Scenic islands in Ontario boaters should explore
While there are endless options to choose from, here are five of the very best islands in Ontario.
As the largest freshwater island in the world, Manitoulin Island is chock-full of breathtaking scenery to take in, historic sights to experience, and adventures to experience. Local islanders are quick to recommend a hike on the famous Cup and Saucer trail to those looking to explore the natural wonders of the island. The trail offers panoramic views of the island from 70 metres up. For those who appreciate a good waterfall, Bridal Veil Falls is an essential and easily accessible stop. Manitoulin Island also offers visitors a host of diverse Indigenous experiences that reflect the culture of the local Anishinabek people. After the sun sets on the island, visitors flock to Eco Park to indulge in a stargazing experience like no other.
With more than 10 marinas and boat launches scattered around the island, boaters have plenty of flexibility when planning their trip. Gore Bay and Spider Bay marinas are both standouts on this list, each providing boaters with a secure haven to dock, charming scenery and a variety of dining and lodging options.
A fantastic destination for boaters of all kinds, the 1000 Islands are filled with an abundance of beauty, adventure, and amenities. Tucked along the border between the United States and Canada along the St. Lawrence River, the Islands are brimming with scenic beauty, historic sites and incredible natural beauty, making them the perfect destination for sightseeing.
Boaters can launch from a long list of municipal and privately-owned marinas and land at one of the many islands of Thousand Islands National Park. Most islands associated with the park offer some form of docking and many contain mooring buoys, campsites, and other amenities as well. A sanctuary for sailboats, powerboats, and captains of all levels of experience makes the 1000 Islands the perfect playground for boating.
Great Manitou Island
Created by the magma of ancient volcanic eruptions, Great Manitou Island features a pristine shallow-water beach, more than 50 species of local birds and a mysterious history. The island is completely uninhabited and offers boaters a chance to get immersed in Ontario’s boreal forest ecosystem. While overnight stays are not permitted, the island is only a 10–15-minute boat ride away from the mainland. Boaters can launch from the North Bay Marina, Sunset Park Boat Launch, Champlain Park Boat Ramp, or Nipissing’s South Shore. Great Manitou Island guarantees a fun getaway for bird-watching enthusiasts, lovers of local lore, or anyone looking for a relaxing afternoon at the beach. For more information, check out this insider’s guide to the Manitou Islands.
Porphyry Island is an exhilarating destination for seasoned boaters. Nestled along the North Shore of Lake Superior’s stunning turquoise waters, powerful waves wash over the vast black volcanic sands that line the island’s beaches. Porphyry’s Northwest Bay is an excellent place to land boats, as it is equipped with extensive docking space, mooring balls, and a boat house. Amenities also include camping spaces, fire pits, and picnic tables. Travellers who venture inland will find themselves surrounded by the lush boreal forestry for which Porphyry Island has become famous. The island is also home to Porphyry Island Lighthouse, a historical lighthouse with a fascinating story and a picturesque view of Lake Superior and Sleeping Giant. Charters to Porphyry Island are also available from nearby Silver Islet and Thunder Bay.
The 30,000 Islands—Georgian Bay
As the largest freshwater archipelago in the world, Georgian Bay’s Thirty Thousand Islands provide a haven for its visitors—whether they are looking for a serene, relaxing getaway, or are searching for an adventure. Although the glacier-washed rock and windswept pines that characterize the islands can often make visitors feel like they’re the only ones around, the Thirty Thousand Islands offer an impressive array of boater amenities. Docks and marinas are abundant and equipped to handle everything from routine refuelling to boat repairs. Among these marinas are Queen’s Cove, Glenn Burney, and Bay Port. Some marinas (like Hindson Marina and South Bay Cove) go a step further by offering bonuses like complimentary internet, private showers, dining options, playgrounds, and laundry facilities.
Docking is also available at 8 of the 26 islands that make up Georgian Bay Islands National Park. The park is a fantastic destination for visitors of the island, containing hiking trails, waterfront cabins, designated spots for camping, and an impressive array of wildlife.
Learn about how to get your boating license in Ontario and explore more top boating destinations in Ontario. Happy sailing!
Last updated: March 13, 2023