The answer is, of course, it depends. It depends on what part of the world the beach is in, the weather in any given winter, the size and type of water body the beach is on, if it’s the beginning middle or end of winter, and, more esoterically perhaps, your own point of view.
In most of Canada, in mid winter, most years, beaches will be covered in snow. In Prince Edward County, along the northern shores of Lake Ontario, a body of water almost as large as Slovenia, wind and current often pushes lake ice to shore.
After a storm, when wind and water pushes and crashes and pulverizes ice into pieces as small as the smallest marble or as large as a Smart Car, beaches that may be smooth and flat in summer look like cousins of the huge sand banks that line the beaches of – wait for it – Sandbanks Provincial Park, also in The County, but a few dozen kilometres further south.
Last weekend the wind created these dunes as the cold temperatures covered the water with ice. You may spot some waves bursting against the ice edge, a long long way from shore. This isn’t hard sheet ice you can walk or snowmobile across, or erect an ice fishing hut on. It’s fragile, in its own way. Likely to break apart with the next gust of wind from a different direction.
Ice caves sometimes form amongst these ice dunes, and it’s really tempting to clamber up and down them, to get a closer look, to examine more intently the glass-like ice pieces. That’s a dangerous choice, though, as you’d soon enough feel your feet moving beneath you, and you’d realize there’s frigid cold water down below.