From The Canadian Amazon To Little Hawaii: 9 Places In Canada That Feel Like Another Country

A trip abroad without the passport! ✈️✈️

Port Stanley, Ontario. Right: Sauble Beach, Ontario.
Senior Editor

Port Stanley, Ontario. Right: Sauble Beach, Ontario.

Escaping to another country doesn't always mean getting a new stamp on your passport! From the "Canadian Amazon" to "Little Hawaii," there are so many places in Canada that feel like travelling to another country.

Whether it's the snow-kissed mountains of Switzerland, the golden beaches of Florida or the tropical rainforests of Brazil and Colombia that are calling your name, a once in a lifetime adventure could be a lot closer to home than you originally thought.

That's because Canada is home to so many unique landscapes, natural wonders and experiences, and many have a striking likeness to famous destinations elsewhere in the world. In fact, some are so impressive they could even be better than the real thing!

Here are nine Canadian spots that exude the essence of far-off lands and that will transport you straight to another country – no passport required!

The Hamptons of the North

Nestled in Ontario, Muskoka is known to be one of Canada's most sought-after vacation destinations, and it's not hard to see why.

Often labeled "the Hamptons of the North," this serene Canadian summer enclave draws globetrotters from far and wide, offering a fusion of an all-American experience with a distinctly Canadian touch.

With glistening lakes, charming villages, upscale communities and lavish cottages, this little slice of paradise draws comparisons to its transatlantic inspiration – the original Hamptons, situated on the eastern tip of Long Island, New York.

Just like its American counterpart, Muskoka is a favoured seasonal haven for wealthy (and often famous!) travellers. A bevy of celebrities, including Justin Bieber, David Beckham, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, have been known to either vacation or own property in Canada's rendition of the Hamptons.

So, if you've always wanted to visit the Hamptons but don't want to fork out for the plane ticket, why not try Canada's very own equivalent first?

Canada's Route 66

The iconic Route 66 is a bucket list experience for travellers all over the world, but did you know that Canada boasts its own version of Route 66 that offers an equally incredible adventure?

Enter the Trans-Canada Highway, a remarkable 7,821 kilometre route stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and offering a road trip experience that rivals its U.S. predecessor.

Much like the American route, which winds through diverse landscapes, the Trans-Canada Highway also promises a treasure trove of experiences, including vibrant cities, quaint towns, natural wonders and kitschy roadside attractions,

While the U.S. route might guide you through iconic cities such as Chicago and Santa Monica, the Canadian parallel ushers you through the likes of Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, and Halifax – all from the comfort of your own vehicle.

Whether you choose a short drive along the Trans-Canada Highway or a longer cross-country adventure, this road trip is a Canadian adventure that definitely rivals its American counterpart.

The Canadian Alps

If Switzerland's towering peaks and alpine landscapes call out to you, don't worry about renewing your passport. The Rockies are often affectionately known as "The Canadian Alps" and they promise an equally enchanting experience.

Nestled within Canada's borders, these dramatic ranges mirror the grandeur of their European counterparts. With snow-capped summits, rugged terrain, and pristine lakes, in addition to charming little towns around every corner, the Canadian Rockies evoke the same sense of awe that Europe's Alps do.

Exploring Banff or Jasper, which are often compared to Switzerland's alpine villages, it's easy to envision yourself in the heart of the Swiss or Austrian Alps. The scenic beauty and outdoor adventures are equally exciting, whether you're hiking through lush meadows or skiing down powdery slopes.

Best of all, this mountainous paradise doesn't demand an overseas voyage. The Canadian Rockies offer their own alpine experience that rivals the European Alps, all while remaining comfortably close to home.

The Daytona of the North

Step aside, Florida—there's a new contender for beachfront glory!

Nestled in Ontario, this sandy shoreline has earned its moniker as "the Daytona of the North" and it's not just a catchy label. With velvety-soft sands, crystal-clear waters, and an array of attractions in its vicinity, this destination gives its southern sister a run for its money.

Say hello to Sauble Beach, located just a few hours from Toronto. It boasts the title of the world's second-longest freshwater beach and is a favourite among Ontario day trippers and beach bums alike.

Just like its sun-soaked counterpart, Daytona Beach, situated along Florida's Atlantic coast, Sauble Beach offers jaw-dropping sunsets, endless stretches of white sand, and a diverse range of activities and dining options.

While the weather might not be as consistent at the Canadian version, rest assured that the beach itself is nothing short of idyllic – if not as impressive as the Florida choice.

Little Hawaii

If you're looking for captivating white sand beaches and crystalline waters, you don't need to jump on a plane.

B.C.'s Tribune Bay Beach, nestled on Hornby Island, is known to some as Canada's "Little Hawaii," nicknamed as such thanks to its stunning aquamarine waters and pristine white sand that are reminiscent of a tropical paradise.

It'll be easy to forget you're in Canada thanks to Tribune Bay Beach's warm salty waters – which are a far cry from the frigid nearby alternatives. The only thing missing might be palm trees, but in their place, equally-beautiful wildflowers bloom instead.

Even better, unlike the expense and hassle of jetting off to Honolulu, this beach doesn't require passport control or airport queues. In fact, this taste of Hawaii awaits within Canada's own backyard.

The Canadian Amazon

If a rainforest adventure is on your bucket list, you don't have to travel as far as Brazil or Columbia to experience the Amazon.

In Ontario, you can embark on an enchanting kayak expedition along the waters of Big Creek that'll transport you to a realm akin to the Amazon rainforest.

Dubbed the "Canadian Amazon," this river boasts an expanse of lush foliage on its banks, reminiscent of its South American counterpart.

During a multi-hour escapade, you'll find yourself immersed within the dense trees of Canada's Carolinian Forest, as well as the Carolinian climate and unique flora and fauna.

And you'll be able to spot wildlife, too. While sloths, jaguars and howler monkeys may be few and far between in this spot, lucky nature enthusiasts will be able to spot local critters like bald eagles, beavers, and white-tailed deer, to name a few.

Covering a distance of 9 kilometres, the route is tailored for novice kayakers, which means your rendezvous with the Amazon could be a lot easier than you initially thought!

The Galapagos of the North

While it's not an exact replica, Canada's Haida Gwaii is often referred to as "the Galapagos of the North" thanks to its similarly rugged charm and distinctive ecosystem.

Located off the coast of B.C., Haida Gwaii mirrors the Galapagos' sense of remote wonder. The archipelago is a haven of ancient forests, pristine beaches, and diverse wildlife, echoing the volcanic archipelago's unique appeal.

Much like its Ecuadorian counterpart, Haida Gwaii offers the chance to connect with nature and come face to face with species found nowhere else on Earth.

Both versions are known to have rich and complex ecological landscapes, and while the former promises iguanas, American flamingos and the Galapagos giant tortoise, the latter offers the opportunity to spot gray and humpback whales, orcas and the elusive Haida Gwaii black bear, in addition to well over 200 bird species.

While not an identical twin, Haida Gwaii stands as Canada's answer to the Galapagos, and it promises a whole bunch of natural marvels that are almost certain to evoke the same sense of wonder.

Little England

You won't have to travel all the way to the U.K. to explore the quaint charm of England.

Victoria, B.C. is a unique Canadian destination that exudes an unmistakable air of Britain – so much so that it's earned the moniker "Little England."

Among the details that will transport you over to Europe are the area's architectural aesthetics that pay homage to its British colonial heritage, and the countless cobblestone streets. Buildings here mirror the grandeur of England's historic cities, while the city's Inner Harbour has all the vibes of an English coastal town.

Victoria's lush green gardens and iconic floral displays are reminiscent of the English countryside's bloom-filled meadows, while the British tradition of afternoon tea is well and truly respected here.

Of course, Victoria has a distinct Canadian identity, although the infusion of English influences means its basically a home away from home for any visiting English travellers.

The Coney Island of the Great Lakes

You don't have to leave Canada to be transported to Brooklyn, New York.

That's because the charming town of Port Stanley is aptly nicknamed "The Coney Island of the Great Lakes" and it promises an equally fun experience that's a whole lot closer to home.

Nestled on the serene shores of Ontario's Lake Erie, Port Stanley is a picturesque harbour village that is bursting with timeless charm.

Located just a few hours from Toronto, this historic gem offers a multitude of activities to suit all tastes – from tasty eateries to quaint shops and impressive vistas. The region's crown jewels are the beaches, which promise soft sand and shimmering waters.

While some of the original attractions that once earned Port Stanley its nickname – such as the casino, roller coaster, and Ferris wheel – have faded into history, this spot still has plenty to see, including a bustling railroad.

However, if you're looking for nightclubs, thrills and amusement park rides, you might be better off crossing the border to experience the American alternative!

From Canada's version of Route 66 to its "Little Hawaii" and "Galapagos of the North," these Canadian spots show a fascinating range of global parallels that are just waiting to be discovered!

Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.

Helena Hanson
Senior Editor
Helena Hanson is a Senior Editor for Narcity Media, leading the Travel and Money teams. She previously lived in Ottawa, but is now based in the U.K.