyfish. – Bert Archer

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Grand Beach: On steamy summer days, every Winnipegger seems to migrate an hour north along to this three-kilometre stretch of warm water and powdery sand. The combination of boardwalk and Cape Cod-like dunes earned the Lake Winnipeg spot a place on Playboy’s list of top-10 beaches in the 1980s. – Patrick WhiteJohn Woods/The Canadian Press

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