Touring the Toronto Islands
Toronto's winters can feel like they drag on for half the year sometimes, making the city's warmer seasons reason enough to celebrate any spare moment you can find. At Guided Toronto, we believe that some of the best Toronto sightseeing can be done from the water. This is also a good way to combat the strong rays and heavy heat by balancing them out with the steady breeze coming in off of Toronto's nearby waters. For this reason, we've set our sights on doing a deep dive of the Toronto Islands!
How to go Toronto Islands
Located just south of the city's mainland, the Toronto Islands are a sure-fire Toronto must-see for anyone visiting the city during peak season. They are made up of a cluster of larger and smaller islands, with Centre Island serving as the top destination. Ferries departing from the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal offer travellers the choice of setting off for Centre Island, Ward's Island, or Hanlan's Point. We strongly recommend buying your ferry tickets online and saving yourself an extra wait before lining up to board. There is a special counter opened for prepaid-ticket holders, and you'll feel pretty good about bypassing the ticket line, which can look rather intimidating on your approach to the terminal. For more details, check out the city website here.
Another option is to take a water taxi to the islands. The cost is just a little more expensive per person ($10pp), but keep in mind that the taxis also charge for items like strollers and bicycles, which can quickly raise the total price. As for your return to the mainland, you can simply jump on the ferry for a free ride back – just be sure not to miss the last boat out (11:30 p.m.) if your day trip somehow starts creeping into all-nighter territory.
For the adventure seekers, one of the best options would be to rent a canoe or kayak from the Harbourfront Paddle Toronto and cross over the open water. Give yourself a good two to three hours for the round trip, and don’t forget to lather on the sunscreen.
What to Do On The Islands
One particularly popular attraction – especially for families with younger children in tow – is the iconic Centreville Theme Park. This cute and cozy amusement park is definitely geared towards the youngest demographics, but even older children and fully grown adults will find something to get excited about. The park is full of rides and games, but a trip to Centreville is never complete without a stop in at Far Enough Farms to interact with some furry or feathered friends.
Closer to the Ward's Island Ferry Dock, you'll find another landmark: Toronto Island DGC, a world-class disc golf (or frisbee golf) course that was opened back in 1980. Even a newcomer to the game will appreciate the beautiful skyline views offered throughout your round.
And, of course, for many people, the sole purpose of a trip to the islands is to hit the beach and claim a spot for the entire day. Manitou Beach, Ward's Island Beach, and the famously clothing-optional Hanlan's Point Beach are the main choices available.
It's probably impossible to see all there is to see during a single visit to the islands, but that's not to say that you can't cover a lot of ground (and water) in just a few hours of moving about. Simply wandering through the islands on foot and discovering the many charming cottages and residential areas can serve as a perfect introduction to the Toronto Islands. Along your way, you'll be sure to come across various cafés, parks, and historical landmarks to spice up your journey.
If you didn’t paddle over, check out The Boat House on Centre Island, which offers various rental options, and then take off for some of the islands' lesser-travelled lagoons and channels. This is a really great way to see parts of the islands that are virtually inaccessible on foot.
The islands do have quite a few options for food, but nothing is more satisfying than feasting on your very own picnic. Find yourself a place in one of the Muskoka chairs along the water's edge or choose one of the BBQ pits by the centre fountain. Either way, once you're settled in, it's time to give yourself a pat on the back for a Toronto vacation done right!
A Parting View to Remember
As though you hadn't been treated to enough beautiful scenery to this point, you just can't overlook the sheer awesomeness of Toronto's perfectly positioned skyline as you line up for departure at the ferry gates. This view alone is worth making the trip again and again!